Category Archives: TNB2018

Cherod Hicks


Areas of Expertise:
Clean Water
Community Engagement
Environmental Engineering
Stormwater Management


Cherod Hicks

Cherod Hicks is an Environmental Engineer for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Office of Engineering and Construction.  He is a project manager in the Environmental Engineering Project Delivery Section.  He has experience speaking to the importance of environmental engineering practices, how treating stormwater runoff creates potable water, the importance of environmental engineering and the impact engineering departments have on the communities they serve.  Cherod works closely with all members of City Council to educate and inform them of environmental projects his department has planned in their districts. He supports community outreach and educating residents when talking about clean water, stormwater, wastewater, flood mitigation, and other environmental impact issues.

Cherod received his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with honors from Morgan State University this past December. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and was president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Student Section. He is pursuing a Ph. D. in geotechnical engineering.

Dawone Robinson

Dawone Robinson


Areas of Expertise:
Environmental Justice
Environmental Policy

Dawone Robinson

Dawone Robinson works for the Natural Resources Defense Council, focusing on promoting increased access to energy efficiency and renewable energy resources for multifamily and low-income households. As part of the Energy Efficiency for All project, Dawone helps organize state coalitions and provides educational support for organizations and individuals working on energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

 He currently serves as a member of the Virginia Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, an appointment he received from former Governor Terry McAuliffe. In his previous role, Dawone served as Virginia policy director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, an organization focusing on climate change impacts and clean energy solutions in Virginia. Dawone received his bachelor's degree from Iowa State University and a J.D. from Drake University Law School.

Joseph J. James

Joseph J. James


Areas of Expertise:
Governmental Relations
Social Entrepreneurship
Technology-led Development

Joseph J. James


Joseph J. James is President of Agri-Tech Producers, LLC (ATP), an African-American-owned small business, involved in developing and holding innovative processes and technologies, with global applications, involving biomass, bio-remediation, bio-energy and bio-products.

Mr. James has devised a patent-pending, Combined Remediation Biomass and Bio-Product Production (CRBBP) Process, which cost-effectively remediates contaminated soils and water, using the enhanced phytoremediation capabilities of the prodigious root systems of certain bio-crops; then converts the plants and their resulting, lower-cost biomass into various, cost-advantaged bio-products and biofuels.

ATP has also licensed and is commercializing innovative and patented torrefaction (carbonization) technology, developed by NC State University, which converts plant and woody biomass into a variety of bio-products, including fillers or extenders, which are used to make stronger, lighter and water-resistant plastics; biochars, to increase soil productivity; a cleaner and safer, plant-based alternative to the wood-based charcoal cooking fuel, used in 3rd World countries; and a bio-coal, which can be co-fired in coal-fired power plants, with minimal equipment upgrades, to proportionately reduce the GHG and chemical pollution emissions of coal.

Mr. James is demonstrating these innovations through strategically-focused operating affiliates, like ATP-MD, LLC, which is collaborating with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, an HBCU, using the CRBBP Process to extract excess phosphorus from Chesapeake Bay watershed farm soils, while making bio-products.

Mr. James has had an impressive, 33-year career as an economic development professional, where he has been often heavily involved in technology-led development. He just completed a 6-year term as a Secretarial appointee on the federal Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee and is a member of the Clean Energy Business Network.

Mr. James received a BS, in Science, from Union College and has studied Law and Business Administration at New York University. He has received numerous awards, including being named a winner of the Purpose Prize, in 2008, for his work to include poor, rural communities of color in the “Green Economy”. He also serves on the Board of Green Tech Academy, a Sacramento, California-based non-profit, which trains and mentors minority youth to be green economy workers.


Joseph received a BS, in Science, from Union College and has studied law and business administration at New York University.

Beattra Wilson


Areas of Expertise:
Community Engagement
Equity and Outreach
Federal Programs
Urban and Community Forestry
Youth Development

Beattra WIlson

Beattra Wilson is a National Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager at the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, DC. She provides program guidance, budget coordination, grants management and strategic planning leadership for national, regional and state urban and community forestry programs.

As a diversity strategist, Beattra co-chairs the Executive Committee of the USDA 1890 Task Force-- convening USDA Senior Officials and 1890 Land Grant HBCU Presidents and Agriculture Deans to advance the partnership and vision for historically black land grant institutions and the communities they serve. Beattra served three years on the Forest Service Environmental Justice Board, promoting outreach and advocacy in underserved communities and designed inclusive initiatives for State and Private Forestry programs. These initiatives targeted improved access and awareness of federal programs to minority communities and stakeholders, and generated a pipeline of new minority and millennial students pursuing forestry and natural resources careers.

Beattra has built a solid career administering conservation cooperative assistance programs at regional and national offices. In 2016, Beattra served as Deputy Associate Director of Forests and Public Lands at the White House Council on Environmental Quality where she was responsible for forest management policy, wildfire suppression budgets, and federal agricultural an environmental workforce diversity.

Beattra holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Forestry from Southern University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Kennesaw State University.

TNB Topics 2018

2018 Taking Nature Black Agenda

On the Frontlines of Environmental Justice

It is an unfortunate and tragic fact that the individuals and families who live and work in the nation's most polluted environments are most commonly people of color, people with little or no political influence, and people with limited financial resources. It's no accident. These are the communities most often targeted for industrial and commercial development that poses environmental hazards.

Attendees learned ways to take immediate action to fight for environmental justice.


Mustafa Santiago Ali
Senior Vice President
Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization
Hip Hop Council

Sacoby Wilson, PhD
Associate Professor
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
University of Maryland-College Park

What Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Should Look Like

Some people mistakenly believe that "diversity" and "inclusion" are one and the same. Diversity and inclusion are actually two very different concepts, but their impacts in the workplace and the larger society are more profound when the two are implemented together. In fact, diversity is essentially meaningless without inclusion.

During this panel presentation, attendees heard from experts at the forefront of a dynamic and growing movement to ensure that diverse stakeholders play an active and inclusive role in the environmental movement.


Kevin T. Bryan
Senior Policy Director
Keystone Policy Center

Karen Driscoll
Senior Associate
The Raben Group

Randy K. Rowel
Environmental Consultant
RR & Associates

Nature in Your Neighborhood & Peer-to-Peer Conversations

Many people think of "nature" as some distant place, largely undisturbed by human activity. In reality, nature is all around us, including in big cities. In fact, many outstanding and accomplished environmental professionals developed their love of and respect for nature through their early outdoor adventures in their own urban neighborhoods. Now, many of these same professionals are reaching out to urban communities to encourage youth and others to explore environmental careers by exposing them to new and exciting possibilities.

In this session, participants heard directly from leading professionals who turned their neighborhood experiences into successful and fulfilling green careers. Panelists shared creative ideas about how to engage communities to enjoy outdoor experiences right in their own neighborhoods.


Curtis Bennett
Director of Conservation and Community Engagement
National Aquarium

Ronda Chapman
Executive Director
Groundwork DC

Tonya Johnson
Park Naturalist
Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission

Cherod Hicks
Environmental Engineer
Baltimore City, Department of Public Works

Roots and Resistance: Preserving the Rich Eco-Cultural Legacies of Black Communities

Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq. and Fred TutmanAfrican American communities have a rich legacy of protecting their ecosystems from corporate pollution as well as challenging land monopolization through the creation of heir property, the most widespread form of property ownership within the African American community.  Through the lens of two eco-activists, participants enjoyed an informative discussion that combined history along with present-day challenges.  The goal is to elevate both grassroots and legal strategies to advance an alternative future rooted in racial equity, economic democracy, and planet sustainability.


Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Black Belt Justice Center

Fred Tutman
Patuxent Riverkeeper

Taking Control of Your Career in the Green Industry

"Green Jobs" help the environment as well as the local, regional and national economy. Experts on jobs, diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, HR, and the environmental movement shared details about the kinds of career opportunities exist today and talked about what opportunities might exist into the future. 

Attendees also learned great tips on effective networking and job search techniques during this engaging, interactive discussion.


Teri Brezner
Senior Fellow, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Environmental Leadership Program

Chanceé Lundy
Co-owner and Principal

Kristina Smith
Senior Consultant
Concordia Consulting

Beattra Wilson
National Program Manager,
Urban and Community Forestry
U.S. Forest Service

What You Need to Know to Engage Elected Officials

Laws and policies can have long-ranging and long-lasting impacts on both the physical and economic health of communities. That's why it's critical that individuals and communities understand the best ways to voice their concerns to government agencies and officials.

Experienced veterans on community engagement and environmental policy shared effective methods and best practices for interacting with government agencies and elected officials on the local, state and national levels in order to achieve positive change.


Joseph J. James
Founder and President
Agri-Tech Producers, LLC

Vince Leggett
President and CEO
The Leggett Group USA

William J. Roberts, Esq.
Legislative Director
Office of U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD)

Dawone Robinson
Advocate, Urban Solutions Program
Natural Resources Defense Council

Joanne Throwe
Deputy Secretary
Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Storytelling Performance

To close the day, storyteller and performance artist Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama’Echefu shared a piece specially created for the 2018 Taking Nature Black Conference titled  "A Hip Hop Frog Story of Dreams and Other Delicate Things in Our Irreplaceable World." 


Dr. Karen Wilson Ama’ Echefu
Cultural Historian, Singer and Storyteller

Mustafa Santiago Ali


Areas of Expertise:
Community Engagement
Environmental Health (and Health Disparities)
Environmental Justice
Environmental Science
Leadership Development
Social Justice


Mustafa Santiago Ali

A renowned national speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator, Mustafa Santiago Ali is the Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization 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.  As HHC Senior Vice President, he leads 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 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He joined the EPA as a student and became 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 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.  

Throughout his career, Mustafa has conducted more than 1,000 presentations across the country, including speeches, guest lectures, and training. He has also worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to secure environmental, health and economic justice. Mustafa specializes in environmental, health, and economic justice issues using a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities and improving the lives of individuals and families. 

Ronda Chapman


Areas of Expertise:
Community Engagement
Diversity and Inclusion
Environmental Health
Governmental Relations

Ronda Chapman

As Executive Director for Groundwork DC (GWDC)Ronda Chapman works to advance community well-being including issues such as restorative justice, nutrition, and mindfulness. Her first environmental job out of high school was as a canvasser for Greenpeace USA and throughout the 30 years that followed, Ronda found herself living in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah as an active outdoor recreation enthusiast, earning an environmental history degree from Portland State University, managing sustainability programs for various local government institutions, and training green organizations on diversifying the environmental movement.  As a Community Engagement and Equity Specialist for DC Department of Energy and Environment, Ronda provided advice and leadership issues including racial equity and empowerment.

Ronda is a DC native, so the opportunity to lead operations at Groundwork DC, provided her with the chance to bring her experience and expertise to the place she calls home.

Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama’Echefu


Areas of Expertise:
Culture and History

Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama’Echefu

American scholar Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama’Echefu is a Harlem native who engages in public speaking. Hmmm. Public speaking? More like public humming, singing, skipping, dancing, tripping, questioning, challenging, inspiring, inciting, chuckling, telling, quelling, woofing, hoofing, winkling, twinkling, traveling,  messin' 'round, tweeting, elucidating, howling, equivocating, trilling, thrilling, pontificating, poetry-making, risk-taking, reporting, cavorting, and telling the truth as  she understands it  to be. 

Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama’Echefu also sings music across the historical spectrum of the African Diaspora in the United States including spirituals, calls, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues.  She curated, wrote and premiered, “A Tribute to Blueswomen:  Beauty and the Blues” with her group, Blue Wave – New York.  In collaboration with her musical director Stephen Vaughan, she developed a new genre called Story Cabaret for Blue Wave West, presenting original, traditional and contemporary stories all wrapped up in jazz, blues and singable tunes. Dr. Wilson-Ama’ Echefu has traveled and performed with Pete Seeger and her performance of Paul Laurence Dunbar's "The Party" was broadcast on PBS as part of their "Favorite Poem Project."

Dr. Wilson-Ama’Echefu was a featured presenter at the 2010 Blues and Spirit Symposium alongside legendary Hip Hop Artist Chuck D, and other notable music and history giants, and has spoken and presented on the intellectual and cultural life in the African American Slave Quarter Community on college campuses across the United States.  Her research interests include African cultural and religious history, eighteenth and nineteenth-century enslavement in the United States, leadership and strategy in slave quarter communities, and the philosophies and theologies of Africans and their descendants in the Western Hemisphere as identified through their song, story and dance. Her scholarship identifies African intellectual and cultural presence in North America as providing evidence for continuities, discontinuities and transformations of African Diasporic culture in the United States and considers the West African Diasporic Blues Complex as a marker for African cultural presence in the Western Hemisphere.  She also writes on histori-cultural presence of African American women, which includes their beautiful blues.

Dr. Sacoby Wilson

Sacoby Wilson, Associate Professor, and Director, Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, in the School of Public Health.





Areas of Expertise:
Community Engagement
Environmental Health (and Health Disparities)
Environmental Justice
Environmental Science
Leadership Development

Sacoby Wilson, PhD

Sacoby Wilson, PhD is an Associate Professor with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Maryland-College Park. Dr. Wilson has more than 15 years of experience as an environmental health scientist in the areas of exposure science, environmental justice, environmental health disparities, community-based participatory research, water quality analysis, air pollution studies, built environment, industrial animal production, climate change, community resiliency, and sustainability. He works primarily in partnership with community-based organizations to study and address environmental justice and health issues and translate research to action.

Dr. Wilson is Director of the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health (CEEJH) Initiative. CEEJH is focused on providing technical assistance to communities fighting against environmental injustice and environmental health disparities in the DMV region and across the nation. Through CEEJH, Dr. Wilson is engaging communities in the Washington, DC region on environmental health issues including exposure and health risks for individuals who fish and recreate on the Anacostia River; use of best management practices to reduce stormwater inputs in the Chesapeake Bay; built environment, environmental injustice, and vectors in West Baltimore; cumulative impacts of environmental hazards on air quality in Brandywine, MD; goods movement, industrial pollution, and environmental injustice in South Baltimore, MD; environmental justice and health issues in Buzzard Point area of Washington, DC; industrial chicken farming on Maryland's Eastern Shore; health impact of assessment in the Sheriff Road community; and other topics. In addition, he is working with schools in the region on pipeline development efforts in the STEM+H disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Health).

He has worked on environmental justice issues including environmental racism with community-based organizations through long-term community-university environmental health and justice partnerships in South Carolina and North Carolina including the Low Country Alliance for Model Communities (LAMC), in North Charleston, South Carolina; the West End Revitalization Association (WERA) in Mebane, NC; and the Graniteville Community Coalition (GCC) in Graniteville, SC. He has provided technical assistance to REACH in Duplin County, NC; RENA in Orange County, NC; and the NC Environmental Justice Network.

Dr. Wilson has been very active professionally as an environmental justice advocate. He is Founder of 17 for Peace and Justice and a Co-Founder of the DC/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) Environmental Justice Coalition. He is a member of the USEPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a past Chair of the APHA Environment Section, on the Board of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, a former member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the CDC NCEH/ATSDR, and former Chair of the Alpha Goes Green Initiative, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is also a senior fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program.

Dr. Wilson has received many awards for his contributions and achievements as an environmental justice researcher and advocate. He received the APHA Environment Section Damu Smith Environmental Justice Award in 2015. From the University of Maryland School of Public Health, he received the George F. Kramer Practitioner of the Year Award (2014-2015) and the Muriel R. Sloan Communitarian Award (2012-2013). He also received the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award from the University of South Carolina in 2011. He received a USEPA Environmental Justice Achievement Award given to Low Country Alliance for Model Communities, North Charleston, SC and Mitigation Agreement Committee. Additionally, Dr. Wilson received the Steve Wing International Environmental Justice Award in 2008.

Dr. Wilson, a two-time EPA STAR fellow, EPA MAI fellow, Udall Scholar, NASA Space Scholar, and Thurgood Marshall Scholar, received his BS degree in Biology/Ecotoxicology with a minor in Environmental Science from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1998. He received training in environmental health in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Wilson earned his MS degree in 2000 from UNC-Chapel Hill and his PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005.

Joanne Throwe


Areas of Expertise:
Environmental Protection
Governmental Relations
Natural Resurces

Joanne Throwe

Joanne Throwe was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in October 2015. In this role, she manages the day-to-day operations and executes the direction and vision of the department.

Joanne brings 25 years of environmental and natural resources experience at the state and federal level. Most recently, she served as the director of the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, where she provided technical assistance on financing issues related to environmental protection activities.

Prior to her work at the Environmental Finance Center, Joanne held leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative Research and Extension Services, and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. She also served 2 years in the Peace Corps, stationed in the South Pacific.

Joanne lives in Anne Arundel County.