» » The Dana Alston Health and Environmental Resources Track

The Dana Alston Health and Environmental Resources Track

This track will focus on environmental and public health issues, in the larger context of other social and economic issues vital to community development. This track will explore the challenges, barriers, and impacts that communities face and address how communities can build capacity to learn from these lessons and best practices to better understand and solve this problem.
Speakers will represent a variety of perspectives and experiences including from environmental justice groups and other non-governmental organizations, EPA and other federal agencies, as well as academics, business and philanthropic organizations.

Tuesday, October 25

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10:30 am - 11:30 am

Models of Community Engagement

Non-profits, universities, government agencies, and other groups use different community engagement approaches to address local environmental justice and health issues. Through community-driven research, community groups utilize their grassroots activism and resources, “expert local knowledge”, and partnerships to build community capacity, improve environmental health, and revitalize overburdened and underserved neighborhoods. In this session, panelists will share stories, challenges, and lessons learned from their efforts to use partnerships and community-driven research to address environmental injustice and health disparities across the country.

Moderator: Vernice Miller-Travis (Skeo)

Speakers: Omega Wilson (West End Revitalization Association), Kamita Gray (BTB Coalition), Rep. Harold Mitchell (ReGenesis), Parisa Norouzi (Empower DC, Invited)



11:30 am - 12:30 pm

The Role of Community Colleges

The community college is often overlooked as a viable option for training and education. However, those engaged in the mission to provide education for all commit to do this through an open access admission policy and comprehensive programs with a community-based approach to teaching and lifelong learning. This session will highlight how the community college engages the internal and external community to provide education, services and training. The conversation will include how to incorporate social justice and environmental consciousness in the process.


Moderator: Dr. Scheherazade W. Forman (Prince George's Community College)
Speakers: Dr. Rosa Smith, Alicia Jackson-Warren, Danette Johnson, Brian Hamlin, Dr. David Buonora, Monique Burton-student (all affiliated with Prince George's Community College)



2:30 pm - 3:45 pm

Climate Change  ◙ Live Streaming

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Climate change has and will continue to produce an increasing burden on vulnerable populations including children, the elderly, low-income communities of color, and tribes. Beyond an increased burden, climate change impacts will continue to result in the need for a strong, coordinated, and intentional disaster response and ultimate recovery for communities affected by climate-related disasters.


Moderator: Dr. Adrienne Hollis, Esq. (WE ACT for Environmental Justice)

Speakers: Sarah Dresher (Forest Co. Potawaotmi), Dr. Mildred McClain (Harambee House), Sara Pennington (Kentuckians for the Commonwealth), and Dr. Yomi (Eco Action - Hercules Program)



3:45 pm - 5:30 pm

Engaging Youth in Community Problem Solving  ◙  Live Streaming

There is a need for a diversified young green leadership and relevant best practices for our most vulnerable communities. The benefits of active and strategic community engagement can be explored through the use of project based learning as youth investigate and respond to questions to solve problems. This session will address the essential question, “what’s in it for me and my community?” through presentations on community-based learning. This session will conclude with a moderated discussion with the audience.


Moderator: Jerome Shabazz (JASTECH Development Services, Inc)

Speakers: Robert Noblett (Water Quality), Danielle Collins (Environmental Fashion), Ally Philyaw (Water Quality), Johnathan Cohen (Water Quality)

Wednesday, October 26

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9:30 am - 10:30 am

Citizen Science and Community Monitoring – New Tools for Environmental Justice

Exciting developments in inexpensive pollution sensors, apps and data visualization can empower communities to conduct their own environmental monitoring. This session will provide an overview of these trends using examples from different communities working on different issues. The goal is to engage the audience in learning about what is possible; discuss how more communities can get involved; and, hear ideas about what kinds of community monitoring are most valuable.


Moderators: Jay Benforado (EPA/ORD) and Shannon Dosemagen (Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science)

Speakers: Omar Muhammad (Low Country Alliance for Model Communities), Omega Wilson (West End Revitalization Association), Dr. Mildred McClain (Harambee House), Craig Kreman (Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma)


10:30 am - 11:30 am

Disaster Recovery

This panel will highlight efforts by communities to prepare for and strengthen their ability to respond to and recover from future disaster impacts with minimum damage to social well-being, the economy, and the environment. Their presentations will be followed by an interactive discussion with the audience to explore opportunities and resources for communities to prepare and respond to disasters


Moderator: Matt Campbell (FEMA)

Speakers: Dr. Beverly Wright (Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dillard University), Monique Harden, Esq. (Advocates for Environmental Human Rights)


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11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Increasing Environmental Health Literacy Through Improved Access to Data

Environmental Health Literacy (EHL) is an emerging and evolving concept that shares theories, methods, and practices from a variety of fields including public health, health literacy, and risk communication. EHL is an important way to ‘inpower’ residents that live in communities impacted by environmental injustice. In this session, panelists will discuss different approaches that they have used to improve environmental health literacy in the communities they work in, how these efforts have inpowered these stakeholders, impacts, lessons learned, and best practices.


Moderator: Dr. Sacoby Wilson (University of Maryland-College Park School of Public Health)

Speakers: Ramon Palencia-Calvo (Chispa Maryland), Maria Payans (SRAP), Walkiria Pool (Centro de Apoyo)


12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Engaging Grants and Other Resources for Communities

This session will provide an overview of financial resources available to
vulnerable communities and their partners.


Audience will learn about federal and technical resources, loan opportunities, contracts, foundational grants, and fellowships from the government, philanthropic, and the private sector. An engaging question and answer dialogue with the audience is anticipated.


Moderator: Jacob Burney (EPA/OEJ)

Speakers: Patricia Glass (HHS), Beth Toner (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), Hannah Kett (Duwamish CleanUP), and Rae Tamblyn (National Association for State Communities Service Association)





Dana Alston (1951 – 1999)

Dana Alston died on Aug. 7, 1999, from complications from kidney disease and the consequences of a stroke. Though she was only 47 years old, Dana was a major figure in the social and environmental justice arenas, and in philanthropy
Dana served as one of the key planning committee members for the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit held in October of 1991. In 1990, she co-authored the seminal report, We Speak for Ourselves, which articulated one of the key concepts of the environmental justice movement - that those most impacted by environmental threats are most capable of speaking for themselves - to tell their own stories and share their vision for community restoration and racial and economic justice.


Dana’s legacy lives on with her only son Khalil Everett Grenier Alston-Cobb, and in the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program (www.AlstonBannerman.org)