Category Archives: CONFERENCES

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali serves as the Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation. He is also the founder of Revitalization Strategies, a business focused on moving our most vulnerable communities from “surviving to thriving.”

MODERATOR

A renowned thought leader, international speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator, Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali serves as the Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation. He is also the founder of Revitalization Strategies, a business focused on moving our most vulnerable communities from “surviving to thriving.”

Before joining the National Wildlife Federation, Mustafa was the senior vice president for the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit and non-partisan organization that connects the hip-hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change. In his role, he led the strategic direction, expansion, and operation of the Hip Hop Caucus’ portfolio on climate, environmental justice, and community revitalization.

Prior to joining the Hip Hop Caucus, Mustafa worked for 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He began working on social justice issues at the age of 16 and joined the EPA as a student, becoming a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). He most recently served as senior advisor for environmental justice and community revitalization and assistant associate administrator, working to elevate environmental justice issues and strengthening environmental justice policies, programs, and initiatives. Mustafa worked for EPA administrators beginning with William Riley and ending with Scott Pruitt.

Mustafa uses a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities, and has worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to secure environmental, health, and economic justice. Throughout his career, Mustafa has conducted more than 1,000 presentations across the country, including speeches, training, and guest lectures at over 100 colleges and universities. He is a former instructor at West Virginia University and Stanford University.

Mustafa currently serves as a board member for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists, Rodenberry Foundation, TREE, and Climate Hawks Vote. He is frequently seen on television, including appearances on MSNBC, CNN, VICE, BET, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Democracy NOW! Mustafa is also a regular guest on WURD radio, Roland Martin Unfiltered, The Dean Obeidallah Show, and many others, and is the former co-host of the live radio show and podcast Think 100%: The Coolest Show on Climate Change with Grammy-nominated singer and actress Antonique Smith and civil rights icon Rev Lennox Yearwood. In 2020, he was named a Taking Nature Black National Environmental Champion.

Catherine Flowers

Catherine C. Flowers is an environmental activist bringing attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States. As founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (formerly the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise), Flowers builds partnerships across social scales—from close neighbors, to local elected officials and regional nonprofits, to federal lawmakers and global organizations—to identify and implement solutions to the intersecting challenges of water and sanitation infrastructure, public health, and economic development.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Catherine C. Flowers is an environmental activist bringing attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States. As founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (formerly the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise), Flowers builds partnerships across social scales—from close neighbors, to local elected officials and regional nonprofits, to federal lawmakers and global organizations—to identify and implement solutions to the intersecting challenges of water and sanitation infrastructure, public health, and economic development.

Flowers grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, an area plagued by poverty and failing infrastructure, which often results in raw sewage in yards and waterways and contaminated drinking water for residents. With a deep understanding of the historical, political, economic, and physical constraints that impede the implementation of better infrastructure in the region, she has engaged collaborators across a broad range of disciplinary expertise to document how lack of access to sufficient and sustained waste treatment and clean water can trap rural, predominantly African American populations in a vicious cycle of poverty and disease.

In 2011, Flowers worked with the UN Special Rapporteur to uncover the startling level of poverty in Lowndes County and the southern United States more broadly. With the Columbia University Law School Human Rights Clinic and Institute for the Study of Human Rights, she published “Flushed and Forgotten: Sanitation and Wastewater in Rural Communities in the United States” (2019), an examination of inequalities in access to sanitation and clean water within a framework of human rights. The report exposes the extent of water contamination and sanitation problems in poor, rural communities across the country, largely due to neglect by local leaders.

Flowers also spearheaded a collaboration with tropical disease researchers focused on intestinal parasitic infections spread by way of insufficient water treatment and waste sanitation. The researchers found that hookworm, long thought to have been eliminated from the South, is in fact prevalent among the residents of Lowndes County, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to undertake a similar, larger study across the rural American South. Flowers’s testimony to the U.S. Congress led to the introduction of legislation in 2019 to address neglected diseases of poverty in the United States.

Flowers is broadening the scope of environmental justice to include issues specific to disenfranchised rural communities and galvanizing policy and research to redress failing infrastructure that perpetuates socioeconomic disparities in rural areas across the United States.

Flowers is also the rural development manager for the Equal Justice Initiative, a member of the board of directors of the Climate Reality Project, and a senior fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Previously, Flowers has worked as a high school teacher in Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. She has published articles in Anglican Theological Review, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, among others, and her new book, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, which was published in November 2020.

Black Environmentalists to Share Joy and Pain

NEWS ALERT

Black Environmentalists to Share Joy and Pain that Open Spaces and Their Jobs Bring

Taking Nature Black Virtual to Draw Highest Attendance
Runs Tuesday, February 23 – Saturday, February 27, 2021

For Immediate Release February 11, 2021

For more information, contact Conference Chairwoman and ANS Director of Marketing and Communications Caroline Brewer, caroline.brewer@anshome.org or 240-899-9019, or Media Outreach Specialist lglisagoodnight@gmail.com or 301-523-5394

CHEVY CHASE, MDTykee James, board member of the DC Audubon Society, is especially conscious of how he dresses before he goes out birding in the wilderness. As a Black man entering wild (also known as “white”) spaces, he recognizes that each trip could be his last.  So before he indulges himself in the beauty of birdsong, he contacts friends to tell them what he’s wearing so that, if necessary, they can help authorities find his missing body. “Going outside is an opportunity for racism. I can’t get too comfortable,” James says.

When doctoral forestry student Jasmine K. Brown first invited her father to go on a hiking trip in the woods, he was elated. As they followed trail markers and took father-daughter selfies, he became overwhelmed by discomfort, fear, and a reluctance to keep going. He explained that the history of African American victimization in the woods was haunting him. Brown was able to help her father re-imagine forests as a healing space, which allowed them to finish the hike.

For Blacks environmentalists, as for most people, parks, woods, and other open spaces are places to play, explore, rejuvenate and refresh. But the great outdoors can also be unwelcoming and even traumatic for Blacks (as we saw in the Central Park attack last year), and so can being a rare person of color in their fields. The Taking Nature Black® Conference is a place where audiences Black, white, Asian, Latinx, and Native American flock to hear stories like James’ and Brown’s --raw, unvarnished tales of what it’s like to be Black in green spaces and hold jobs as environmentalists. Black birders, foresters, waterkeepers, urban gardeners, park staff, and others who go hard at green careers, tell their stories of joy, pain, tragedy and triumph as if they are in the comfort of a friend’s living room. Because, to them, they are.

And when they tell the stories only they can tell, they, literally, breathe easier. This is why participation in Taking Nature Black has soared since the first conference to 700 this year from 100 in 2016.  “I get to be my full Black self (here),”  teen climate activist Jerome Foster II, who was later featured in the Washington Postand New Yorker Magazine, proudly and emotionally boasted to the 2020 audience during his acceptance speech as the Youth Environmental Champion.

A 2018 participant wrote, “I’ve spent much of my 19-year career in environmental conservation trying not to highlight my Blackness... This conference has made me feel so proud to be a part of a community of Black environmentalists. Thank you…I loved this conference!” 

The virtual Conference runs Tuesday February 23 – Saturday, February 27, 2021. Interviews can be arranged with many of the 50 speakers, panelists, performers and artists. Click here for the Conference Agenda, Speaker and Panel Descriptions.

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Follow ANS at: www.Facebook.com/AudubonNaturalistSociety,  www.Twitter.com/ANStweet 
and @ANSNature on Instagram.

 About ANS: Throughout its history, ANS has championed nature for all by playing a pivotal role in conserving our region's iconic natural places from development including the C&O Canal, Dyke Marsh and, most recently, Ten Mile Creek. Past ANS member and board president, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is credited with launching the now global environmental movement. ANS's nature experts provide hundreds of opportunities each year for children and adults to enjoy, learn about, and protect the environment.

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin is an environmental advocate focused on people and planet. Her niche in environmental work is developing capacity building programs and creating multimedia campaigns to dismantle privilege and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to access healthy air, clean energy, and a toxic free economy at the local, regional and national level.

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin is an environmental advocate focused on people and planet. Her niche in environmental work is developing capacity building programs and creating multimedia campaigns to dismantle privilege and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to access healthy air, clean energy, and a toxic free economy at the local, regional and national level.

Toles O’Laughlin is a co-chair of the Green Leadership Trust, which builds a more powerful environmental movement by expanding the impact and leadership of people of color and indigenous people serving on US environmental non-profit boards. She is the chair and state representative on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee.

Most recently, Toles O’Laughlin was the former North American Director at 350.org, where she drove regional strategy in the United States and Canada.

David Greaves

David Greaves is a Wildlife Photographer, Biologist and Remedial Project Manager for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3, and the Founder of Nature Under Your Nose. He has a B.S. in Biology from Lincoln University. Greaves was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in the cities of Forestville and Clinton, Maryland where his love for the environment and wildlife was fostered. While growing up in Maryland, he enjoyed exploring the parks and woods near his home and searching for all types of insects, plants, and animals. David’s photography is inspired by the television shows he grew up watching such as PBS nature documentaries, Wild America, NOVA, and reading animal encyclopedias at an early age. His work encourages the viewer to look around and explore the diversity of nature that can be found in their backyards or while on traveling abroad. Greaves currently resides in Newark, DE. To learn more about his work follow him on Instagram @natureunderyournose or at https://dgreaves.picfair.com

David Greaves is a Wildlife Photographer, Biologist and Remedial Project Manager for the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3, and the Founder of Nature Under Your Nose. He has a B.S. in Biology from Lincoln University.

Greaves was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in the cities of Forestville and Clinton, Maryland where his love for the environment and wildlife was fostered.  While growing up in Maryland, he enjoyed exploring the parks and woods near his home and searching for all types of insects, plants, and animals.

David’s photography is inspired by the television shows he grew up watching such as PBS nature documentaries, Wild America, NOVA, and reading animal encyclopedias at an early age.  His work encourages the viewer to look around and explore the diversity of nature that can be found in their backyards or while on traveling abroad. 

Greaves currently resides in Newark, DE. To learn more about his work follow him on Instagram @natureunderyournose or at https://dgreaves.picfair.com

Congressman A. Donald McEachin

Congressman A. Donald McEachin, VA-04, (Keynote Speaker) was first elected to represent the 4th Congressional District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives on November 8, 2016. Congressman McEachin has been selected by his colleagues to serve as a Regional Whip, co-chair of the House Democratic Environmental Message Team, Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus, co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, and vice-chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). During his first term in Congress, Rep. McEachin co-founded the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force and continues to lead the task force as a co-chair.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

A. Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A longtime state legislator and former chair of the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, he was first elected to his current office in 2016. He sits on the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and serves as Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. During his first term in Congress, Rep. McEachin co-founded the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force and continues to lead the task force as a co-chair.

People, cities, and states across the country, including Virginia, have committed to a clean economy, and Rep. McEachin is leading the fight in Congress to ensure the federal government does the same. To put the U.S. on the path to a 100 percent clean energy economy, last Congress, Rep. McEachin introduced his 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, which sets a nationwide goal of achieving a 100 percent clean economy by 2050. Supported by over 160 of his colleagues last Congress, the Congressman’s 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 would protect public health and our environment; create high-quality clean jobs and strengthen our economy; mitigate the worst impacts of climate change for all communities and all generations; and restore the U.S. as a global climate leader.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. McEachin has also led the fight to protect all people’s fundamental right to clean air, pure water and an environment free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution. Recognizing that the people most affected by environmental injustice have not had a meaningful voice in the decision-making processes impacting their well-being, McEachin began a multi-year collaborative effort with hundreds of impacted communities to draft his landmark Environmental Justice for All Act, legislation which comprehensively addresses the long-standing environmental inequities that harm low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and indigenous communities across the country.

Rep. McEachin looks forward to carrying forward his work towards a sustainable future for all and the ongoing fight for bold, inclusive environmental justice solutions in the 117th Congress.

Rep. McEachin graduated from American University with a degree in Political Science and from the University of Virginia School of Law. In May of 2008, he received his Master of Divinity from The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Rep. McEachin and his lovely wife Colette, the Richmond City Commonwealth’s Attorney, are the parents of three adult children.

Jan-Michael Archer

Jan-Michael Archer is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Maryland's School of Public Health and a UMD Global STEWARD Fellow. As a doctoral student in the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) Laboratory, Archer employs community-engaged and citizen-science practices to develop relationships and capacities within communities. His primary focuses are on reducing the air pollution that’s overburdening in Black communities and increasing green space equity. But in 2016, he felt he needed a break from academia, so he dove into the world of outdoor education -- working with conservation organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay region (including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Aquarium, Living Classrooms Foundation, and others). Reflecting on the lack of opportunities for Black youth, Archer was compelled to investigate barriers to equity in the environmental field. Five years later, this still drives his research.

Jan-Michael Archer is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Maryland's School of Public Health and a UMD Global STEWARD Fellow. As a doctoral student in the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) Laboratory, Archer employs community-engaged and citizen-science practices to develop relationships and capacities within communities. His primary focuses are on reducing the air pollution that’s overburdening in Black communities and increasing green space equity. But in 2016, he felt he needed a break from academia, so he dove into the world of outdoor education -- working with conservation organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay region (including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Aquarium, Living Classrooms Foundation, and others).

Reflecting on the lack of opportunities for Black youth, Archer was compelled to investigate barriers to equity in the environmental field. Five years later, this still drives his research.

Dr Mchezaji Che Axum

Dr. Mchezaji “Che” Axum  is the Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education in the College of Agriculture Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Axum leads a team of researchers at the Muirkirk Research Farm in Beltsville, MD and oversees UDC’s Master Gardening, Specialty and Ethnic Crops and Urban Forestry programs.  He is a graduate of the College of Agronomy, now the College of Natural Resource Management at the University of Maryland and a Certified State of Maryland Nutrient Management Consultant.  Axum serves on the board of the Harry Hughes Center for Agroecology and is a member of the American Agronomy Society/ ASA, the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

Dr. Mchezaji “Che” Axum  is the Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education in the College of Agriculture Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Axum leads a team of researchers at the Muirkirk Research Farm in Beltsville, MD and oversees UDC’s Master Gardening, Specialty and Ethnic Crops and Urban Forestry programs.

He is a graduate of the College of Agronomy, now the College of Natural Resource Management at the University of Maryland and a Certified State of Maryland Nutrient Management Consultant.  Axum serves on the board of the Harry Hughes Center for Agroecology and is a member of the American Agronomy Society/ ASA, the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

Donald Belle

Donald Belle is an 18-year-veteran educator in the Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) system. Currently, Belle is an Environmental Outreach Educator with the William Schmidt Outdoor and Environmental Education Center. He has worked in the past as the science teacher coordinator and academy of environmental studies coordinator at Gwynn Park High School. In 2012, Belle was awarded Outstanding Educator by Prince George’s County Public Schools. Belle has recently worked on several environmental literacy initiatives including: Mussel Power Citizen Science Program, the Prince George’s County Envirothon, and Climate Action Initiatives. For the past four years he has organized and grown the Student Environmental Alliance Summit (SEAS). SEAS supports high school students that have expressed an interest in working or learning about careers in environmental science, natural resource management, or agriculture. In 2020, Mr. Belle was appointed to serve on the Prince George’s County Climate Action Commission.

Donald Belle is an 18-year-veteran educator in the Prince George’s County Public School (PGCPS) system.

Currently, Belle is an Environmental Outreach Educator with the William Schmidt Outdoor and Environmental Education Center. He has worked in the past as the science teacher coordinator and academy of environmental studies coordinator at Gwynn Park High School. In 2012, Belle was awarded Outstanding Educator by Prince George’s County Public Schools. Belle has recently worked on several environmental literacy initiatives including: Mussel Power Citizen Science Program, the Prince George’s County Envirothon, and Climate Action Initiatives.

For the past four years he has organized and grown the Student Environmental Alliance Summit (SEAS). SEAS supports high school students that have expressed an interest in working or learning about careers in environmental science, natural resource management, or agriculture. In 2020, Mr. Belle was appointed to serve on the Prince George’s County Climate Action Commission.

Lois Yena Chang

Lois Yena Chang is an environmental geographer educated and trained in remote sensing science research. Upon graduating from Emory University with a BS MPH, Chang began her professional journey as an ORISE Fellow at EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. It was there that she documented success stories of EJSCREEN – EPA’s mapping interface that allows communities to generate data-driven visuals and reports on toxic waste facilities and pollutants in their neighborhoods. Chang also supported a non-profit organization based in DC where she successfully obtained comprehensive air emissions inventories not yet available to the public for seven states in the U.S. Chang currently works as an epidemiologist in Atlanta, GA responding to COVID-19 needs.

Lois Yena Chang is an environmental geographer educated and trained in remote sensing science research. Upon graduating from Emory University with a BS MPH, Chang began her professional journey as an ORISE Fellow at EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. It was there that she documented success stories of EJSCREEN – EPA’s mapping interface that allows communities to generate data-driven visuals and reports on toxic waste facilities and pollutants in their neighborhoods.

Chang also supported a non-profit organization based in DC where she successfully obtained comprehensive air emissions inventories not yet available to the public for seven states in the U.S. Chang currently works as an epidemiologist in Atlanta, GA responding to COVID-19 needs.