APRIL 21 | 1:00 p.m.

Environmental Justice was first enshrined in federal policy through President Clinton’s Executive Order 12898 in 1994, directing federal agencies to develop a strategy related to environmental justice and ensure agency actions didn’t have disproportionate adverse impacts on low-income communities and communities of color. Since then a number of new federal and state level policies and practices related to environmental justice have been put into place. However, there have been disparate outcomes for poor communities and communities of color with respect to the intersection of environmental and public heath burdens, particularly as they relate to climate change and COVID-19.

Given these contexts, this webinar will explore more recent and emerging areas of focus for environmental justice policy and practice in New York State and at the federal level, including recently enacted legislation and current policy proposals. Please join us on April 21st at 1 p.m.!

Lemir Teron
Assistant Professor
SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Lemir Teron has been on the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry (ESF) faculty in the Department of Environmental Studies since 2016. His research focuses on urban sustainability, climate change and legacy pollution, and energy justice. He has worked with a range of community and municipal groups in Central New York on environmental justice issues related to transportation planning and urban forestry. Teron received his PhD from the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering. In 2019, he was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Member for Teaching Excellence Award by the SUNY ESF Undergraduate Student Association.

Rahwa Ghirmatzion
Executive Director
PUSH Buffalo
Rahwa Ghirmatzion is the executive director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo, a community organization that works at the grassroots to create and implement a comprehensive revitalization plan for Buffalo, New York's west side. As executive director, Ghirmatzion oversees the organization's programs and day-to-day operations, which have grown to include housing construction, weatherization, solar installation, job training, and a youth center, as well as outreach and advocacy on public policy issues facing urban communities. 

Ghirmatzion was born in Asmera, Eritrea in the middle of a civil war. She came to Western New York as a refugee at the age of eight with her family, after living in Sudan. She was educated in Buffalo Public Schools and the University at Buffalo.

Nicky Hylton-Patterson
Executive Director
Adirondack Diversity Initiative
Nicky Hylton-Patterson is a Black queer activist scholar and community organizer who has spent the last 25 years working with marginalized and minoritized communities around the world to seek justice. In her current role as the inaugural director for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, she seeks to equip communities in the North Country with the tools, strategies, language, and voice needed to dismantle systemic racism and structural oppression.

Hylton-Patterson has extensive experience in the US foreign service. She has also served as a racial justice officer for the YWCA Elmira, human rights coordinator for the Chemung County Legislature, and an academic who has taught courses in critical race and Black feminist theories, queer of color critique, Pan African studies, and Africana philosophy. Hylton-Patterson received her doctoral degree in women & gender studies from the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University.

Sonal Jessel
Director of Policy
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
Sonal Jessel is the director of policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. She is responsible for advancing the organization’s policy agenda at the local, state, and national levels, in addition to leading We ACT's New York City policy initiatives and the Northern Manhattan Climate Action (NMCA) Plan. Prior to joining WE ACT, she conducted research in energy insecurity, housing, and public health at Columbia University, and coordinated clinical trials at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Jessel has an MPH in population and family health with a concentration in climate and health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and a BA in organismal biology from Pitzer College in California. Her interest is focused on the intersection of environmental and social justice, health, and policy.

Laura Rabinow
Deputy Director of Research
Rockefeller Institute of Government
Laura Rabinow is the deputy director of research for the Rockefeller Institute of Government, supporting the broad array of research conducted at the Institute and focusing her own research on environmental policy issues. Her prior work has moved between public policy research and practice. Most recently, she worked in the New York State Legislature in various roles, including as a chief of staff in the Assembly and as the environmental conservation, agriculture, and cultural affairs policy analyst in the Senate. Prior to her legislative experience, she worked in agricultural microfinance and foreign policy research. Rabinow’s more recent research considers New York State and federal policies with respect to drinking water and chemical contaminants, with a particular focus on the ways that public policy, social movements, and public health cultures co-construct the production of knowledge and ignorance about contaminants.
Please contact Alexander Morse at Alexander.Morse@rock.suny.edu if you
have any questions.