This week in wins: Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg named Time's Person of the Year


Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg graces the cover of Time magazine and voting rights take the spotlight in Kentucky.

Kentucky's new governor expanded voting rights to more than 100,000 previously disenfranchised residents, U.S. Women's Soccer star Megan Rapinoe was honored as Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year, and Nevada is working to ensure girls are encouraged to join the cybersecurity field.

Read on to catch up on this week's wins.

Greta Thunberg named Time's Person of the Year

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was named Time's Person of the Year on Wednesday. The teenager was honored for her relentless efforts to cajole global leaders into taking action on climate issues.      

Thunberg first captured the world's attention by sitting outside the Swedish parliament once a week to call for action on climate issues. About a year later, she inspired 4 million people around the globe to participate in a climate strike. During her time on the global stage, Thunberg has "addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, [and] sparred with the President of the United States," TIME wrote. 

"I want you to panic," Thunberg, who has Asperger's syndrome, told leaders at the World Economic Forum in January, according to Time. "I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act." 

Governors team up to fight for voting rights

Democratic governors are determined to ensure every American has a chance to vote, and that every vote counts. That was the message of a Monday announcement launching "Every State, Every Vote," a joint initiative between the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and Fair Fight, a voter protection organization launched by Stacey Abrams.  

"Heading into 2020, this partnership with Fair Fight is critical to ensure that Democratic governors and Democratic candidates can have the tools they need so every American citizen can exercise their right to vote," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, chair of the DGA, said in a statement. 

"Our right to vote is our most fundamental right and I am proud to stand with the Democratic Governors Association to protect it," Abrams said about the launch. 

The "Every State, Every Vote" website gives examples of ways Democratic governors have used their power to make it easier for residents to both register and cast ballots.

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year

After leading the U.S. Women's National Team to its fourth World Cup title and breaking the internet with her arms-oustretched celebratory pose, Megan Rapinoe has now been named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated

Rapinoe, whom Deadspin described as a "purple-haired lesbian goddess" during the World Cup, won the tournament's Golden Boot award for most goals scored, the Golden Ball award for being MVP of the tournament, and was later named FIFA's Woman World Player of the Year.

In addition to standing by her teammates on the field, Rapinoe is also a leading voice as the team pursues a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging pay discrimination. And long before the World Cup, Rapinoe was one of the first non-football athletes to join Colin Kaepernick's protest against police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem before games.

Kentucky governor restores voting rights to more than 100,000 people

Newly sworn-in Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), elected in November, ordered voting rights be restored to more than 100,000 residents with nonviolent felony convictions on Thursday.   

"Looking out at this crowd there are so many people who have worked so hard for today," Beshear said on during a ceremony to mark the change. "I hope today is just the start of righting a lot of injustices," he added.

The announcement by Beshear fulfills one of his campaign promises.

Beshear issued the order just two days after being sworn in. 

Nevada governor promotes girls in STEM

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has announced a new partnership to encourage girls to go into the field of cybersecurity, a local NBC affiliate reported Thursday.  

Nevada will partner with the SANS Institute to launch Girls Go Cyberstart (GGC), to give young women a chance to learn cybersecurity skills. 

"It's critical that young women across Nevada have access to the education and experiences that will prepare them for exciting careers in STEM fields," Sisolak told NBC. "Initiatives like Girls Go Cyberstart inspire our students to discover a passion for innovation and find their pathway to a rewarding career."

According to the governor's office, jobs requiring cybersecurity skills are projected to grow 39% in the state through 2026, and pay an average of $83,000 a year.

Congressional leaders will track diversity in hearings

The chairs of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus announced a new initiative to track diversity at congressional hearings, Roll Call reported Thursday. 

"With an increasingly diverse population, a truly representative government must reflect the country’s changing demographics to ensure fairness and legitimacy," the chairs wrote in a letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on all House committees. "This is especially critical for the U.S. House of Representatives, a chamber that was specifically designed to reflect the most direct will of the American people."

The group will use surveys provided to committee chairs to collect information on witnesses invited to testify, not counting administration witnesses. The new initiative gained the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in House leadership positions.

Congress approves paid leave for federal workers

Congressional leaders have reportedly agreed to a spending package that will include up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian federal employees to care for newborn or adopted children. If the provision remains in the legislation and becomes law, it will impact 2.1 million federal workers. 

Members of the military already have paid parental leave; the new provision would guarantee the same benefit to the civilian workforce. 

The parental leave provision would be the first major expansion of protected leave since 1993, when the Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law.

Check back next week for more good news.