Claudia Kelly Li / 李姸蕙 is an award-winning storyteller and social entrepreneur.
Her unique and effective approach in cross-cultural communications has earned her the prestigious Global Ashoka Fellowship. Only handed out to a handful of people in Canada each year, Ashoka selected Claudia for her bold vision to engage Chinese-Canadian youth on environmental and social change issues through the vehicle of culture and heritage.
Claudia’s experience lays in leveraging the reach of media and new media tools for advocacy and community building. Her work and writing has appeared across the globe in hundreds of features of publications including the South China Morning Post, the Globe & Mail, Fairchild TV, and CBC Radio.
Claudia has spoken to thousands of youth and organizers on leadership and entrepreneurship at institutions such as New York University and to the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Association.
Read more about Claudia's background
After completing university, Claudia started an initiative to promote awareness about shark conservation. Recognizing the xenophobia that commonly tainted the shark finning campaigns at that time, she created a consumer-driven engagement model that transformed individuals to become champions of conservation for their communities. This wedding contest model was the beginnings of the organization she co-founded called Shark Truth. The initiative stopped 80,000 bowls of shark fin from consumption and the model was adopted by partners in the shark fin consumption capital of Hong Kong. Her work in this arena fundamentally shifted the conversation of shark conservation on a nation-wide scale in both English and Chinese media in Canada.
As she saw the community grow, Claudia created the Hua Ren Environmental Network in 2011 as a platform to enable community leaders and allies to share resources and build connection.
Through this, she saw the opportunity to expand her organization’s focus to food sovereignty and civic engagement as a way to deepen lifestyle changes for the youth she was working with. This grew Shark Truth into the organization hua foundation. The Choi Project – a program of hua foundation – created educational tools and workshops around food sovereignty customized for youth, and built relationships with small businesses in Chinatown to promote local food.
In 2015, Claudia collaborated with members of the Hua Ren Environmental Network to develop the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown whose aim is to activate public spaces in the historic neighbourhood through intergenerational and intercultural connection.
Claudia has been recognized for her work by many. She was named Ms. Chatelaine in 2016, listed as an Influential Millennial by Huffington Post Canada, and as a Top 30 Under 30 by BC Business Magazine.
Claudia was born and raised in Canada by her mom’s family of 20 who hailed from the fishing village of Lei Yue Mun in Hong Kong. She is a classically trained pianist and enjoys rock climbing, jamming with friends, and cooking in the kitchen.