Pig waste from an industrial hog farm polluting a nearby water source. These pollutants spread and are even sprayed into our communities, causing widespread environmental damage and public health problems which violate our civil rights.

The Problem

All individuals and groups of people should live in a safe and healthy environment. However, because of their race, ethnicity, and income, many North Carolinians have been subjected to living in unsafe environments. This is environmental injustice!

Environmental injustices exist because many businesses, government agencies, and other organizations in positions of power have discriminatory practices and policies. This is what it means when something becomes “institutionalized.”

Environmental injustices occur not only in our backyard, but also at the state, national, and international level. Thus, environmental injustice is everyone’s problem.

Read our full Principles of Environmental Justice here.

Our Mission, Vision, Values:

“To promote health and environmental equality for all people of North Carolina through community action for clean industry, safe workplaces and fair access to all human and natural resources. We seek to accomplish these goals through organizing, advocacy, research, and education based on principles of economic equity and democracy for all people.”

Meet Our Staff Members

Naeema Muhammad

Naeema Muhammad

Organizing Co-Director

Naeema has been Organizing Co-Director with NCEJN since 2013. She’s married to Saladin Muhammad and together they have 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. They have been married for 52 years and reside in Rocky Mount, NC.

Naeema has worked on two NIEHS funded grants. The first was Community Health and Environmental Reawakening (CHER) in which she served as a community organizer working with communities dealing with waste from industrial hog operations. In this position, she worked with the late Dr. Steve Wing, a founding member of NCEJN and Associate Professor at UNC Gillngs School of Public Health, and was supervised by Gary Grant, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens of Tillery. She has co-authored publications with Dr. Wing regarding community based participatory research (most recently in the New Solutions Health Journal). She also serves on the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary’s Environmental Justice & Equity Advisory Board.

Dedan Waciuri

Dedan Waciuri

Organizing Project Manager

Dedan Waciuri was born in Tyler, TX and raised in Goldsboro, NC. Dedan has been actively involved in the liberation struggle, which includes workers’ rights, police accountability, LGBTQ rights, & immigrant rights.

Dedan is involved in community organizations like Coalition Against Racism (C.A.R), Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ), Black Alliance For Peace (BAP) and he strongly believes “power concedes nothing without demand.”

He is married to Katrina Roberts and has two daughters Kenya and Nairobi.

Acacia Cadogan

Acacia Cadogan

Communications Fellow

Acacia Cadogan was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, though her family descends from the Caribbean Islands, St. Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago. Always having a keen interest in reading and writing, Acacia left her hometown to study Mass Communications at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC and obtained her degree in 2017. At the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement, she successfully orchestrated a campus effort to bring back the historic civil rights organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was actually originally founded at Shaw University. She was also a part of several other student-led organizations, including the Honors College, My Black is Beautiful-Women Empowerment, the Student Government Association, and the National Honor Society of Leadership & Success. While in school, Acacia also had the opportunity to partake in extensive internship programs with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, WSHA 88.9 FM, and WakeUP Wake County.

Elijah Brunson

Elijah Brunson

Co-Director of Organizational Development & Operations

Elijah “Teg” Brunson is a facilitator/organizer by heart who is committed to Collective Healing, Environmental Justice, the Just Transition Movement. He combines a B.S. in Psychology from Duke University, several years of case management experience and continues to serve his seventh year as a leadership team member for the North Carolina Climate Justice Collective. His approach is one of listening and deep observance utilizing inquiry to examine the contradictions between one’s behaviors and values, offering analogy as a means of clarification and redirection. He is a Kundalini Yogi, certified as a Level one Kundalini Yoga instructor. His most potent offerings are introspection, reflection, visioning, and safe space creation. He draws from Theatre of the Oppressed techniques cultivated by Augusto Boal as mechanisms for exploring the inner self and the outer self. When applied to an organizational context, his work allows for developing social agreements and priorities that match the essence of the collective. Ultimately, he believes that the pathway to the new world–one in right relationship with the planet– is born from right relationships with one another, and works to maintain a deep reverence for all life.

Għanja O'Flaherty

Għanja O'Flaherty

Operations Manager

Għanja O’Flaherty is passionate about the environment, especially water resources, and their equitable use and preservation. She holds an M.S is Environmental Sciences and Engineering from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC) and a B.Eng in Environmental Engineering from Carleton University. Hailing from St. Kitts-Nevis, Għanja’s small island upbringing comes to bear on her understanding that cookie-cutter solutions fit cookie-cutter problems of which there are not many. She values context and the co-design and co-production of solutions. Outside of work, Għanja is liable to be found in her garden or garage, working on her next project with her dog, Cosmo.

Board Members

Dr. Danielle Purifoy – Board Chair

UNC

Danielle is a lawyer and Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow in Geography at UNC Chapel Hill. She’s a graduate of Vassar College with a B.S. in English and Political Science, and a graduate of Harvard Law School. Her research focuses on the origins of environmental injustice in historic black towns in the US. She writes for multiple audiences, including lawyers, academics, policy advocates and the general public. She is an editor for Scalawag, a magazine devoted to Southern politics and culture. She is also co-creator of In Conditions of Fresh Water, a multimedia black spatial history project done in collaboration with visual artist Torkwase Dyson.

Don Cavellini 

Pitt County Coalition Against Racism

Don is a founding member of NCEJN and the Public Service Workers Union (UE Local 150). He is also the Co-Chair of the Coalition Against Racism in Pitt County, NC.

Ajamu Dillahunt Jr.

Masters/Phd candidate at University of Michigan

Ajamu Amiri Dillahunt is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of History at Michigan State University and an Assistant Editor with Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society. He is a member of Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ) and a board member with the Interreligious Foundation of Community Organizations (IFCO). He is also a former intern with the SNCC Digital Gateway Project at Duke University. In May of 2019, Ajamu graduated from North Carolina Central University with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science. 

Rosa Saavedra

Founder/Director of Compañeras Campesinas 

Organizations in Our Network

West End Revitalization Association
Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association

NC Climate Justice Collective

Down East Coal Ash Coalition

We are inviting communities to join our network and help fight for environmental justice.