Admiral Michelle J. Howard
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Veterans Day Celebration on November 6 gave participants the pleasure of hearing an inspiring speech by Admiral Michelle Howard, the first woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the Navy and the first African-American woman to achieve a 4 star ranking in the U.S. Armed Forces. Listening to the Admiral talk about her military experiences as well as her proud interest and commitment to our environment inspired the Office of Environmental Justice to begin exploring how other veterans, inside EPA, in other federal agencies, and in other sectors, are putting their love for the environment and for their communities into action.
What we found was that here at EPA, more than 1,500 of our colleagues are veterans or continue to serve as reservists in the U.S. armed forces. Starting in 2012, EPA developed a series of videos about some of our homegrown champions. These EPA sheroes and heroes share their love for the military, their love for the Agency and their love for the environment.
As daughters of veterans, we have seen first-hand the dedication and commitment of veterans who came home to make our world better for others. We’re also keenly aware of national environmental justice champions who served our country. Many of you may know the story of Hilton Kelley, who served in the Navy before serving his Port Arthur, Texas community. Dr. Robert Bullard, author of more than 18 books about environmental justice, served two years in the U.S. Marine Corps after college.
Kelly Carlisle, Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project
In addition to these leaders of the environmental justice movement, many new veterans are joining the fight for healthy environments in their neighborhoods by working in the non-profit sector. Take a look at Kelly Carlisle, a Navy Veteran, who founded Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project, a non-profit urban farm focusing on serving at-risk youth, who also plans to establish a farmers market with educational opportunities for involved youth in basic gardening and composting. To learn more about what Kelly is doing, please visit the Farmer Veteran website.
Former Army and National Guard Veteran Sonia Kendrick founded Feed Iowa First, a nonprofit with a mission of combatting food insecurity by raising food and farmers, and was honored earlier this year at the White House as one of 10 leaders who are White House Champions of Change—Women Veteran Leaders. The event highlighted the incredible contributions of women veterans to our nation’s business, public, and community sectors. Go here to find out more about Sonia and Feed Iowa First.
Sonia Jo Kendrick, Feed Iowa First
As a local Washington DC veteran, Joe Wynn, President of Veteran’s Enterprise Training and Services Group, recently remarked, “Veterans are people too!” The EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice wants to learn about the other veterans who “love the environment too!” and are working on social justice and environmental concerns in communities across the country. Please let us know who you are, which branch of the military service you served in, and what work you are doing to make a visible difference in environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed communities.
Please post in the comments section below because we want to hear from our homegrown sheroes and heroes. We thank you for your service abroad and here at home.
Victoria Robinson currently is the Acting Communications Director for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. Recently she served for five years as Designated Federal Office (DFO) of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She also works as the OEJ point of contact for climate change. She has been served EPA in the Office of Environmental Justice for more than 11 years.
Marva E. King, PhD, a U.S. Air Force veteran, recently rejoined the staff of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice where she had worked for over 10 years as a Senior Program Analyst in EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice managing the EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) Cooperative Agreement Program and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Previously she served as Program Co-Chair for the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Program. She also serves as a community expert on several EPA teams across the Agency. Dr. King holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in Public Policy at George Mason University.
Reprinted with permission from Environmental Justice in Action: Blogging About Efforts to Achieve Environmental Justice in Overburdened Communities, a blog from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.