William J. Barber III
The Climate Reality Project
William Barber III is a passionate voice for protect the environment and empowering Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities on the frontlines of this climate crisis. He facilitates collaboration between policymakers, grassroot leaders, faith leaders and corporations to find equitable climate solutions for all. Barber wears many hats, all of which are related to climate and energy justice advocacy for modest income communities and communities of color. He is founder and president for The Rural Beacon Initiative, LLC, which seeks to advance community ownership in a new clean energy economy. He is also co-chair for the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign Ecological Devastation committee. His motto: “True Climate Solutions Require Climate Justice.“
Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC's Environmental Justice Initiative
Chandra Taylor-Sawyer specializes in water quality and environmental justice issues for the Southern Environmental Law Center and serves on the board of the North Carolina Justice Center. This Kinston native has led work to force cleanups at contaminated industrial sites, stop water pollution threatening North Carolina communities and helped shape transit and landfill policies around the state. “We’re not afraid to take on polluting corporations and governments because everyone is entitled to a healthy environment. I consider it a privilege to do this important work of tying social justice to environmental protections,” said Taylor-Sawyer.
Sherri White Williamson
NCCN Environmental Justice Policy Director and EJ CAN Founder
After retiring from the U. S. EPA Office of Environmental Justice in 2015, White-Williamson wasn’t done fighting for environmental justice so she enrolled in Vermont Law School where she earned a law degree and a Masters in Energy Regulation and Law. After graduating in 2018, she returned to North Carolina and immediately put her degree experience to work. She joined the North Carolina Conservation Network (NCCN) to work on incorporating environmental justice concerns in its policy and outreach efforts. She later co-founded the Environmental Justice Community Action Network (EJCAN) to work with community members to identify and resolve the many issues around water quality, landfill, industrial hog and poultry farms and the biogas pipeline.
NCEJN Organizer and Activist
From hog lagoons to sewage sludge to wood pellet plants, Naeema Muhammad has been at the forefront of these and other environmental injustices on behalf of low-income communities of color in Eastern North Carolina. She spent two decades at the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) as an organizer and co-director leading state-wide efforts and supporting grassroots efforts for environmental and social justice. More than 40 years ago, Muhammed co-founded Black Workers for Justice in N.C., a community-based workers rights organization. When organizing, she never shies away from talking about the role racism and capitalism play.
Belinda Joyner Concerned Citizens of Northampton County
Belinda Joyner became an environmental activist because she felt Northampton County was a dumping ground for everything undesirable -- hog farms, landfills, pipelines and wood pellet factories. Joyner formed the Concerned Citizens of Northampton County to get lawmakers to consider the cumulative impact of these industries on the surrounding communities. She started by going door-to-door to convince community members to attend economic development meetings and make calls to environmental groups and lawmakers. The grassroots group recently successfully organized to stop a coal ash landfill from coming to the county.