Debbie Levin is considered one of the most influential people in the environmental movement and entertainment industry. Since taking over the organization in 2000, Levin has been singular in harnessing the power of the media and entertainment communities to pioneer a high impact model of social activism, utilizing storytelling and message development to drive awareness into action and solutions. Through over 19 years as the CEO of EMA—which was founded to influence the public’s environmental awareness through television, film and music—Levin has expanded the organization to serve as a leading tool to connect industries, brands, influencers and entrepreneurs to collaborate, advocate and drive action empowering not only individuals, but the corporate world as well. The organization has grown into a diverse subsection of entertainment industry tastemakers, entrepreneurs in finance and technology and green icons dedicated to the mission of promoting environmental progress and innovations through celebrity role modeling, campaign work, year-round programs and our three large scale annual events, The EMA Impact Summit, The EMA Awards and The EMA Honors Benefit Gala.
Levin has the pulse on the millennial generation, understanding their thirst for transparency, willingness to be educated as consumers and the strong desire to maintain the earth’s natural resources and embrace new technology, ideas and the imminent green economy.
The consummate connector within the global celebrity world as well as the corporate and sustainability communities, Levin is authentically the iconic persona and voice clearly embracing and educating the sustainable lifestyle. Through the EMA Board of Directors, Levin has built a powerful coalition of influencers and allies including EMA Board Members, Jaden Smith, Van Jones, Shailene Woodley, Ed Begley Jr., Lance Bass, Malin Akerman, Philippe Cousteau, Nicole Richie and Jeff Skoll as well as her deep relationships with all the studios and agencies. Her deeply rooted relationships across entertainment and media have allowed the organization to amplify its initiatives and cement them in both popular culture and in the public consciousness.
Under Levin’s leadership, EMA has been responsible for some of the green movement’s most public and pivotal milestones, including working with Toyota and Lexus marking their 18th year anniversary in 2018. Levin helped launch and popularize the now ubiquitous Prius throughout the entertainment community resulting in a global presence. Toyota credited EMA with a 20% increase in sales and Fortune Magazine calling EMA a “secret weapon” for Toyota. She invented and implemented the “green carpet” and environmentally-conscious practices as staples of major events and across productions through all major studios. Levin has grown the organization’s flagship gala, the EMA Awards, which recognizes environmental efforts across entertainment, to be one of the year’s most acclaimed and anticipated events.
Levin produces EMA IMPACT, AWARDS AND HONORS annually. These are broadcast level productions that have aired on networks like E!, Extra, NatGeo and Fusion and regularly receives over four billion media impressions. In addition, with deft use of social media, key speakers trend on platforms with over 10 million views being the norm from these events and throughout the year with their viral content. The social reach of Levin’s Board Members is over 250 million. Over the past years, the EMA Awards has hosted entertainers and activists such as Jane Fonda, Justin Timberlake, Elon Musk, Van Jones, Jaden Smith, Shailene Woodley, Don Henley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mikhail Gorbachev, Robert Redford and Sir Richard Branson. On behalf of the organization, Levin has forged partnerships with the likes of Paul Mitchell Systems & Patron, Montage Hotels and Resorts, LAcarGUY, Kellogg Garden Products, Earth Friendly Products, Participant Media, H&M, Star Waggons and of course, Toyota & Lexus. In 2005, she created the EMA Corporate Advisory Board in order to create a synergistic relationship for her many corporate supporters.
In addition to fostering an infrastructure to integrate green messages by leveraging the power and visibility of entertainment media and celebrity, Levin has also shaped EMA into a thought leader in promoting sustainable lifestyle choices. In 2003 Levin created the first recognition criteria for television and film production, the EMA Green Seal for Production. Not only has the EMA Green Seal become the standard in North American production in all studios, but the EMA Green Seal has also become the standard globally for sustainable production practices.
Most recently, EMA has expanded its focus beyond the industry and now provides establishments, schools and families with tools to participate in the green movement and adopt green practices. The organization’s many initiatives include #GreenMySchool, an ongoing celebrity school garden program, which has already established nearly 20 edible school gardens nationally. Further, the EMA Speaker Series brings together some of the most influential minds to discuss and explain current issues facing our planet, leading the charge for labeling GMOs, safety for the food and cleaning product industries, sustainable fashion, protecting our natural lands, working towards greener cities, e-waste and as the leading role model for a healthy and safe home.
The EMA IMPACT Summit (founded in 2017) is an annual two-day summit including keynote speeches, panel discussions, and EMA’s Future Innovator of the Year Competition, a “shark-tank” like competition that awards a winning innovation a $50K grant. IMPACT features speakers from the corporate, science, political, entrepreneur and Hollywood worlds, such as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Van Jones, Jaden Smith, Julie Packard and John Paul DeJoria.
EMA serves as a valuable link between the world of media and the corporate and environmental communities, working tirelessly to bring the planet's most pressing issues to the forefront of pop culture and make true change by inspiring the next generation of game changers and spokespeople leading their generations to a more sustainable economy.
Levin obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and is an active grandmother to her four grandchildren. She serves on the Boards of EcoAmerica, Green Seal and US Green Communities and is a member of the Paley Center Media Council. She is the inaugural recipient of the 2014 UN First Ladies Fashion 4 Development Eco Award and in 2018 received the “Recyclápolis International Environmental Award” in Chile presented by the Chilean Minister of the Environment.
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Why is it so important to model an eco-conscious lifestyle? Actors, musicians and athletes have a huge opportunity to take advantage of their lives in the media fish bowl. They can send out a powerful message to their fans by carrying a reusable bag or driving a hybrid car or talking about what they do in their daily lives to protect the planet.