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:
Meet Our Staff Members
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Don Cavellini – Board Chair
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.
Legal Aid of NC
Peter graduated from Yale University in 2003. He has been active in labor, anti-war, and environmental justice since childhood. He was a union organizer for the UFCW campaign to win unions at Smithfield from 2005-06. Peter graduated from UNC School of Law in 2009 with high honors. During law school, Peter twice co-chaired the annual Conference on Race, Class, Gender and Ethnicity. Upon graduation, Peter served as law clerk to the Honorable Judge William Osteen, Jr. in the Middle District of North Carolina. He worked for 4 years as a legal fellow at the UNC Center for Civil Rights with a focus on school desegregation, excluded communities, and environmental racism. Peter authored “The State of Exclusion,” a report on the legacy of housing segregation on political power, school districts, and environmental racism across North Carolina. Currently, he works for Legal Aid of NC in Durham with a focus on housing and eviction defense. He is also a participant in the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute.
Ms. Herring, a native North Carolinian, lives in Duplin County, home to more than 2,000 swine CAFOs and a rapidly growing concentration of industrial poultry operations – the highest concentration of CAFOs in the nation. She lives on land that has been in her family for more than 100 years, now desecrated by sprayed hog waste, buzzards, flies and horrible odors from the industrial swine operations that moved in next door in the 1990s. She attended New York University and worked for Dunn & Bradstreet and ABM AMRO Bank for 27 years before returning to NC to become a caregiver for her 90 year old mother and 46 year old brother with Down’s Syndrome. When confronted with the CAFO impacts on her family and neighbors, she joined NCEJN as a community organizer to fight those injustices. Elsie was presented with the Florenza Moore Grant Environmental Justice Award in 2009. In May 2016, Elsie launched a change.org petition, signed by more that 92,000 supporters from across the country, calling on the EPA to make its first ever finding of racial and ethnic discrimination against NC’s environmental regulatory agency, for its blatant refusal to protect the African American, Latino and Native American communities that disproportionately bear the harmful impacts from CAFOs.
Dr. Danielle Purifoy
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.
Nicholas Woodard, Jr.
Dr. Courtney Woods
Organizations in Our Network
NC Climate Justice Collective
Down East Coal Ash Coalition