Environmental Justice Event: TODAY
The political science department, Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement, sustainability committee, and environmental sciences program are proud to present an environmental event on campus, Oct. 15 from 5-8 p.m. We will host local environmental organizations that will set up informational tables in lower level Gallagher Center from 5-6 p.m. and a panel discussion for community and campus from 6-8 p.m. The purpose is to consider the legacies of environmental injustice in Niagara Falls and to determine strategies for empowering the community. Our panelists will reflect on how Niagara Falls residents were able to organize to respond to the toxic threats of the Love Canal community in the 1970s and 1980s, how hazardous conditions continue to threaten our local citizens, and how the lessons and strategies of Love Canal can be applied to today’s environmental dangers. Fr. Maher will offer introductory remarks on the Pope Francis’ Encyclical and its connection to local environmental efforts. Information on our panelists is provided below; a flyer for the event is attached.
The event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend. Our goal is to facilitate and motivate the campus and community to work together with local organizations to demand and ensure environmental justice. We envision a collaborative effort to raise environmental awareness and to enact positive change.
We hope you can join us.
Stephen Lester, science director, Center for Health and Environmental Justice (CHEJ). Stephen founded the CHEJ in 1981 with Lois Gibbs. The core of CHEJ’s mission is to prevent harm to human health by providing technical and organizing support to individuals and communities facing a toxic hazard. CHEJ’s Organizing and Information Services Program helps communities identify volunteer leaders, form organizations and networks, develop basic skills, and expand their community base. Guidance with this step-by-step process can be remarkably empowering in the fight for community safety. Today, CHEJ continues to harness the power of grassroots organizing to help communities protect their health from toxic hazards. On average, CHEJ receives about 1,500 requests for assistance each year. Over the past 32 years, CHEJ’s work has touched over 35,000 individuals and groups. Stephen received his first Master’s of Science, in toxicology, from Harvard University, and his second Master’s of Science, in environmental health, from New York University. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in biology from American University. Stephen has served on numerous scientific advisory and peer review committees including at the Natural Resource Council of the National Academy of Sciences, the National institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.
Rebecca Newberry, executive director, Clean Air Coalition (CAC). Rebecca has led a number of successful campaigns and programs to develop grassroots leadership and reduce toxic emissions in residential neighborhoods. She mobilized residents in Blackrock to improve disaster response after a toxic fire and organized residents in Tonawanda to suspend the operations of a crematory located in highly dense neighborhood. Rebecca coordinated the Lois Gibbs Fellowship and is a recognized expert in training communities how to access and understand EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. She designed the organization’s membership and donor database and coordinates the use of the Voter Activation Network (VAN) database with members and staff. She served as an administrative organizer with the Rochester Genesee Valley American Labor Federation, (AFL-CIO) where she spearheaded the formation of Next Generation United, a coalition of younger Labor who mobilize for social and economic justice. In 2012, Next Generation United was chosen by the AFL-CIO National Council as a model for young Labor groups across the country. From 2006-2009 Rebecca worked for the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley where she managed a program across 6 colleges and Universities to engage LGBTA students to actively reduce health disparities through public policy. A proud native of Buffalo NY, Rebecca holds a B.S in health science education from the State University College at Brockport and a M.S. in nonprofit management from Canisius College.
Luella Kenny, a former Love Canal resident-turned activist, serves on the board of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. Luella was a research scientist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and is a graduate of Niagara University. Her son, Jon Allen Kenny, the only of her three children born at Love Canal, died at age 7 in 1978 from kidney failure.
Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls Mayor
Dr. Dyster has been the mayor of Niagara Falls since 2008. He grew up in Niagara Falls, graduated from the University at Buffalo with a degree in political science and received his MA and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in international relations and law. He served as director of the graduate program in international affairs at The Pentagon, and assistant professor for the department of politics from 1985 to December 1993 at Catholic University of America. He is a Board Emeritus for the Buffalo-Niagara Riverkeepers and a spokesman for the Niagara River Environmental Coalition.