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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Inside and Outside the Doors of Earthjustice
A Welcome Message
From Charles (Chas) J. Lopez Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion
“Achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do is inextricably linked to our mission to protect our planet and defend the rights of all people to a healthy environment.”

As a child growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, with multiple and intersecting social identities, none of which were part of the majority culture, I came to understand firsthand the significance of not only diversity, but also equity and inclusion. I am thankful for the struggles I endured and ultimately overcame because they made me more empathic to the struggles of others and instilled in me the value of perseverance.

I am honored and humbled to serve as the inaugural Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Earthjustice. My position here was made possible by the dedicated staff and leadership of Earthjustice who have paved the way for this important body of work to proceed.

The values and practices of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are critical to our organization’s success. At its core, we understand that DEI is about excellence in who we are and in what we do. From the talent we aim to attract and retain to the partners and clients we join forces with, achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do is inextricably linked to our mission to protect our planet and defend the rights of all people to a healthy environment.

As we move forward on our DEI efforts, we must also be mindful of the uneven history of diversity and inclusion within the environmental movement. Expert findings, including those of Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor from the University of Michigan and the Green 2.0 report, confirm that there is still much progress to be made in building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environmental movement. While we remain heartened by the advancements already made, we need to also be mindful and vigilant about the challenges that lie ahead.

In this section of the website you will see Earthjustice’s DEI mission statement, examples of the cases we are working with some of our diverse clients and partners, and an action plan that spells out concrete goals and steps we will be taking over the next year to ensure that we are living our core values of excellence, justice and partnership. Many of you are likely in the midst of your own journey towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. I hope that we can continue to learn from each other and see this movement really flourish.

Yes, it will require hard work;

Yes, we will face inevitable challenges;

Yes, it will require a sustained effort; and

Yes, together, we can do it.

  • Andrea Delgado, senior legislative representative for Earthjustice, consults with clean air ambassadors from across the country as they prepare to tell their stories to members of Congress in hopes of securing stronger clean air protections.
    Matt Roth for Earthjustice
    Andrea Delgado, senior legislative representative for Earthjustice, consults with Clean Air Ambassadors from across the country as they prepare to tell their stories to members of Congress in hopes of securing stronger clean air protections. Promoting diversity both within and beyond Earthjustice—in our staff and in the clients and partners we work with—is critical to our success.
  • Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. (left) of the Hip Hop Caucus speaks with Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen at the 2013 '50 States United for Healthy Air' event in Washington, D.C.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. (left) of the Hip Hop Caucus speaks with Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen at the 2013 50 States United for Healthy Air event in Washington, D.C. “While my mother and father fought to drink from the same water fountain, I am now fighting for clean water and clean air,” says Rev. Yearwood, whose group works with Earthjustice and other partners to expand the environmental movement beyond the traditional base of supporters.
  • Chrisangel plays in the shadows of a refinery in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas.
    Eric Kayne for Earthjustice
    Chrisangel, then-3-years-old, plays in the shadows of a refinery in the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas. Polluting facilities are often situated in low-income communities and communities of color, disproportionately impacting the health of residents. Working with environmental justice partners to tackle these systemic inequities is one of Earthjustice’s ongoing priorities.
  • Tulalip tribal member Patti Gobin hugs her brother, Glen Gobin, after testifying against plans to build a tar sands oil pipeline that would threaten the Salish Sea and her tribe’s way of life.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Tulalip tribal member Patti Gobin hugs her brother, Glen Gobin, after testifying against plans to build a tar sands oil pipeline that would threaten the Salish Sea and her tribe’s way of life. “We are bound to this land. We are bound to the water. It is who we are,” says Glen. Earthjustice is representing U.S. tribes in proceedings before the Canadian National Energy Board, which will make a recommendation to the Canadian government on the future of the pipeline proposal.
  • Larry Gibson, activist and lifelong West Virginia resident, looks out over the devastated landscape of Kayford Mountain, which is adjacent to his home and where mountaintop removal coal mining has destroyed much of the celebrated scenery.
    Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
    Larry Gibson, activist and lifelong West Virginia resident, looks out over the devastated landscape of Kayford Mountain, which is adjacent to his home and where mountaintop removal coal mining has destroyed much of the celebrated scenery. Earthjustice actively works in court and on Capitol Hill to prevent mountaintop removal mining from harming rural communities.
  • Maria Aguilera, a farmworker, and her son stand in a strawberry field in California.
    Dave Getzschman for Earthjustice
    Maria Aguilera, a farmworker, and her son stand in a strawberry field in California. Due to weak federal protections, farmworkers and their families are among the most at-risk from pesticide poisoning. Earthjustice is working with farmworker rights groups and unions to ensure that all people are treated equally under the law.
Diversity Mission Statement

As our name indicates, we are driven by a passion for justice—for people and for the environment, by a belief that we can accomplish more in genuine partnership with others, and by a commitment to excellence and strategic action.

Our pursuit of diversity and inclusion recognizes that environmental burdens and benefits are not distributed equitably and we seek to address these historic and current disparities so that each of us can realize and enjoy a healthy, rich and inspiring world.

In order to more fully accomplish our mission and live our values, we strive to make our commitment to diversity and inclusion evident in our organizational structure, policies, board of directors, staff, donors, goals, and vision. We welcome people of all backgrounds and seek to foster a culture of respect, openness, learning, integrity, honesty—and a sense of fun.

Our passion for justice calls on us to be inclusive, transparent, and fair in all that we do. Our commitment to working in partnerships compels us to build relationships where all partners are valued, heard, respected, and empowered. Our drive for excellence leads us to learn from a broad range of perspectives and talents. Our desire for savvy and strategic approaches benefits from a multitude of cultural and life experiences and communities.

In short, we believe a commitment to enhance and steadily increase diversity and inclusion at Earthjustice flows directly from our core values and is essential to achieve our mission.

Our Work

Earthjustice is committed to expanding our work and partnerships with communities disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution and climate change. Despite our country’s pledge that all people are equal under the law, communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities have historically and currently shoulder the burden of environmental impacts. Representing these disproportionately impacted communities is a critical priority of our legal, advocacy, and communications efforts.

The stories below illustrate how Earthjustice—in partnership with the very communities that are impacted—uses the power of the law to defend the right of all people to a healthy environment:

Too Sacred To Drill
“Our cultural connection to this land is deeper than us just occupying it. It’s a vital connection to our identity.”
Kendall Edmo, Blackfeet Tribal Member
Edmo, with her two year old daughter, in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
Rebecca Drobis for Earthjustice

With Earthjustice’s help in the courts, the Blackfeet Nation is building a movement to safeguard one of our nation’s wildest and most sacred places in Montana.

Watching The Rails
“This is our life. It’s worth more than a tank of oil.”
Be Be White, Resident of Ezra Prentice Homes
White and his son Brayton stand along the fence that separates the railroad tracks from Ezra Prentice Homes.
Photo by Earthjustice

When polluters need a place to do their dirtiest and most dangerous work, they tend to locate their operations in places where they believe people have less power. One predominantly African-American community in Albany, New York, is proving them wrong.

Righting Civil Wrongs
“The EPA should be doing all it can to hold states accountable and protect residents from the health impacts of pollution.”
Pastor Ron Smith, Community Leader in Tallassee, Alabama
Smith at his home, near Tallassee, AL. His house, now adjacent to the Stone's Throw landfill, was built on the property that his family has owned since his great-grandfather's time.
Jeronimo Nisa for Earthjustice

After decades of unaddressed discrimination complaints, five communities of color are standing up to the EPA to tackle historical environmental injustices.

Harvesting Change
“We are forced to work in toxic fields, because the supervisors aren’t being supervised.”
Victorino, Farmworker in California
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy (right) is thanked by Ana Alicia Torres Aguirre, a farmworker and worker safety trainer from Arizona, for listening to the farmworkers' experiences.
Dave Getzschman for Earthjustice

Farmworkers and advocates journeyed to Washington to advocate for stronger protections against pesticide exposure. The new worker protections they secured are a powerful testimony to their efforts.

The Action Plan
The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan.

In 2016, Earthjustice created a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan that lays out our internal and external organizational goals for the year. Included in the plan are tangible objectives and metrics for accountability that will keep us committed to our vision.

The goals reflect the work we believe is essential to do on DEI, both inside and outside the doors of Earthjustice. Inside, we will continue our work to recruit and retain multi-culturally sophisticated employees and to build a stronger culture of inclusion. Outside our doors, we will work to diversify our clients, partners, donors and supporters to ensure that we are serving all communities impacted by environmental issues.

Our Values

Earthjustice is driven by a passion for justice, partnership and excellence. Our core values lead us to seek a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds to achieve our mission and to maintain an inclusive environment where all staff are valued and respected.

As an equal opportunity employer, we are committed to employment practices that ensure that employees and applicants for employment are provided with equal opportunities without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information or any other factor that is not related to the position.

About Earthjustice

Founded in 1971, Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We take on the biggest, most precedent-setting cases across the country. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change. We partner with thousands of groups, supporters and citizens to engage the critical environmental issues of our time, and bring about positive change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.