Asma Mahdi

Guest writer & communications manager for Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge

Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge


Asma Mahdi is the communications and publications relations manager for the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge — a UCLA research initiative that aims to transition Los Angeles County through cutting-edge research, technologies, policies, and strategies to 100 percent renewable energy and 100 percent locally sourced water, while enhancing ecosystem and human health, by 2050. 

An L.A. native, she has witnessed Los Angeles undergo rapid change — both in the built and natural environment — impacting the communities she grew up in. Her love for Los Angeles and the many diverse communities that it supports led her back to UCLA after spending nearly five years in Washington, D.C. Through the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge and UCLA she sees the opportunities for the university to engage in building a more equitable and sustainable future for Angelenos.

Prior to joining UCLA, Asma worked for the NOAA Marine Debris Program focusing on communications and outreach efforts. She coordinated exhibits on the impacts of plastics and disaster debris (which result from natural disasters such as the 2011 Japan tsunami and Hurricane Sandy) with the Anchorage Museum, the National Building Museum, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. During her time at NOAA, Asma won a Regional Emmy Award for her work in co-writing and narrating “Trash Talk,” an educational documentary that addresses the impacts of marine debris on our coastal communities, economy and on human health.

Asma received her bachelor’s in geography from UCLA and earned her master’s in coastal resources at the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara. Currently, she is also working with fellow alumni and the Bren School to launch an alumni and students of color association to support diverse voices, perspectives, and thought leadership both at UCSB and within the environmental movement.

In her spare time, you can find Asma with churros in one hand her hiking shoes in the other.