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Event Update:

Thank you for helping us to make this year's Summit such an amazing event! We had a great time and hope you did too. If you couldn't make it, you can watch the recordings at the button above. Please also keep an eye out for next year's Summit! 

If you're interested in helping to plan next year's Summit, please fill out this Google Form and we'll be in touch. We'd love to have you on the team!

 

The Virginia Environmental Justice Summit is a conference to engage undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the state in multidisciplinary conversations around issues of environmental justice.

CONFERENCE GOALS

LEARN

about environmental justice issues impacting 

Virginia communities

BUILD

advocacy and activism skills for making the change you want to see

NETWORK

with environmental justice activists from other universities

Guiding Vision

To unify and empower student environmental justice advocates from throughout the state of Virginia

Planned for students, by students.

This conference is a student-run initiative started by the Mason Environmental Justice Alliance at George Mason University. 

Our planning committee is made up exclusively of undergraduate students with support from graduate students, faculty, and staff.

We would love to have representatives from other student organizations, departments, and universities on the committee. Interested in helping plan the summit? We want people from every discipline and background! Please email the project manager, Emma Gregory at egregor3@gmu.edu

 

The Speakers

Dr. Don Edwards

CEO and Principal of Justice and Sustainability Associates (JSA)

Don Edwards is CEO and Principal of Justice and Sustainability Associates (JSA), a Washington, DC-based firm he co-founded in 1999. He is considered one of the most deft facilitator/mediators and civic engagement designers working today in the field of development. JSA designs and manages inclusive, transparent and participatory decision-making processes taking place, primarily against the backdrop of urbanization and the conflicts it breeds. His introduction to sustainable development came in 1988 when he participated in a panel sponsored by the London-based Panos Institute about the role of under-development in the emergence of what became the global AIDS pandemic. Since then, Edwards has served as the executive director of the Panos Institute-Americas, co-founded the U.S. Citizens Network for the UN Conference on Environment and Development, represented the “CitNet” as a member of the U.S. delegation to the "Earth Summit" in 1992 and served as the CitNet’s Washington Representative and a National Co-Chair. In the mid-90s, he organized town meetings across the US for the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the Second UN Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul. As director of the U.S. Network for Habitat II, he also helped manage the NGO International Facilitating Group. From 1993-96, Don served as chair of the Environmental Justice Working Group of the Sustainable Communities Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, the Clinton Administration’s post-Rio national sustainable development process. During that period, he also served as the facilitator of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). From 2000-10, Don also served as an external sustainability advisor to The Dow Chemical Company. From 2005-2013, he was also a senior associate of America Speaks. Don is an urbanist and enjoys talking and writing about creating just, smart and sustainable cities that work for all.

Jessica Sims

Community Outreach Coordinator at the Virginia Richmond's Sierra Club Chapter

Jessica Sims currently serves as the Virginia Chapter's Richmond Community Outreach Coordinator and as lead for our Stop the Pipelines Campaign. She works on a range of issues including climate, clean energy, coal ash, and more. Prior to joining the Sierra Club, Jessica volunteered extensively with Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the James River Association, and served as President of artspace, a non-profit gallery in South Richmond. Her passion for the safety of Virginia’s waterways and the environmental health of the Commonwealth is part of her broader commitment to the Richmond region, where she grew up and currently resides. Jessica enjoys singing in a klezmer band, creating artwork and canoeing on the James with friends and family.  

Gustavo Angeles

Environmental Justice Program Coordinator at the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Gustavo Angeles is a Peruvian who moved to the United States in 1999. He worked as an attorney in Peru and earned a Master’s and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Arizona. He has worked with immigrant communities, seeking ways to improve their living conditions, linguistic and cultural maintenance, and rights. Currently, as an Environmental Justice Program Coordinator in the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, he is working on expanding the focus on environmental justice by working with Sierra Club local groups, staff and volunteers to integrate EJ principles into to existing campaigns and by providing support to directly impacted communities who reach out to the Sierra Club seeking help with issues related to environmental justice.

Mitra Kashani

Climate Organizer at the Sunrise Movement

Mitra Kashani is a second-year biology Master’s student at George Mason University, and a climate organizer with the Sunrise Movement. She helped co-start and lead the Mason Environmental Justice Alliance (formerly the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition) as an undergraduate and has been dedicated to campus and community organizing ever since. Mitra is currently the hub (chapter) leader for Sunrise Movement Virginia, which is part of a larger movement of young people fighting to stop climate change while creating millions of good jobs in the process (i.e. fighting for a Green New Deal!) Mitra is passionate about fighting for a just transition to clean, renewable economy in Virginia and beyond – one that centers communities and people most impacted by the climate crisis and the extractive economy that perpetuated it. Aside from organizing, Mitra is completing her Master’s thesis at the U.S. Geological Survey where she studies the environmental health impacts of illegal oil and gas wastewater disposal on public lands.

Michelle Sternthal

Director of Advocacy and Policy at the Roosevelt Institute

Michelle Sternthal is Director of Advocacy and Policy at the Roosevelt Institute, where she lead's the Institute's engagement on the hill. She has almost two decades of experience working as a policy advocate, with a particular focus on racial/ethnic disparities, economic development, and labor rights. Prior to this position, Dr. Sternthal was Senior Policy Advisor for Oxfam America, where she worked to address the structural factors driving poverty in the U.S. She previously served as Policy Director for the Main Street Alliance and as Deputy Director of Federal Affairs for the March of Dimes. Dr. Sternthal received a PhD in Public Policy and Sociology from the University of Michigan and post doctoral fellowship in social epidemiology from Harvard University.  She is proud to live in Washington, DC with her partner and three children.

Anneke DeLuycker

Association Professor at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Dr. Anneke DeLuycker is a biological anthropologist specializing in the ecology, behavior, and conservation of primates, particularly in the Neotropics. Broadly, her research concerns how ecological and evolutionary processes influence behavioral patterns, including the evolution of feeding and foraging plasticity and the evolution of mating systems. She conducted the first long-term field study on the critically endangered Andean titi monkey in Peru, as a Fulbright Scholar. She is passionate about developing local and community-based initiatives to enhance conservation methodology. Dr. DeLuycker is currently Associate Professor at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, where she develops, coordinates and teaches hands-on, experiential courses in conservation biology. She brings her international experience, scientific expertise, and anthropological perspective to inform and strengthen her teaching and outreach endeavors.

The Speakers

Dr. Don Edwards

CEO and Principal of Justice and Sustainability Associates (JSA)

Don Edwards is CEO and Principal of Justice and Sustainability Associates (JSA), a Washington, DC-based firm he co-founded in 1999. He is considered one of the most deft facilitator/mediators and civic engagement designers working today in the field of development. JSA designs and manages inclusive, transparent and participatory decision-making processes taking place, primarily against the backdrop of urbanization and the conflicts it breeds. His introduction to sustainable development came in 1988 when he participated in a panel sponsored by the London-based Panos Institute about the role of under-development in the emergence of what became the global AIDS pandemic. Since then, Edwards has served as the executive director of the Panos Institute-Americas, co-founded the U.S. Citizens Network for the UN Conference on Environment and Development, represented the “CitNet” as a member of the U.S. delegation to the "Earth Summit" in 1992 and served as the CitNet’s Washington Representative and a National Co-Chair. In the mid-90s, he organized town meetings across the US for the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and the Second UN Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul. As director of the U.S. Network for Habitat II, he also helped manage the NGO International Facilitating Group. From 1993-96, Don served as chair of the Environmental Justice Working Group of the Sustainable Communities Task Force of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, the Clinton Administration’s post-Rio national sustainable development process. During that period, he also served as the facilitator of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). From 2000-10, Don also served as an external sustainability advisor to The Dow Chemical Company. From 2005-2013, he was also a senior associate of America Speaks. Don is an urbanist and enjoys talking and writing about creating just, smart and sustainable cities that work for all.

Jessica Sims

Richmond Community Outreach Coordinator at the Virginia Sierra Club Chapter

Jessica Sims currently serves as the Virginia Chapter's Richmond Community Outreach Coordinator and as lead for our Stop the Pipelines Campaign. She works on a range of issues including climate, clean energy, coal ash, and more. Prior to joining the Sierra Club, Jessica volunteered extensively with Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the James River Association, and served as President of artspace, a non-profit gallery in South Richmond. Her passion for the safety of Virginia’s waterways and the environmental health of the Commonwealth is part of her broader commitment to the Richmond region, where she grew up and currently resides. Jessica enjoys singing in a klezmer band, creating artwork and canoeing on the James with friends and family.  

Gustavo Angeles

Environmental Justice Program Coordinator at the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Gustavo Angeles is a Peruvian who moved to the United States in 1999. He worked as an attorney in Peru and earned a Master’s and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Arizona. He has worked with immigrant communities, seeking ways to improve their living conditions, linguistic and cultural maintenance, and rights. Currently, as an Environmental Justice Program Coordinator in the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, he is working on expanding the focus on environmental justice by working with Sierra Club local groups, staff and volunteers to integrate EJ principles into to existing campaigns and by providing support to directly impacted communities who reach out to the Sierra Club seeking help with issues related to environmental justice.

Mitra Kashani

Climate Organizer at the Sunrise Movement

Mitra Kashani is a second-year biology Master’s student at George Mason University, and a climate organizer with the Sunrise Movement. She helped co-start and lead the Mason Environmental Justice Alliance (formerly the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition) as an undergraduate and has been dedicated to campus and community organizing ever since. Mitra is currently the hub (chapter) leader for Sunrise Movement Virginia, which is part of a larger movement of young people fighting to stop climate change while creating millions of good jobs in the process (i.e. fighting for a Green New Deal!) Mitra is passionate about fighting for a just transition to clean, renewable economy in Virginia and beyond – one that centers communities and people most impacted by the climate crisis and the extractive economy that perpetuated it. Aside from organizing, Mitra is completing her Master’s thesis at the U.S. Geological Survey where she studies the environmental health impacts of illegal oil and gas wastewater disposal on public lands.

Travis Hammill

Eastern Grassroots Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA)

Travis Hammill is the Eastern Grassroots Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), a wilderness advocacy organization based in Salt Lake City, Utah that works to protect public lands from a myriad of threats that could decimate the natural qualities of these lands. Travis is stationed in SUWA’s Washington, DC office and organizes activists and contractors across the eastern states. He also works closely with SUWA’s legislative team, roaming the halls of Congress and ensuring that every American has a voice in protecting public lands.

Travis graduated from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA with a degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, where he now teaches "Grassroots Coalitions and Campaign Management". Before working with SUWA, Travis was employed by the outdoor retailer REI in the Fairfax and Bailey’s Crossroads stores in the DC Metro Area. He currently resides in Alexandria, VA with his wife Rachel, and when he isn’t in the office, you’ll find him out on the trails.

Anneke DeLuycker

Associate Professor at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Dr. Anneke DeLuycker is a biological anthropologist specializing in the ecology, behavior, and conservation of primates, particularly in the Neotropics. Broadly, her research concerns how ecological and evolutionary processes influence behavioral patterns, including the evolution of feeding and foraging plasticity and the evolution of mating systems. She conducted the first long-term field study on the critically endangered Andean titi monkey in Peru, as a Fulbright Scholar. She is passionate about developing local and community-based initiatives to enhance conservation methodology. Dr. DeLuycker is currently Associate Professor at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, where she develops, coordinates and teaches hands-on, experiential courses in conservation biology. She brings her international experience, scientific expertise, and anthropological perspective to inform and strengthen her teaching and outreach endeavors.

Mark Sabath

Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center

Mark Sabath is a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville with a focus on litigation challenging the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and protecting clean water.  A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Mark worked for 13 years in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Enforcement Section, litigating Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Superfund cases.  He spent a year living in Costa Rica before joining SELC’s Virginia office in 2018.

Muriel Miller Branch

Founder and Coordinator of the Agee Miller Mayo Dungy Pine Grove Project

Muriel Miller Branch, Founder and Coordinator of the Agee Miller Mayo Dungy Pine Grove Project, is an Ordained Minister, Writer, Historian, Retired Educator and Social Justice Activists (since the 1960s). She’s a graduate of the Historic Pine Grove Elementary School Virginia (1953) and Luther Porter Jackson High (1960) in Cumberland County, Virginia. She received her BS and M.Ed degrees from Virginia State University in 1964 and 1978 respectively. She received her M.DIV degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, VUU, in 2010. Muriel is the author of nine published books, seven children’s books; recipient of the R.E.B Award for Teaching Excellence (1992); President of the Maggie Walker Historical Foundation (1990-2000), which was responsible for obtaining National Historic Site designation for Maggie Walker’s Home in Richmond, Va.; recipient of Scholar/Writer Fellowship - Virginia Humanities (UVA- 1999), and Founder of Women Inspired to Transform, a mentoring ministry for young women. Muriel is currently engaged in the fight for the historical and environmental survival of Pine Grove Elementary School, which was recently placed on the Virginia and the National Registries of Historic Places, and the community it served from 1917-1964. Pine Grove Elementary School was built in 1917, with matching funds ($500.00) from Black citizens, on land donated by Black citizens, using plans designed by Black architects at Tuskegee Institute, for Black children in segregated Cumberland County, Virginia. This historic treasure, and the quality of life for remaining residents of the Pine Grove community are being threatened by the proposed installation of a 1200 acre landfill adjacent to the school and in the middle of the historic African American Pine Grove Community.

Michael Carter Jr.

11th Generation Farmer, Carter Farms

Michael Carter Jr. is an 11th generation farmer in the United States and is the 5th generation to farm on Carter Farms, his family’s century farm in Orange County, Virginia. There he grows ethnic vegetables and gives workshops on how to grow and market ethnic African/Asian vegetables. At Virginia State University, Carter works in the capacity of the Small Farm Resource Center Coordinator for the Small Farm Outreach Program as well as food safety coordinator and trainer. Michael sits on the board of directors of the Virginia Association of Biological Farmers (VABF) and Virginia Foodshed Capital respectively. Michael is a recipient of the Taking Nature Black Environmental Champion by the Audubon Naturalist Society in 2020. He also serves as the state coordinator for the Black Church Food Security Network and as the food safety coordinator for the Six State Farm to Table organization. He acquired an agricultural economics degree from North Carolina A&T State University and has worked in Ghana, Kenya and Israel as an agronomist and organic agricultural consultant. Carter Farms has birthed Hen Asem (Our Story) , Africulture and the black farmer tax that teaches and expounds on the contributions of Africans and African Americans to agriculture worldwide and the many stories that history almost forgot.

Wanda Roberts

Concerned Citizens of Charles City County

In 2006 Wanda Roberts became a “come here” Charles City County resident. In late June of 2019 she became aware that the Board of Supervisors was in the process of pushing thru two fracked gas power plants to be built with little to no notification to the residents of Charles City.  At this time, she became a C5 (Concerned Citizens of Charles City County) core group member. C5's founding purpose is to bring information to Charles City County residents and empower them to act and make decisions with as much information as possible. Her mission is to stop the merchant power plants from endangering a minority rural community and the people that live there.  The environmental justice issues are too many to ignore. She is a wife of 49 years, mother of 3 daughters, grandmother of 2, retired paralegal, American Red Cross Volunteer, Deacon, prior Sunday School teacher, member and chairman on various committees, Vacation Bible School Director and treasure. 

La'Veesha Allen Rollins

Concerned Citizens of Charles City County

La'Veesha hails from Charles City County, Virginia where she lived her entire childhood and stayed until her junior year of college. Coming from a rural area, she learned that hard-work and independence was the key to success. She spent her summers gardening with her grandparents, caring for horses, helping her parents fix up the house or car, riding ATV's, racing and anything that involved being outside. This up bringing influenced her decision pursue a Bachelor of Interior Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Architecture from Hampton University. Being able to create and live off the land has always been a big part of her life.

 

During her time at Hampton University she studied abroad in Italy for 3 weeks and participated in the Solar Decathlon along side the students of Old Dominion university Engineering Department. Thee solar decathlon home project, Unit Six, can still be viewed online as a option for an affordable net-zero solar home. These two ventures propelled an interest in passive design for La'Veesha.

La'Veesha embarked on the most significant part of her life when she married Shelby W. Rollins II and had two beautiful child, Faith and Shelby! By far her greatest accomplishments! They have taught her that the most important things in life are to spend time with them and enjoy every moment. After work and school they like to have family fun nights, ride horses, ride anything with wheels, dining out at new restaurants and just relaxing at home. 

 

Having a family and knowing how wonderful it was growing up in Charles City, this made her look into returning home and build their forever home. During the search for the perfect parcel it was found that two power plants would come to destroy the one place where La'Veesha could find refuge and solace after dealing with what life brings. Not only was her home community being threatened, but her people were dismissed and treated as if their lives had no meaning. This compelled La'Veesha to join with 8 other core members and 3 consultants to organize into C5- Concerned Citizens of Charles City County. There intention is to provide better opportunities for the community and protect the public from being mistreated and overlook. Her fight against environmental injustice and preservation of land has just begun. 

 

Agenda

March 28, 2020

This conference will focus on environmental justice issues in Virginia. The three pathways will focus on: Water Quality and Access, Mining and Pipelines, and Food Justice.

 9:30 am                                  Event Introduction

10:00 - 10:45 am                    Keynote Speaker 

11:00 - 11:45 am                    Break-Out Sessions

Mining & Pipelines            

Food Justice                      

Water Quality & Access    

12:00 - 12:45 pm                   Lunch break & virtual social hour

1:00 - 1:45 pm                       Panel

2:00 - 2:45 pm                       Skills-Building Workshops

Grassroots Organizing      

Policy & Advocacy             

Stakeholder Engagement 

3:00 - 3:45 pm                      "Make & Take" Action                                                                 Plan Drafting

4:00 - 4:30 pm                       Closing

Interested in Sponsoring the Event?

We'd love to have you on board and have several options for your participation!

Email Hannah Adamson at hadamson@gmu.edu to get started or request more information.

Organizational Sponsorship Levels

Tidewater Level  | $300
  • Logo on website

  • Name listed in Summit program

Piedmont Level  |  $500
  • Logo on website

  • Name listed in Summit program

  • Shout out on Summit social media accounts

Blue Ridge Level  |  $750
  • Logo on website

  • Full-page advertisement in Summit program

  • Shout out on Summit social media accounts

  • Name in Summit press release and advertisements

  • Reserved table at Summit

Individual Donations

This conference will not be possible without support from passionate leaders and supporters like you.
 
We would be greatly appreciative for all donations you are able to make, at any level. In recognition, we'll include your name in the list of supporters at the Summit. At this time, we can only accept donations in the form of checks.
To donate, please make a check payable to "George Mason University" with "Mason Environmental Justice Alliance / EJ Summit" in the memo line. 
 
Mail all checks and a note with your name and email to:
Hannah Adamson
4450 Rivanna River Way PMB #5127
Fairfax, VA 22030

Special thanks to our Piedmont Level Sponsor:

 
 

Contact Us

To learn more, please subscribe. If you have additional questions, please email the Project Coordinator, Emma Gregory, at egregor3@gmu.edu

Also follow us on social media and use the hashtag #2020VirginiaEJSummit

2020 Virginia Environmental Justice Summit

Engage. Learn. Act.

What

2020 Virginia Environmental Justice Conference

When

March 28th, 2020

Where

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