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Peggy Shepard, executive director of Harlem’s WEACT, Mary Nelson founder of Life, Carl Anthony and Dr. Paloma Pavel, co-directors of the Breakthrough Communities Project discuss how we achieve environmental sustainability.
Peggy Shepard is co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and has a long history of organizing and engaging Northern Manhattan residents in community-based planning and campaigns to address environmental protection and environmental health policy locally and nationally. She has successfully combined grassroots organizing, environmental advocacy, and environmental health community-based participatory research to become a national leader in advancing environmental policy and the perspective of environmental justice in urban communities — to ensure that the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment extends to all. She serves on the Executive Committee of the National Black Environmental Justice Network and the Board of Advisors of the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and was the first female chair of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mary Nelson is President Emeritus of Bethel New Life a faith rooted community development corporation, where she served for 26 years. Bethel pioneered in creative community based efforts to build healthier, sustainable and equitable communities on Chicago’s west side. Some of the most notable projects include the adaptive re-use of a closed down inner city hospital, and a smart, green, mixed use commercial center at a transit stop and creating social enterprises based on the skills and strengths of the community. The Bethel efforts are examples of ABCD in action. She still lives, works and worships in the same low income African American community on Chicago’s west side. Mary actively participates in city-wide, national policy advocacy efforts. Mary seeks to be faithful to God’s call to the work of peace, community and justice.
Carl C. Anthony is revered as a social and environmental justice leader. He was the founding director of Urban Habitat, one of the country’s first environmental justice organizations, known for pushing the mainstream environmental movement to confront issues of race and class. With colleague Luke Cole from the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, he edited and published the Race, Poverty and the Environment Journal , the first environmental justice periodical in the United States. Carl’s widely praised 2017 book is titled, “ The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race.”
Paloma Pavel, PhD, is President of Earth House Center. She is co-founder of the Breakthrough Communities Project and served as Director of Strategic Communications for the Sustainable Metropolitan Communities Initiative at the Ford Foundation. Pavel’s academic background includes graduate study at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Harvard University. Her research at LSE addresses South African Economics in the pre- and post-Apartheid eras. Her dissertation (Organizational Culture and Leadership Development) was part of a five-year study by the Carnegie Foundation on the workplace in America, which culminated in the publication Good Work. She has taught at many Bay Area institutions, including the California Institute for Integral Studies, where she co-chaired the graduate degree program in Organizational Development.