Omaha, NE - Mark Welsch was raised on a farm in southeastern Nebraska where he learned about environmental and economic problems first hand. His father was politically aware and active, teaching him the importance of caring and working for things that he cares about. In the past six years Mark has played a key part in pushing the Omaha City Council and Mayor and the state's Senators and Governor to pass laws that clean the indoor working environment by making almost all workplaces 100% smoke-free. He has worked with local and statewide media for over 20 years. Many people in the media seek Mark out for factual information on these issues. Knowledge from his past efforts has helped him understand how to get elected officials to make other needed changes. Mark serves as the Omaha Coordinator for Nebraskans for Peace (NFP) and works with the other three members of NFP's staff, local and statewide volunteers to promote peace and justice in Nebraska, the USA and the world.
Beata Tsosie-Pena is of mixed ancestry from Santa Clara Pueblo and El Rito,NM. She has degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She is also now a Green For All (Class 5)Fellow. She is certified in Infant Massage,Permaculture Design,as a Developmental Specialist, is a poet,farmer,and also plays bass in the band,Reference Man,with her husband. She is serving in her third year and is currently Chair of the Santa Clara Day School Board. She has two daughters who she plans on homeschooling in the Fall along with her nephew. For the last four years she has worked with the local non-profit, Tewa Women United, in their Environmental Health and Justice Program. She facilities a bi-monthly community focus group who works to self-educate and address local environmental and reproductive justice issues concerning nuclear weapons contamination,and has traveled nationally in various capacities through this work.
Buffalo, NY - Originally from Washington Heights, Natasha moved to Buffalo for school, where she earned her degree in Environmental Studies. She was instantly culture shocked to find, unlike the melting pot of New York City, a distinct lack of people of color at the University at Buffalo. She fell in love with Buffalo because of the pride and strong sense of community expressed by the people, but she was also aware that something was missing. Buffalo is extremely segregated in access to health care, reliable transportation, access to healthy food including fruits and vegetables, jobs, education, and affordable housing. Her experience has informed her work as a Community Organizer at the Clean Air Coalition bringing people of color and other underrepresented people to the green movement. As an organizer she works to develop leaders, run campaigns, advocate for public health policies, and train community members to do their own street science.
Gallup, NM - Anna's roots derive from Dinetah (Navajo land). She was born in Richmond, CA. She came back to her roots in 1981 and began working for her community Chichiltah (among the oaks). Her mother and father taught her to help people who need support. Her father was a WWII veteran who received the purple heart and bronze medal and both her parents were union members of the railroad. Her brother also served as a secretary for the IBEW. Her family taught her the value of community and helping one another through organizing for the greater good of the people. Anna has been involved in policy work in the nuclear industrial complex, and social and economic justice issues among the Navajo and worldwide. In the past ten years, she has influenced young indigenous leaders to take on important issues as well as the roots of oppression and decolonization. She has built the capacity of five grassroots groups addressing issues from human rights abuses to predatory lending. Her life as an Indigenous Woman and grandmother, and her work in the 60's and 70's with Angela Davis, Dennis Banks, Huey Newton, Caesar Chavez and the American Indian Movement (AIM for Freedom) Survival School in Oakland, CA give her the insight to continue to work for these issues. She deeply believes that the history and lessons of those eras need to be taught if we are to do justice to past leaders who paved the way for us today. Her worldview is about love, respect and having an impact on this beautiful changeable world!
Tucson, AZ - Luis Alberto Perales is a native son of the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He is the son of an immigrant mother and an 8th generation Tejano father. His rural upbringing along the U.S./Mexico borderlands is the backdrop to his intimate relationship with land and cultural preservation. A transplant to Tucson, AZ and the Sonoran Desert, Luis has spent over a decade in the Old Pueblo. He is a graduate from the University of Arizona, an alumnus of the Mexican American and Raza Studies Department. For over ten years, he has directed his energies to the support and development of youth and their community. His expertise has led him to train and develop young people in the areas of health promotion, culture, and environmental sustainability. A true testament to his desire to meet community needs is his role as co-founder and community organizer of Tierra Y Libertad Organization (TYLO), a grassroots organization that works for positive social change and for the respect of land, people, and culture. His leadership and dedication to this work has led to the creation of the Barrio Sustainability Project, a community development endeavor dedicated to organizing the South Side Tucson community around the need for a model of urban green living and self sufficiency that is socially relevant and culturally based.
New Orleans, LA - Daniel Nguyen works as a project manager with MQVN Community Development Corporation in New Orleans East. His work encompasses workforce development, environmental justice, and incubation of aquaponics and other sustainable industries. He is currently the project manager of the start-up enterprise, VEGGI Farmer's Cooperative, which utilizes sustainable practices such as aquaponics to create local jobs and provide local produce to New Orleans area restaurants and markets. Nguyen has also worked extensively the Gulf region after the 2010 BP oil drilling disaster, providing technical assistance to affected workers, leading community-based participatory research on the environmental impacts of the spill, and helping to develop a campaign for Gulf-wide subsistence compensation.
Recipient of the Fellows Fund micro-grant award for: VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative Composting Project MQVN Community Development Corporation – New Orleans, LA
The VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative Composting Project was designed to divert waste from landfills in the community and support local farmers by building composting systems on farms and working with residents and businesses to provide food waste. The project will increase local food security by promoting local and sustainable agriculture and engaging community members in working with local farmers. The composting business will also serve as a revenue stream for the VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative making it more sustainable in the long term.
Cedar Crest, NM - Travis McKenzie was born in San Diego, California, and grew up in New Mexico. He has dedicated his life to serving mother earth and the many people that care about life. He has gone to conferences, visited the legislature to participate in making positive change, and has created and maintained gardens in Albuquerque and across New Mexico. He works at many gardens and provides seeds and knowledge to anyone who wants to plant. He also works at eight after school programs and helps facilitate gardening at schools. He is currently a garden coordinator for S.W.O.P. (the Southwest Organizing Project) with Project Feed The Hood.
Detroit, MI - Ahmina S. Maxey is the Associate Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council in Detroit, MI. She directs the Stand Up! Speak Out! program – the advocacy arm of EMEAC. Stand Up! Speak Out! and its programs and activities are designed to advocate for environmental justice in Southeast Michigan through policy initiatives while encouraging community involvement through youth and adult education and training. Maxey is an experienced environmental organizer and has educated City Council members on measures to improve Detroit's air quality. Maxey played an integral role in organizing the US Social Forum. She served as a co-chair on both the national and local outreach committees, working to bring 20,000 people to the Forum. She was also the lead coordinator for the "Clean Air, Good Jobs, and Justice" march during the forum, which brought together over 1,200 environmental justice activists and organizers from across the country. Prior to joining EMEAC, she worked as a Research Assistant for the Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative (MELDI) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Science in the Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan in 2007.
Las Vegas, NV - Laura Martin was raised in Southern Colorado and now lives in Las Vegas where she works for the statewide progressive organization, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Laura handles PLAN's communications and her program work includes mining accountability, foreclosure organizing, health care advocacy and tax/revenue messaging.
Tallahassee, FL - Ariana Marshall is a graduate student in the Environmental Sciences Institute, serves on the Florida AMU Environment and Sustainability Council, and works as a FAMU representative for the Southeastern Green network. Being from the Caribbean island of Barbados, she attributes her interest in environmental issues primarily to the impacts of overdevelopment she has seen in the nine-year time-span she has been in the US. Through her studies, she has come to better understand that many of the environmental issues faced in the Caribbean are parallel to those faced in underserved communities in the US. Her research interests include climate change adaptation and justice, environmental education, and international coastal affairs. Currently a doctoral candidate, she is focused on the role of public participation in coastal land use planning and climate change adaptation. Ariana believes that solutions can be found in empowering more students to feel confident and informed as they engage in the shaping of environmental policies and decisions. Through working with the Southeastern Green network on recent summits, which focused on the role of HBCU's in addressing issues related to agriculture, food access and the sustainability of black farmers, she intends to activate more HBCU students around these issues.