List of Presenters
Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife Department of the Interior
Environmental Justice Policy Manager, Environmental Defense Fund
Saachi Das Kuwayama is a graduate of University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability and Ford School of Public Policy. As a 2019 University of Michigan Environmental Fellow, she worked at a Virginia non-profit Organization - Appalachian Voices - to advance state level environmental justice and energy reform policy. Later, as a legislative intern at the House Committee on Natural Resources, she helped develop H.R. 5986, the Environmental Justice for All Act. Saachi currently works in the Policy & Lobbying department at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), where she coordinates the federal electoral program and helps develop LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard. Saachi is the proud daughter of Indian and Japanese immigrants, was born and raised in Chicago, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.
|Plenary 7: Just Transitions and Just SustainabilitiesWed 3/30 5:10pm EDT
|Video: Diversity Pathways and Emerging Young Professionals of Color in the Conservation SectorMon 4/19 1:00pm EDT
|Workshop 4: Policymaking and Political ActionMon 4/19 2:40pm EDT
National Water Projects Coordinator, Clean Water Action
Thea Louis serves as the National Water Projects Coordinator at Clean Water Action, a U.S. environmental advocacy organization. She has a background in Environmental Justice and Public Health, studying at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan, with a particular focus on the equity implications of climate change risk factors and how public policy can address those factors. Louis is motivated by integrative and holistic diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice plans that create space for sustainable environmental futures. Louis has experience in and enjoys community organizing, creating dialogues, and using data tools and software to advocate for just societies.
Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Office of the White House
Brenda Mallory is the 12th Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). She is the first African American to serve in this position. As Chair, she advises the President on environmental and natural resources policies that improve, preserve, and protect public health and the environment for America’s communities. She is focused particularly on addressing the environmental justice and climate change challenges the nation faces while advancing opportunities for job growth and economic development. Chair Mallory has decades of experience in both the private and public sector, including spending nearly 20 years at the Environmental Protection Agency and CEQ, serving in a number of senior roles. In Chair Mallory’s first stint at CEQ as the General Counsel, she helped shape many of President Obama’s signature environmental and natural resource policy successes. Now having returned to CEQ, Chair Mallory is looking to reinvigorate CEQ’s important environmental policy role to advance President Biden’s ambitious climate and environmental justice agenda. Chair Mallory was the first in her family to attend college, graduating from Yale College with a double major in history and sociology and then from Columbia Law School as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. She and her husband Mark live in Rockville, MD. They have three adult children. The family enjoys visiting the parks and other natural treasures that reflect the environmental values she has worked to protect.
Assistant Professor Florida International University
Dr. Malone’s primary research focus is to improve our understanding of how climate and disturbance regimes influence spatial and temporal variability in ecosystem structure and function. Using remote sensing, eddy covariance, and spatial and temporal models she explores questions related to ecosystem condition, sustainability, and vulnerability to climate extremes.
Beth Rose Middleton Manning
Professor, University of California - Davis
DEI Student Coordinator, Yale University, School of the Environment
Founder and Executive Director - Threshold, Auricle Productions
Operations Director Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition
Ahmina Maxey is the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition's Operations Director. She is committed to ensuring that grassroots leadership and expertise are valued and strengthened as we work for transformative and systemic change. Ahmina has many years of experience in local and national non-profits, helping provide financial and capacity-building resources to communities of color combating environmental racism. Her work has supported environmental justice communities in Michigan, Maryland, California, Connecticut, and other states across the country. In Detroit, she’s organized for air pollution reduction with groups such as the East Michigan Environmental Action Council and Zero Waste Detroit, and nationally with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. In her role with the Transforming Power Fund, she mobilized resources for Detroit's community of organizers and worked to model the organization as a more equitable approach to philanthropy and grantmaking. She is a 2014 recipient of the Sierra Club's Bunyan Bryant Environmental Justice Award, 2017 Grist Emerging Green Leader, and 2019 recipient of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Advocate of the Year Award.
|Plenary 5: Diversity in the Environmental SectorWed 3/30 1:25pm EDT
|Video: Young, Gifted and Brown: The New Face of Conservation LeadershipTue 4/20 2:45pm EDT
Assistant Professor University of California - Irvine
Dr. Michael Méndez is an assistant professor of environmental policy and planning at the University of California, Irvine and Visiting Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He previously was the inaugural James and Mary Pinchot Faculty Fellow in Sustainability Studies and Associate Research Scientists at the Yale School of the Environment. Michael has more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors, where he consulted and actively engaged in the policymaking process. This included working for the California State Legislature as a senior consultant, lobbyist, a member of the California State Mining & Geology Board, and as vice chair of the Sacramento City Planning Commission. In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Dr. Mendez to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board regulates water quality in a region of 11 million people. Dr. Mendez holds three degrees in environmental planning and policy, including a PhD from UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning, and a graduate degree from MIT. His research on the intersection of climate change and communities of color has been featured in national publications including National Geographic, Los Angeles Times, Politico, NPR, Bloomberg News, USA Today; and Fox Latino News. His new award-winning book “Climate Change from the Streets,” published through Yale University Press (2020), is an urgent and timely story of the contentious politics of incorporating environmental justice into global climate change policy. The book was the winner of the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award, sponsored by the International Studies Association (ISA), and a finalist for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning’s John Friedmann Book Award. Dr. Méndez’s new research focuses on climate-induced disasters and social vulnerability. This research has been supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Faculty Award. In conjunction with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), this project explores the disparate impacts of extreme wildfire, heatwave, and drought events on undocumented Latina/o and Indigenous migrants.