Introducing the Environmental Justice Leaders
The Environmental Justice Leaders program brings leaders working in environmental justice into dialogue and collaboration with the UC Davis research community. Fellows conduct research that benefits the community they serve, utilizing the expertise and resources at UC Davis. They are also participating in seminars, visiting classes, and speaking to the research community. The program is a collaboration between FRI, the Institute for Transportation Studies, and the Energy Efficiency Institute.
This year's Leaders are visiting UC Davis on May 18 and 19. If you are interested in meeting them and learning more, please contact Sarah McCullough at email@example.com.
Iesha Baldwin is a global goal developer and a PIN Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics Fellow for Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute and Freudenberg-NOK, a global manufacturer. She is passionate about creating stronger rural workforces through education and training programs for manufacturers and schools.
Agustín Angel Bernabe is one of the co-founders of Leaders4EARTH, and was born in Guerrero, Mexico. He is a first-generation graduate from San Francisco State University with a B.S in Health Education and double minor in Holistic Health and Community Health. He has experience working in the public health sector, community health, environmental health/justice, youth leadership and community engagement.
Agustin is a dedicated community organizer and youth educator whose primary work began and continues to work alongside with Salinas Valley (Monterey County), and Bayview Hunters Point (San Francisco) youth and residents. He’s served as a mentor for rising environmental and social justice leaders from these regions, where he’s cultivated relationships with rising advocates and partners from non-profit organizations, government officials, local activists, global activists, community residents, and health professionals. He seeks new opportunities to be of service to his local, state, and global community as an agent of positive societal change and environmental health activist.
Katia Pilar Carranza is a sustainability organizer and researcher focused on improving the reciprocal interconnections between people and nature while increasing equity for underserved and Indigenous people. Sustainability became her passion fifteen years ago when she learned that climate change is threatening the health of our people and environment. Since then, Katia became impassioned to take action, and she has directed transdisciplinary initiatives focused on advancing the environmental and social vision of her communities. As she worked to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Ecology, she organized campus diversity trainings, created a community-driven sustainability club, and established a reusable container program at her college. After graduating, Katia has advanced equity and sustainability through her career and community organizing. She created an equitable engagement plan for the climate department in San Diego, and she developed recommendations for NRDC focused on advancing equitable sustainability in federal environmental programs. She also mobilized her underserved communities to transition a coal plant polluting her hometown, and she organized immigrant people to advocate for their rights. Last year, she founded the Together for Nature nonprofit in her hometown that is working on connecting underserved people and youth to nature and sustainability leadership. Katia is now pursuing a Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences because she wants to better prepare for advancing the vision of her communities in sustainability planning. She is currently collaborating with Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance in conducting research that supports the socioecological resilience of Indigenous people, and she is serving a grasslands Indigenous Working Group in compiling their priorities into strategy and implementing equitable engagement across North America. Katia is committed to continue collaborating with her underserved, migrant, and Indigenous communities to advance their vision for equitable sustainability that heals our social and environmental relationships.
Alec works as the Coordinator for the only Environmental Justice program under Catholic Charities USA. Operating out of the Diocese of Stockton, Catholic Charities’ Environmental Justice Program has supported underserved communities through education and advocacy since 2005. Alec works with a wide range of community leaders and organizations that are dedicated to reversing the impacts of climate change as it harms local residents at the frontline of pollution burdens. In support of the groundbreaking encyclical, “Laudato Si'”, written by Pope Francis in 2015, Alec’s work revolves around caring for creation and our common home which he believes has been plundered for profit at the expense of BIPOC communities. As a lifelong social justice advocate, Alec hopes to bring his passion for justice to new spaces throughout the duration of the 2023 UC Davis Environmental Justice cohort.
Atenas Isabel Mena was born and raised in Kansas City and is a proud first generation Mexican American. Ms. Mena received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Avila University in 2014 and went on to receive her Master’s in Nursing Leadership from Missouri Western State University in 2019. In addition to working as a nurse, Ms. Mena received extensive environmental health training in the field, working with the Children’s Mercy environmental health team, as both an educator and a team coordinator. She was part of the first cohort of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments to support local environmental justice work. Ms. Mena worked continuously throughout the last few years with CleanAirNow through boots on the ground projects, served as a Board of Directors, and in the start of 2022, transitioned into the current leadership role as Environmental Health Director and Co-Executive Director for CleanAirNow. She centers her work in addressing health inequities, supporting sustainable community-led research/projects/decision-making, and advocating for the equal right and protection of clean air, water and land for all to live in healthy neighborhoods.
Diamond Spratling, MPH (she/her) is an award-winning environmental justice activist, storyteller, and public speaker. In 2019, she founded Girl + Environment, the non-profit organization designed to educate, engage, and empower Black and Brown girls, women, and non-binary folx to stand up for environmental justice in their own neighborhoods. Diamond’s leadership in environmental justice and beyond is driven by her own lived experiences in Detroit as well as the motivation to dismantle health, racial, and environmental inequities in other Black and Brown communities alike.
The Detroit native and two-time TEDx speaker has spent years at the intersection of environment and health. Her strong dedication to the sector has earned her the William H. Sterner Memorial Award (2017), the Elmore Manufacturing Award (2018) and the Yale New Horizons in Conservation Award (2021, 2022).
In addition to her work at Girl + Environment, she has helped many cities, companies, and organizations globally to adopt meaningful, equitable processes that prioritize community and protect our planet. Namely, Diamond has supported projects at Bloomberg Associates, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of Atlanta, Climate Advocacy Lab, Greenlink Analytics, International Society for Urban Health, among others.
Zoë Temple (she/her/ella) is an Environmental Science teacher near Downtown Los Angeles working directly with high school seniors from frontline communities across the city. In her role as an educator and as a Programs Advisor for Youth on Root, Zoe designs and delivers relevant, engaging, and justice-oriented curriculum focused on empowering young people to be environmental changemakers in their communities. Youth on Root’s mission is to provide low-income youth and youth of color across California with tools and opportunities for learning to promote environmental justice. Zoe is passionate about building inclusive spaces to redistribute power to marginalized communities through citizen science, youth empowerment, and community-based research.
Ciara Thrower is an Advocacy and Outreach Associate at Breathe Southern California, a non-profit organization focused on improving air quality and fighting lung disease in the region. Born and raised in Southern California, Ciara graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies, and is passionate about engaging with communities to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote sustainable solutions. Her expertise in policy analysis helps to inform the development of effective advocacy campaigns and initiatives. When she’s not working, and sometimes while she is, Ciara can be found watching 2-hour YouTube video essays on the most unique topics.
Selika Josiah Talbott
Senior Fellow and Facilitator
An attorney by training Selika Josiah Talbott has spent much of her career in the area of transportation. She has been the Deputy Administrator of the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission and the Senior Advisor to the Administrator for USDOT’s FMCSA. For over 10 years she has been advocating and educating for the political economy of autonomous vehicles, new mobility and equity in transportation. As a transportation Executive she makes the case for best in class policy and business strategy. Her mantra is Transportation is Mobility and Mobility is Freedom.