Michelle Lopes Barakat

Grantmaking and Program Manager for the Liberated Paths program

Michelle (she/her) is the Grantmaker and Program Manager for the Liberated Paths program in Lenapehoking, also known as the Delaware River Watershed. She is a first generation American and first generation college graduate with a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science from Susquehanna University and an M.S. in Hydrogeology from the University of Pennsylvania. Living on the Lenni Lenape land that is Philadelphia, Michelle is committed to environmental justice, especially in the urban setting. 

At the nexus of science, policy, and social justice, she strives to bridge the gap between Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color and the outdoors. Whether it is clean water, air, soil, or food, she believes it is a human right to have access to natural resources without the fear of exposure to harmful substances. Michelle has done water quality and equity work in the Dominican Republic and has spent time studying the implications of climate change in Australia, specifically on Aboriginal communities. 

Her love for the outdoors started young, rooted in her grandparents’ relationship with their gardens and her family’s overall love for post-meal walks. Of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent, Michelle has a passion for learning about different cultures and a deep love for food. In her free time, she enjoys searching the city for sustainable forms of produce, calming bodies of water, and minority-owned bookshops. Her Sunday morning routine consists of volunteering at a local community mutual aid fridge, hiking Wissahickon Valley Park, and tending to her plant babies.