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Catherine Coleman Flowers          

Climate Justice Activist; Founding Director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice

Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), which seeks the implementation of best practices to address the reduction of health and economic disparities in marginalized rural communities by improving access to clean air, water, and soil. By influencing policy, inspiring innovation, catalyzing relevant research, and amplifying the voices of community leaders, Flowers' work is done within the context of climate change and through the lens of environmental justice.

In 2021, Flowers' leadership and fervor in fighting for solutions to these issues led her to one of her most notable appointments yet: Vice Chair of the Biden Administration’s inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship — commonly referred to as the “Genius Grant” — in 2020, and was named by both Time and Forbes magazines to their "100 Most Influential People" and "50 Over 50" lists, respectively, in 2023.

As an environmental justice activist, much of Flowers' work has focused on improving sanitation and water infrastructure in Black, Indigenous, Latinx and low-income rural communities, and galvanizing policy and research to redress failing infrastructure that perpetuates socioeconomic disparities. Her testimony to Congress led to the introduction of legislation in 2019 to address neglected diseases of poverty in the United States. Her journey is chronicled in her book entitled "Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret."

In addition to leading CREE, Flowers sits on the Board of Directors for the Climate Reality Project, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Geophysical Union, as well as serving as a Practitioner in Residence position at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

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