The New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (the Alliance) was founded in 2001 by a broad-based group of community, (traditional) environmental, faith, labor, academic, and civil rights organizations and individuals concerned about the increasing siting of toxic and hazardous facilities in communities of color and low-income communities. Many of these communities (also called “EJ communities”) were already burdened with large concentrations of pollution and the adverse health, economic, educational, and overall quality of life impacts associated with pollution.
Over the years, the Alliance has been involved in efforts to prevent and reduce pollution, especially in EJ communities. The Alliance has provided technical and organizing assistance to many communities around the state, at their request, when they have engaged in battles to stop pollution. The organization has created public policy initiatives; supported beneficial legislation on the state and federal levels; provided testimony at state and national public hearings on environmental proposals; provided educational awareness about environmental justice through articles, essays, studies, and presentations; and has helped raise public awareness and involvement about the issue.
Three major campaigns currently sponsored by the Alliance include the campaign with the Coalition for Healthy Ports, for “Good Jobs, Healthy Neighborhoods, & a Clean Environment,” lobbying for passage of an environment and health ordinance to address cumulative impacts in the City of Newark, and hosting regional Climate Justice Roundtables throughout the state.
Largely thanks to the efforts of the Alliance and its organizational partners, there is now a New Jersey Environmental Justice Movement that continues to take action to ensure that all New Jersey residents, regardless of their race, color, ethnicity, religion, or economic status, are able to live, work, play, worship, and attend school in clean, safe, healthy, sustainable environments.
Staff & Leadership Bios
Laureen Boles, Director, NJEJA. Member of the EPA National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology, the National Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change. Presented comments at the White House on President Obama’s Climate Change Plan with respect to clean energy and environmental justice (2014). Taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Cheyney University. Consulted with the American Institute of Architects on neighborhood plans for New Orleans, LA and Augusta, GA. Bachelors, Civil Engineering, Howard University. Masters, City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania. Research Associate, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware.
Nicole Scott-Harris, Organizer, NJEJA. Executive Committee Member of League of Women Voters – NJ’s Young People’s Network, Coordinator for 2013 Coalition of Healthy Ports’ Newark Mayoral Forum, on “Good Jobs, Healthy Neighborhoods, and a Clean Environment”. AFSCME Political and Legislative Advocacy Coordinator in NYC with District Council 1707, Congressional Aide to former NJ Representative Steve Rothman (9th Congressional District), Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics Alumni Fellow, Rutgers Environmental Steward. Bachelors in Sociology and African American Studies, Rutgers University. Masters in Political Science, Rutgers University.
Dr. Nicky Sheats, Esq., Founder of NJEJA and CHP Steering Committee. Member of EJ Leadership Forum on Climate Change; Director, Center for the Urban Environment at Thomas Edison State College. Primary organizer, EJ and Science Initiative and Northeast EJ Attorneys Group. Member, NJ Clean Air Council, USEPA’s National EJ Council and Clean Air Act Advisory Committee. Recipient of USEPA Region 2 Environmental Achievement Award. B.A. Economics, Princeton University; J.D. , Harvard Law School; MPP, Kennedy School, Harvard University; Ph.D., Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University.
Valorie Caffee, Co-convener/Founder of NJEJA. Environmental Justice and Diversity Consultant, Adjunct Faculty, Beyond Diversity Resource Center, Chair, NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s EJ Advisory Council, VP, Ewing Park-Brae Burn Civic Association, Board Member emerita GreenFaith and New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, Member, Ewing Township Sustainable Green Team. Co-chair, Gov-elect Corzine’s Environmental Policy Transition Team. Member/Workshop Designer & Facilitator, CARAT Team of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Board Member emerita, Clean Water Action, Former-Director of Organizing, NJ Work Environment Council, Former-VP, USW Local 1-149. Youth supervisor/mentor. Published in literary journals. Elementary education major, history minor Trenton State College.
Peter Montague, Ph.D., Journalist and Historian living in New Brunswick, N.J. He has co-authored two books on toxic heavy metals, and from 1986-2009 he published Rachel’s Environment & Health News, providing weekly “news and resources for environmental justice.” He is presently writing a book about the intersection of problems affecting the natural and social environments (global warming, changes in ocean biota, decline of forests, loss of topsoil, the depletion of important minerals) and their negative impacts on economic growth and job opportunities. He serves on the board of directors of the Science & Environmental Health Network (Ames, IA), and on the steering committee of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance.
Ana Isabel Baptista, PhD, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at The New School University. Member of the Coalition for Healthy Ports and the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance. Senior National Environmental Leadership Fellow. Prior to the New School, Ana was the Director of Environmental Justice and Planning Programs for the community based non-profit organization, Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC), where she oversaw a wide range of environmental justice, community development, planning and research projects. Ph.D. Urban Planning and Public Policy from Rutgers University where she completed her dissertation on state level environmental justice policy making across the US and was the 2013 Gustav Heningburg Civic Fellow.
Priscilla E. Hayes, Educator. Priscilla served the state of New Jersey as first, a civil rights attorney, and then an environmental attorney. During her post-legal career, she served as Recycling Coordinator for her town, and then became Director of the Solid Waste Resource Renewal Group, an initiative of 15 years at Rutgers University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. She is currently a school garden and sustainability educator in Princeton’s K-12 schools.