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In Memory: Joan Mulhern

Joan Mulhern: 1961-2012.

On December 18, 2012, Earthjustice lost its original Mountain Hero, senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern, who passed away after a long illness. Joan began her career in Vermont, where she made a name for herself as a tireless advocate for Vermonters' beloved environment.

When she joined Earthjustice in August of 1999, she made her presence felt immediately, engaging the organization in the fight to stop mountaintop removal coal mining and quickly establishing herself as one of the country's most effective and toughest advocates for clean water.

In 2007, Vanity Fair recognized her work and named her an Eco-Hero, alongside Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and then-EPA administrator Carol Browner. Joan was a fighter for the planet and for all people who suffer environmental injustice, and she was a great friend and ally to people across the country.

In the words of Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen:

"Joan was simply one of the most talented, tenacious, intelligent and dedicated advocates that we have ever had the pleasure of calling a colleague.

"Her passing leaves a hole not just in the Earthjustice family but for everyone who cares about clean water and about justice.

"We miss her more than words can say."

She was relentless; she was tenacious; she was tireless; she was kind;
and she was very effective.
Peter Welch
U.S. Representative (D-VT),
in a speech on the U.S. House floor
Joan Mulhern was true north, the moral bedrock of our community's efforts to defend the Clean Water Act, reform the Corps and stop mountaintop removal, among many other things.
Erich Pica
President, Friends of the Earth
She had every confidence in the righteousness and importance of her cause and that gave her unshakable courage to ask a lot of others … She was and will remain an inspiration.
Paul Burns
Executive Director,
Vermont Public Interest Research Group
Joan was the coal companies' worst enemy in Washington, and the people of Appalachia's best friend.
Jon Devine
Senior Attorney, NRDC

Written by Liz Judge.
First published in the Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine, Spring 2013 issue.