Former Environmental Justice Leaders

Martha Armas-Kelly

Martha Armas-Kelly was born in the Central Valley to immigrant parents of Guatemalan and Mexican descent. Currently working in Stanislaus County on environmental issues centered around SB 1000. Martha has a strong background in capacity building and leadership and grassroots efforts in health, social and economic development. Currently serving as a Chair for the Stanislaus Sustainable Communities Coalition, Treasurer for Community Initiatives for Community Impact, Facilitator for ACE Overcomers, a model for resilience against childhood trauma, and Advocate for the United Tribes of California. Martha resides in Merced, CA on MiWuk and Yokuts lands.

Iesha Baldwin

Iesha Baldwin is a global goal developer and a PIN Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics Fellow for Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute and Freudenberg-NOK, a global manufacturer. She is passionate about creating stronger rural workforces through education and training programs for manufacturers and schools.

Agustín Bernabe

Agustín Angel Bernabe is one of the co-founders of Leaders4EARTH, and was born in Guerrero, Mexico. He is a first-generation graduate from San Francisco State University with a B.S in Health Education and double minor in Holistic Health and Community Health. He has experience working in the public health sector, community health, environmental health/justice, youth leadership and community engagement.

Agustín is a dedicated community organizer and youth educator whose primary work began and continues to work alongside with Salinas Valley (Monterey County), and Bayview Hunters Point (San Francisco) youth and residents. He’s served as a mentor for rising environmental and social justice leaders from these regions, where he’s cultivated relationships with rising advocates and partners from non-profit organizations, government officials, local activists, global activists, community residents, and health professionals. He seeks new opportunities to be of service to his local, state, and global community as an agent of positive societal change and environmental health activist.

Vivian Breckenridge

Vivian lives in Oakland and sees her life’s work as building a future where communities of color are healthy, green, resource-rich and overflowing with opportunity. She currently works as an Environmental Justice consultant devoting her skills and passion to supporting community organizers fighting for justice and organizations who want to center justice. Previously she has supported grassroots justice working for indigenous nonprofits, youth programs, a climate justice documentary, and GAIA – global zero waste and environmental justice alliance.

Vivian received her Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment and her BA in International Relations and Environmental Studies from the University of Southern California.

Katia Carranza

Katia Pilar Carranza is a sustainability organizer and researcher focused on improving the reciprocal interconnections between people and nature while increasing equity for underserved and Indigenous people. Sustainability became her passion fifteen years ago when she learned that climate change is threatening the health of our people and environment. Since then, Katia became impassioned  to take action, and she has directed transdisciplinary initiatives focused on advancing the environmental and social vision of her communities. As she worked to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Ecology, she organized campus diversity trainings, created a community-driven sustainability club, and established a reusable container program at her college. After graduating, Katia has advanced equity and sustainability through her career and community organizing. She created an equitable engagement plan for the climate department in San Diego, and she developed recommendations for NRDC focused on advancing equitable sustainability in federal environmental programs. She also mobilized her underserved communities to transition a coal plant polluting her hometown, and she organized immigrant people to advocate for their rights. Last year, she founded the Together for Nature nonprofit in her hometown that is working on connecting underserved people and youth to nature and sustainability leadership. Katia is now pursuing a Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences because she wants to better prepare for advancing the vision of her communities in sustainability planning. She is currently collaborating with Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance in conducting research that supports the socioecological resilience of Indigenous people, and she is serving a grasslands Indigenous Working Group in compiling their priorities into strategy and implementing equitable engagement across North America. Katia is committed to  continue collaborating with her underserved, migrant, and Indigenous communities to advance their vision for equitable sustainability that heals our social and environmental relationships.

Alec Castellano

Alec works as the Coordinator for the only Environmental Justice program under Catholic Charities USA. Operating out of the Diocese of Stockton, Catholic Charities’ Environmental Justice Program has supported underserved communities through education and advocacy since 2005. Alec works with a wide range of community leaders and organizations that are dedicated to reversing the impacts of climate change as it harms local residents at the frontline of pollution burdens. In support of the groundbreaking encyclical, “Laudato Si'”, written by Pope Francis in 2015, Alec’s work revolves around caring for creation and our common home which he believes has been plundered for profit at the expense of BIPOC communities. As a lifelong social justice advocate, Alec hopes to bring his passion for justice to new spaces throughout the duration of the 2023 UC Davis Environmental Justice cohort.

Adaora Ifebigh

Adaora Ifebigh is Director of Impact at Sol System and leads efforts to execute Sol’s comprehensive Impact and Infrastructure strategy. Ms. Ifebigh has over 15 years of program management and leadership experience across the energy sector with specific experience in energy access and community impact work in rural cooperative territory.

As Program Director for Energy Access at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), she started and led the Advancing Energy Access for All initiative that spotlights cooperatives’ involvement in facilitating healthy communities, explores the innovative ways they do it, and uncovers new directions community assistance programs are taking. The initiative created a sustainable practice around supporting cooperatives as they holistically serve their members, especially low- and moderate-income households and to ensure that rural communities are not left behind in the transition to clean energy. At the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-e), she led a program portfolio of more than 23 energy research and development awards worth $77M with awardees across the education, corporate and non-profit sectors.

Ms. Ifebigh holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the George Mason University in Virginia and a Master of Business Administration from Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

Maya Iñigo-Anderson

Maya Iñigo-Anderson is a community organizer and Social Worker with an interest in environmental justice and air quality. Maya is a fellow at Communities for a Better Environment, working on oil drilling, lead exposure and port pollution issues. Maya has a background in labor organizing, mental health services and leadership development in low-income communities. Maya was a Lead Organizer on the LAX Corridor Living Wage campaign and provided campaign support for the Clean Trucks Campaign which resulted in the Port of Los Angeles’ Clean Trucks Program.

Angela Islas

Angela Islas is a Community Development Specialist with Self-Help Enterprises. Angela has worked extensively on various Environmental Justice efforts across the San Joaquin Valley Region which includes air quality advocacy, energy justice work, groundwater and regional water advocacy, and transportation advocacy. Her work evolved from bringing free asthma prevention services to low-income families in two San Joaquin Valley counties to now working alongside with rural community residents to build their capacities in participating in groundwater policy efforts to elevate the Human Right to Water across beneficial users that are 100% dependent on groundwater as their drinking water resource.

Although Angela’s main focus has been currently water advocacy, she has a strong passion for continuing her involvement in energy justice work, which she actively participates as a founding member of the Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group (DACAG) under the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). This group was formed under Senate Bill 350 (the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015) to review CEC and CPUC clean energy programs, policies; and ensure that disadvantaged communities, including tribal and rural communities, benefit from proposed clean energy and pollution reduction programs. Furthermore, Angela’s passion to give back to her home region remains a priority to bring the possibilities of having the San Joaquin Valley thrive through these new technology innovations and every community have the quality of life they deserve.

Atenas Mena

Atenas Isabel Mena was born and raised in Kansas City and is a proud first generation Mexican American. Ms. Mena received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Avila University in 2014 and went on to receive her Master’s in Nursing Leadership from Missouri Western State University in 2019. In addition to working as a nurse, Ms. Mena received extensive environmental health training in the field, working with the Children’s Mercy environmental health team, as both an educator and a team coordinator. She was part of the first cohort of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments to support local environmental justice work. Ms. Mena worked continuously throughout the last few years with CleanAirNow through boots on the ground projects, served as a Board of Directors, and in the start of 2022, transitioned into the current leadership role as Environmental Health Director and Co-Executive Director for CleanAirNow. She centers her work in addressing health inequities, supporting sustainable community-led research/projects/decision-making, and advocating for the equal right and protection of clean air, water and land for all to live in healthy neighborhoods.

Athena Motavvef

Athena Motavvef is a Legislative Representative on the Policy and Legislation team at Earthjustice. Based out of the Washington, D.C. office, she is a federal advocate working to electrify our transportation system to solve our air pollution problems and protect our climate. Prior to joining Earthjustice, Athena served as the Communications Coordinator for WE ACT for Environmental Justice. Athena received a Bachelor of Arts, Public Policy from the University of California, Riverside; and a Masters of Science, Public Policy and Management – DC Track from Carnegie Mellon University.

Shane Paul

Shane Paul first became interested in environmental justice through his involvement with mobility justice. He is the Director of Technology and Research for Shared Mobility Inc., a member of Buffalo’s Bicycle Pedestrian Board, and co-founder of Buffalo’s first bicycle courier service. In his spare time, he is an avid member of the local cycling community organizing and participating in grouprides and events.

Bertha Rodriguez

Bertha Rodriguez (she/her/ella) is an Organizer at Climate Action Campaign, her focus is organizing the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance. The coalition is dedicated to achieving a zero carbon San Diego region by 2035 in a way that creates good union jobs and more just communities.

Bertha graduated from San Diego State University with a Masters in Women’s Studies and an Advanced Certificate in LGBTQ+ Studies. Prior to her work at Climate Action Campaign, she was a Lecturer at San Diego State University’s Women’s Studies Department and a Youth Coordinator at Casa Familiar in San Ysidro.

Ruth Rosas

Ruth Rosas works at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital at the intersection of public health and urban planning, focusing on communities whose health is adversely affected by the built environment. They are also a journalist for a daily news source called Streetsblog Chicago, writing on transportation issues in Latine communities. Ruth has an extensive background in community development, coalition building, and sustainable transportation systems. Ruth advocates inclusive, equitable, and just public engagement to inform public policies and is currently exploring climate change adaptation in the transportation sector.

Diamond Spratling

Diamond Spratling, MPH (she/her) is an award-winning environmental justice activist, storyteller, and public speaker. In 2019, she founded Girl + Environment, the non-profit organization designed to educate, engage, and empower Black and Brown girls, women, and non-binary folx to stand up for environmental justice in their own neighborhoods. Diamond’s leadership in environmental justice and beyond is driven by her own lived experiences in Detroit as well as the motivation to dismantle health, racial, and environmental inequities in other Black and Brown communities alike.

The Detroit native and two-time TEDx speaker has spent years at the intersection of environment and health. Her strong dedication to the sector has earned her the William H. Sterner Memorial Award (2017), the Elmore Manufacturing Award (2018) and the Yale New Horizons in Conservation Award (2021, 2022).

In addition to her work at Girl + Environment, she has helped many cities, companies, and organizations globally to adopt meaningful, equitable processes that prioritize community and protect our planet. Namely, Diamond has supported projects at Bloomberg Associates, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of Atlanta, Climate Advocacy Lab, Greenlink Analytics, International Society for Urban Health, among others.

Zoe Temple

Zoë Temple (she/her/ella) is an Environmental Science teacher near Downtown Los Angeles working directly with high school seniors from frontline communities across the city. In her role as an educator and as a Programs Advisor for Youth on Root, Zoe designs and delivers relevant, engaging, and justice-oriented curriculum focused on empowering young people to be environmental changemakers in their communities. Youth on Root’s mission is to provide low-income youth and youth of color across California with tools and opportunities for learning to promote environmental justice. Zoe is passionate about building inclusive spaces to redistribute power to marginalized communities through citizen science, youth empowerment, and community-based research.

Ciara Thrower

Ciara Thrower is an Advocacy and Outreach Associate at Breathe Southern California, a non-profit organization focused on improving air quality and fighting lung disease in the region. Born and raised in Southern California, Ciara graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies, and is passionate about engaging with communities to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote sustainable solutions. Her expertise in policy analysis helps to inform the development of effective advocacy campaigns and initiatives. When she’s not working, and sometimes while she is, Ciara can be found watching 2-hour YouTube video essays on the most unique topics.

Christian Torres

Christian Torres is a Special Projects Manager at Comite Civico del Valle. Christian has worked extensively in environmental justice efforts across the Imperial Valley region. Recently, he has served on the leadership team for the Calexico, El Centro, and Heber AB 617 communities, is a member of the People’s Blueprint Writing Group, and provides technical assistance to Community Air Grant recipients implementing air quality monitoring at the community level.

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