MPCA announces members of first Environmental Justice Advisory Group

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news release

For release: Sept. 6, 2016
Contact: Pam McCurdy, 651-757-2559

MPCA announces members of first Environmental Justice Advisory Group

Saint Paul, Minn. — Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine, with the assistance of a selection committee, has invited 16 individuals from around Minnesota to advise the MPCA on matters related to environmental justice.  The group will provide input and recommendations about ways to incorporate the principles of environmental justice into the agency’s work. 

Along with other state agencies, the MPCA is striving to achieve equitable treatment and engagement of all people. In doing so, all Minnesotans will benefit from healthy air, land and water.

“It's easy to talk about remedying the disproportionate impacts of past pollution and preventing future harm, but much more difficult to put those words into action,” said Commissioner Stine. “This advisory group is an important step in making sure that equity is addressed in our work."

The MPCA’s environmental justice framework outlines goals and strategies to ensure that all Minnesotans benefit equally from environmental protection. Forming the Environmental Justice Advisory Group is one step intended to increase accountability and engagement between the public and the agency. 

The advisory group will provide recommendations and advise the MPCA Commissioner in four key areas, including:                                                                                                                     

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the MPCA in implementing its environmental justice framework, including assisting the agency in determining ways to measure success; 
  • Providing recommendations to the MPCA Commissioner on improvements to policies and procedures to ensure integration of environmental justice principles into the agency’s work; 
  • Providing input to the MPCA on activities and timeframes for framework implementation; and 
  • Collaborating with the MPCA to improve civic engagement around environmental justice issues and acting as liaisons to strengthen communication and relations.   

The MPCA expects the first meeting of the advisory group to be in October 2016.  All meetings will be open to the public.  

More information about the advisory group, the selection process and MPCA’s environmental justice work can be found on the Environmental Justice webpage.

Members of the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group

Maryan Abdinur — Maryan was born in Somalia and has worked as an interpreter for Doctors Without Borders as well as for health care providers here in Minnesota. Maryan is currently the Community Based Food Systems Program Organizer with Land Stewardship Project. She also serves on the board of the Minn. Association for Environmental Education. 

Lea Foushee — A long-time environmental justice activist in Minnesota, Lea is involved in indigenous women’s issues and is a mentor to the new generation of activists.  Lea co-founded the North American Water Office in 1982, and advised the MPCA on the development of its Environmental Justice Framework.

Sarah Goodspeed — Sarah is a Policy Analyst with the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy. Sarah previously worked for Hennepin County as an Environmental Education and Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, and for the Minnesota Chicano Latino Affairs Council as a Legislative and Community Relations Manager. 

Boise Jones — Boise is a community activist and independent consultant who works on environmental justice issues with a recent focus on North Minneapolis.   Boise has served on the Governor’s Climate Change Advisory Council and the MPCA’s mercury reduction oversight group.  Boise was active in advising the MPCA on development of its Environmental Justice Framework.

Winona LaDuke — Winona is the executive director of both White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth, and has extensive experience working on tribal land claims and preservation, as well as sustainable development. 

Asha Long — Asha is a founding organizer with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and also works for the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group as an organizer. 

David Manuel — David is a member of the Red Lake nation. He is a beekeeper, gardener, and wild rice harvester and works for the Red Lake Local Food Initiative. 

Jennifer Nguyen Moore — Jennifer is the City of Bloomington’s Sustainability Coordinator. She has experience working with new immigrant and non-English speaking communities and has training in meeting facilitation and action planning.

Shirley Nordrum — Shirley is a Local Extension Educator with the University of Minnesota. She is the founder and former Director of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe’s Environmental Department.

Mariela Ojeda — Mariella is a former MN GreenCorps member who served with the Latino Economic Development Center and provided technical assistance to Latino-owned businesses to help them reduce their environmental impact. 

LaShella Sims — LaShella is a North Minneapolis resident and a Senior Organizer with the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing. She directs much of her personal and professional energy toward organizing around transit. 

Halston Sleets — Halston is an Environmental Planning Analyst with Hennepin County. She has worked with indigenous communities in Denali National Park on policy reform regarding subsistence hunting, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental policy. 

Mahyar Sorour — Mahyar has experience recruiting, training, and organizing youth around environmental justice issues from her work as a Campus Organizer with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group. She serves on the board of MN 350 and has focused much of her organizing work around the Clean Power Plan and climate change.

Steve Sternberg — Steve is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth. His work focuses on environmental engineering issues, including industrial wastewater pre-treatment, landfill design, groundwater contamination modeling, climate change, air pollution and environmental justice impacts. 

Anita Urvina Davis — Anita is a North Minneapolis resident and a former Multicultural Environmental Outreach and Education Liaison for Hennepin County. She has extensive experience coordinating efforts between counties, nonprofit organizations, and State agencies. She currently manages grants for the Community POWER Education program. 

Joan Vanhala — Joan is a resident of the Phillips neighborhood and has extensive experience working on environmental justice issues and creating and community engagement processes that result in sustainable solutions. She was active in advising the MPCA on development of its Environmental Justice Framework. She currently works for the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability as a Coalition Organizer.

Broadcast version

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently announced the members of its newly formed Environmental Justice Advisory Group. MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine says that all Minnesotans need to benefit equally from environmental protection, and this advisory group will help make that a reality. He plans for the group to help the agency reach out to and engage with portions of the population whose voices are frequently not heard in regard to environmental issues. 

For more information, visit the MPCA website at and search for environmental justice.


The mission of the MPCA is to protect and improve the environment and enhance human health.

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