EPOC is a network by and for people of color working in various sectors of the environmental movement. If you are a person of color and would like to join EPOC, please email the chapter contact address below or email the CDE team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Karen works as a community engagement coordinator for Portland Parks & Recreation, and focuses her efforts on increasing access to the bureau’s services and facilities for underrepresented communities, building staff capacity towards greater inclusiveness and working on equity and access initiatives in the bureau’s strategic plan. Karen’s prior work included City of Gresham’s Department of Environmental services, where she led outreach initiatives to increase awareness about resource conservation and recycling issues in the community as the City’s recycling coordinator, and work with Metro’s Solid Waste & Recycling division and with Hacienda CDC in the Cully Neighborhood. She is passionate about connecting and empowering communities towards authentic civic engagement. She currently serves on the leadership team of Portland’s Environmental Professionals of Color, Verde’s community outreach advisory committee, and is a diversity fellowship graduate research assistant at PSU, completing her master’s in urban and regional planning with an environmental specialization.
Gladys is an inspired leader who has honed her love of nature and her passion for mentoring young people into a personal mission of nurturing environmentalism in youth of color. Gladys took flight from New York City’s projects through nature, going to an environmental high school and becoming an Urban Park Ranger working with underserved youth. Moving to the West Coast, she continued working with communities of color, promoting healthy living and environmental education at the Community Cycling Center and Forest Park Conservancy. Working with Portland Audubon since 2011, Gladys is dedicated to building diversity in the environmental community, first connecting children to meaningful experiences in nature through Audubon’s Community-based Camps and now leading Audubon’s new TALON program, helping connect young adults of color to environmental careers. Gladys spends part of her time at Audubon’s eastside office at Leach Botanical Garden, bringing environmental programs to new communities.
Sam works as a policy analyst in Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability. While his main efforts revolve around developing a financing program for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings, Sam also works on projects at the intersection of health and the environment, exploring the use of green infrastructure to improve not only water and air quality, but also emotional health. Sam is a strong believer in sustainability, with equity at its core. Whether through access to green jobs, building retrofits, or the forests in our backyards, Sam is constantly looking to ensure access to all. Sam also believes he’s part of the unofficial PDX POC retention committee.
Rob is the Director of Digital Engagement at NW Earth Institute (NWEI), where he supports individuals and organizations interested in implementing transformational learning and behavior change initiatives that foster leadership in sustainability. His work has a strong focus on the use of digital technologies that advance the organization’s mission. Rob has worked in sustainability education for ten years and has a deep passion for progressive pedagogies that promote leadership and equity. Prior to joining NWEI, Rob managed waste minimization projects across the Portland metro region with Community Environmental Services. Rob holds a master’s degree in Sustainability Education from Portland State University and an undergraduate degree from Prescott College. Rob has been deeply impacted by CDE’s E42 Leadership programs and is excited to participate in community building initiatives related to this work.
Amira is the Policy and Advocacy Director for the Urban League of Portland where she carries out organization-wide priorities to empower the African-American community to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life through meaningful civic engagement and advocacy. Amira has a background in environmental science from Skidmore College in New York and a J.D. and Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. Prior to joining the Urban League, Amira worked for a prestigious environmental consulting firm on various energy projects as a regulatory specialist and consultant. Before that, she worked for the City of Portland on equitable contracting and in the 2015 Oregon legislature on environmental and natural resources policy. Amira is a dedicated volunteer with environmental organizations including the Sierra Club and Oregon Environmental Council. When she’s not working, Amira enjoys playing with her dog, knitting and crafting, or getting lost in Powell’s Bookstore.
June is the Program Coordinator for Community Collaborations and Investment at United Way of the Columbia Willamette where she helps to improve outcomes for low-income families and their children by supporting United Way’s investments in non-profits that help to strengthen community, help students succeed, and keep families stable. June also has a background in environmental conservation having received a MEM from Duke University. Prior to joining United Way, June worked on Oregon’s sage grouse mitigation program, as an environmental consultant in stormwater and hazardous waste compliance, and on forest and marine conservation in SE Asia. When she’s not working, you might find June playing the guitar or violin, shooting hoops, or eating donuts in one of Portland’s many donut shops.
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Lili is the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) Northwest Recruiter & Coordinator and is based out of SCA’s Seattle office. She has held positions with respected environmental agencies and nonprofits such as Earth Corps, the US Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and Nature Consortium. Lylianna holds a BA in English, a certificate in Wetland Science and Management from the University of Washington, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. Lili is a lifelong learner and enjoys deepening her understanding of herself and the world. She is a graduate of the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Advancing Latina Leaders in Non Profits program, United Way of King County’s Project LEAD, and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program. She currently volunteers on the leadership team for the Seattle chapter of the Environmental Professionals of Color and is a commissioner on the Seattle Women’s Commission. Lili is passionate about ensuring that the environmental movement is a diverse, equitable, and inclusive one and weaves these values into her work. In her spare time, you’ll find her traipsing in the mountains of Washington, watching horror films, or curling up with a good book.
I am the first-born daughter of Chinese immigrants. My parents left their impoverished country to go to “the Gold Mountain,” their poetic reference for the United States, in pursuit of prosperity and a better life. They settled in a small town just north of the Bronx within a whiff of Long Island Sound. I can easily remember the symphony of saltwater aromas from fresh brine to seaweed to anaerobic wetland mud at low tide. Intermingled with these memories are the print and television images of the violence of the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam and the burning of the Bronx. My father worked in the Bronx, and I recall from drives to his workplace seeing entire neighborhoods looking like bombed out war zones.
As a young child, I experienced the wooded parks in my neighborhood as cherished places. Reflections about peace, justice and equity were seeded beneath the verdant maple leaf canopies. I ran to the safety of the woods when bully children followed me after school in angry swarms of ignorance and bigotry. The trees protected me. The flowers soothed the hurt. The soft brown earth absorbed my frustrations. They accepted me unconditionally, and I understood I was part of them. I made a childhood pact with the trees that I would pay their kindness forward by teaching their lessons.
As an adult, I found my voice through environmental education. The majority of my career has been in civil service. I’ve invested my time in government believing in it as a change agent. As it turns out, government has made a change agent of me. While it has allowed me the opportunity to serve a vast diversity of people in a variety of settings, I cannot ignore how few of the children of color I have taught over the years have grown up to join me in environmental work. I cannot ignore the historic marginalization of people of color from making decisions for and about the places they live, work and play – their environment. The disproportionality is disturbing in light of the diversity of peoples borne from the wilds of this earth. The trees call to me to act. This has led me to engage in the work of the Center for Diversity and the Environment and its EPOC project.
Shin Shin Hsia
Shin Shin Hsia is passionate about shifting the culture of the environmental movement and redefining what it means to be an environmental leader.
She has spent time working in campaign management, corps programming, fair trade, international programs & exchange and primate ecology. She is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, a graduate of United Way of King County’s Project LEAD (Leadership Effectiveness and Diversity) board training program, a graduate of the Center for Diversity & the Environment’s 2042 Today & E42 Leadership Programs, a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals Fellow and a published primatologist!
She holds a B.S. in Environmental & Conservation Biology from the University of Washington. During her studies spent time volunteering at a Giant Panda breeding center in China, mapping vegetation in the Rhine Valley of Germany and chasing Bamboo Lemurs in the rain forests of Madagascar. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, meeting up with the EPOC Seattle Chapter, and talking about food.
Tiffany sources inspiration from listening to Samwise Gamgee monologues from Lord of the Rings. She got her start in politics by registering voters and volunteering on local campaigns in her hometown of Des Moines, WA. After graduating from the University of Washington, Tiffany traveled along the East Coast organizing college students on an array of public interest issues. However, the lack of mountains sent her scurrying back to the West where she worked for four years to expand Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters’ volunteer and outreach programs. Tiffany is now building up local community power in South King and Pierce County with Fuse as their Organizing Director. She also volunteers on the leadership committee for Environmental Professionals of Color (EPOC). In her spare time, you can find Tiffany singing bad (read: awesome) 80’s pop songs at karaoke.
Alberto J. Rodríguez
Alberto has three main passions in his life: environment, education, and social justice. Currently he is the Environmental and Community Health Programs Manager for the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/ Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG), a non-profit that works to engage, inform, educate, and empower environmental justice communities affected by the Duwamish River Superfund site in Seattle, WA through the public process of the cleanup and pollution source control. He recently joined the Executive Committee (ExCom) for the Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club; in this capacity, he plans on furthering the work the chapter is and has performed in regard to equity, environmental justice, diversity, and inclusion.
Originally from Honduras, Alberto studied Biology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH). In Honduras, he taught Biology, Genetics, and Zoology at UNAH for several years (2004, 2006-2009), assisted in a research study about jaguars in 2009, and worked as the Environmental Projects Coordinator and Divemaster at Alton’s Dive Center in Utila, Bay Islands (2009-2010), coordinating whale shark research; lionfish removal efforts; and managing a sea turtle rescue center and a queen conch nursery. In the U.S., Alberto has worked on and off for environmental non-profits for ten years: EarthCorps – International Crew Leader (2004-2005); People For Puget Sound – Toxics Program Coordinator (2010-2011); and DRCC/TAG – Education and Outreach Program Manager (2011-2014) and Environmental and Community Health Programs Manager (2014).
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Emily currently serves as chief environmental policy advisor to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Previously she was a legislative representative at Earthjustice. She holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Oberlin College. She is an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow and editor of the book, “Diversity and the Future of the U.S. Environmental Movement.”
Irv was on the staff of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice & Community Partnerships program for seven years, working with residents of the District of Columbia on a variety of environmental justice issues. He continues today as an independent consultant and activist focusing on community engagement, outreach, training, coaching and meeting facilitation. After working for much of his career as an administrator with the City of New York, Irv came to environmental work following what he terms an “epiphany in nature”- a definite spiritual experience. While visiting the Grand Canyon almost twenty years ago, he embraced the depth of being connected to the natural world. That led to his taking slews of nature classes in herbology, botany, and forestry, etc., and foraging in the wilds of New York’s parks. He volunteered with the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) leading nature walks in their forest, and teaching about nature and the early cultural history of the land that would become the New York City we see today. He also volunteered in NYBG’s children’s garden educating young people in the sciences of nature, thereby hoping to sow the seeds of curiosity, knowledge and environmental stewardship.Longing to formally become an environmental educator, and partly prompted by the life-changing events of 9/11, Irv enrolled in graduate school in his early fifties, thereby proving that it’s never too late to find one’s calling. His mantra became “this is not a practice life and if you want something, no matter what age, go for it.” He subsequently found himself in the hills of New Hampshire at Antioch New England Graduate School, graduating with a Master of Science in Environmental Education in 2005. From there, he relocated to Washington, DC, where had lived in the 1970s, and has been there since. After coming on board at the Sierra Club, Irv worked on various community issues, including efforts to restore DC’s Anacostia River, and promoting greater residential energy efficiency and access to renewable energy to low-income residents. Among Irv’s credits are co-founding and sitting on the advisory council of Groundwork Anacostia River DC, board member of the Dreaming Out Loud youth program, co-founder of the GreenTHINK network, Dismantling Racism workshop facilitator, Fellow of the Green for All Academy, member of the Mayor’s Green Building Advisory Council, recipient of the 2013 Green Room Award for environmental advocacy, and recently, recipient of the DC Office of the Peoples Counsel Consumer Advocacy Award.
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Marcos is dedicated to engaging and inspiring volunteers and community members to connect to nature through restoration projects throughout Los Angeles County. In addition to directing Audubon YES, Marcos’ professional experience comes from several seasons in Alaska, working as a Fisheries and Wildlife biology technician for the U.S. Forest Service and just over 10 years as an Urban Forester in Los Angeles. Most recently, Marcos joined the Audubon California team as Operations and Volunteer Manager for the Audubon Center at Debs Park. Marcos’ formal education is in geology and anthropology which gives him a unique outlook on natural history and provides him with academic and professional experience to engage and empower volunteers to take personal responsibility for their land and local waterways. Marcos hopes that his restoration work encourages community memebers to make healthy lifestyle changes and understand the role and value of all living species. Marcos would also like to see the volunteers become future stewards of the land and seek out continued ways to bring their community together with environmental awareness and compassion.
Marcos is a native of Northeast Los Angeles and loves to bird with his five year old daughter Paloma Ziji and his 2 year old son Bija Fox along the LA River.
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Donna Hope calls herself “a dual-agent”, working as a Policy Advisor in energy-efficiency in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, and employed by the Washington, D.C. based non-profit Institute for Market Transformations (IMT). Since January 2012, she has been assisting with quality control and data analytics of the PlaNYC Greener, Greater Buildings Plan (GGBP), coordinating with local and national stakeholders and supporting outreach initiatives. Previously, Donna was the first Program Manager of the City University of New York (CUNY) Benchmark Help Center, a helpline to assist in compliance with Local Law 84: Benchmarking. Prior to policy advocacy for NYC, Donna worked in private environmental servicing firms, consulted for an independent food compost company, and held multiple research positions in the NY public sector. In 2000, she earned dual undergraduate engineering degrees from Spelman College and Renssealer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and in 2003 earned a MS in Environmental Engineering from RPI. Donna is a 2011 Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and a LEED Green Associate.
Donna loves the outdoors, including extensive camping, hiking, and other nature-loving adventures. Here she is pictured at Dead Horse State Park by the Moab Desert of Utah, one of the stops on her recent 7,000 mile cross-country foray in her beloved eco-friendly Prius hybrid.
Ogannaya is the Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. Ogonnaya joined WE ACT in April 2008 as the organization’s Environmental Health and Community-Based Participatory Research Coordinator. Prior to joining the WE ACT team, Ogonnaya worked at Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health as a research associate and instructor, teaching classes and advising students in the Health Geoinformatics program. Her research there focused on environmental health service delivery in New Mexico, where she collaborated with local tribes on preparedness, pan flu, and preparedness training for public health professionals. Ogannaya earned a degree in environmental science from DePaul University, focusing on the historical implications of place and space on the South Side of Chicago. She then completed a master’s degree in public health, researching environmental health service delivery in Zambia while teaching at a local university there. She’s most passionate about using a variety of research methods to translate science for communities of color and low income people.
Ava-Gay is a Biothreat Response Coordinator at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She develops and coordinates the implementation of agency and citywide biological emergency response, preparedness and recovery plans. Prior to this, she was an Environmental Specialist in the agency’s division of Environmental Health and an Outreach and Marketing Associate for the US EPA’s Performance Track Program. She is a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program, earned an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, and a graduate degree from New York Institute of Technology. The gap in mentorship and sponsorship for minorities in the workplace is what propelled Ava-Gay into working with CDE to start the EPOC-NYC chapter. “In my career I’ve met so many smart and hardworking minority environmental professionals who lacked the necessary support for growth and development in a field that has so much to offer.” She also wants to expose high school and college students to the vast career opportunities in the environmental sector. When she isn’t working she’s trying to re-purpose or restore furniture found on NYC streets (or any street), flea markets and garage sales. Ava-Gay was born and raised on the island of Jamaica, which she frequently visits and still calls home.
email epoc.NYC@gmail.com for more information.
Brionté is an organizer for the Sierra Club, Georgia Chapter’s RAIL Campaign. The campaign is the chapter’s transit advocacy arm, which aims to improve and expand transportation alternatives, combat unnecessary road projects, and encourage smart growth and land use. Brionté is a recent graduate of the B.S. in Public Policy program at Georgia State University, and concentrated in Public Management and Governance with a minor in Spanish. During her studies, a focus on environmental sustainability policy led to a variety of positions dealing with issues such as financial dignity, energy efficiency and green building, diversity and equity in the environmental movement, transportation alternatives, renewable energy, and civic engagement. She plans to continue her education in City & Regional Planning and Public Policy. Her goal is to be a catalyst for the switch to a more sustainable economic, environmental, and social paradigm.
In her position of Southeast Campus Field Coordinator for NWF’s Campus Ecology program, Eriqah works to strengthen local and regional networks of campuses committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by organizing networking opportunities/educational events and . She also provides resources to bring HBCUs, like her beloved alma mater into this emerging “green” movement. A proud native of Newark, NJ, Eriqah is a 2010 departmental honors graduate of Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Women’s Studies. While in school, she was an active member and on the executive board of several organizations including the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Spelman chapter. However it was her introduction to Students Endeavoring for Enlightened Environmental Decisions (SEeED), a Morehouse College chartered organization that helped her discover her passion for environmental sustainability and environmental justice. She went on to serve as Internal Director of that organization in her senior year and helped organize two of the largest African American student delegations to PowerShift, once in 2009 and again in 2011. Outside of school, Eriqah has worked extensively with the Retrofit a Million Project (formerly Let’s Raise A Million), was the Georgia Coal Diversity Organizer intern for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and is currently a Leadership Council Member of Outdoor Nation and Advisory Board Member of Southern Energy Network. When she does find free time, Eriqah enjoys bonfires with friends, watching movies, mentoring high school students, and traveling. Her favorite quote is, “I found God in myself and I loved Her fiercely” by Ntozake Shange because we can all find the greatness in ourselves, embrace it and therefore go out and do great things.
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