Environmental Justice

North Carolina is the birthplace of the environmental justice movement and has a rich history of community advocacy, but more work is needed to advance environmental justice within the State. Governor Cooper has taken a whole-of-government approach to advance environmental justice efforts and help improve the quality of life in North Carolina communities.

Governor Cooper's Executive Order No. 246 and Executive Order No. 292 directs various actions to advance environmental justice in North Carolina. EO 246 directs cabinet agencies to consider environmental justice when taking actions related to climate change, resilience, and clean energy and to identify an environmental justice lead to serve as the point person for agency environmental justice efforts. EO 292, issued in October of 2023 reestablishing the Secretary of Environmental Quality's Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board as the Governor's Environmental Justice Advisory Council. The Council is empowered to be a forum for whole-of-government environmental justice concerns. The order directs cabinet agencies to develop environmental justice goals and measurable outcomes, the development of an Environmental Justice Hub, including a statewide environmental justice mapping tool and additional information about environmental justice resources across state government. The Order also directs the Governor's Office and Cabinet agencies to incorporate environmental justice considerations into their policies and programs to the extent permitted by law.

Governor's Environmental Justice Advisory Council

Executive order 292 reestablished the Secretary of Environmental Quality's Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board as the Governor's Environmental Justice Advisory Council. The Council serves as a forum for whole-of-government environmental justice concerns and is tasked with providing guidance and recommendations to the Governor and State agencies to advance environmental justice. The Council consist of a mixture of community members and state agency employees. The Board was first established in 2018 by then Secretary Michael Regan, who now serves as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and continued its work under Secretary Elizabeth Biser.

Environmental Justice Goals and Measurable Outcomes

Section Seven of Executive Order 292 directs cabinet agencies to develop at least three draft EJ goals and measurable outcomes. The draft goals and outcomes are available for a 60-day public commenting period. Following public comment, the Council will provide feedback to the Cabinet agencies to consider as they finalize goals and outcomes, incorporating public feedback as practicable and feasible.

Upcoming Community Meetings

Tuesday, March 26th, Wake County
Tuesday, May 28th, Wayne County 
Tuesday, July 23rd, Halifax County
Tuesday, September 24th, Stanly County 



Tab/Accordion Items

Chair: Courtney Woods
  • Work with the Department of Information Technology's Environmental Justice Hub and Mapping Tool project team on developing the hub and mapping tool.
  • Report updates on the Hub and Mapping tool to the full Council.
  • In consultation with the Council, provide feedback to DIT's questions regarding the project.
  • In consultation with the Council, provide recommendations to DIT to help inform project development.

Chair: Sherri White-Williamson
  • Consult with the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships, engage with academia, prioritizing HBCUs and other MSIs, and other research institutions to research cumulative impacts.
  • Develop recommendations for creating a framework and methodology to assess cumulative impacts in North Carolina

Chair: Ebony Pittman
  • Develop a community engagement plan for the Council and subcommittees. This could be adapted from existing plans.
  • Solicit input from communities with EJ concerns.
  • In consultation with the Council, develop further guidance for state agencies on best practices for identifying and responding to EJ communities. 

Chair: Marian Johnson Thompson
  • Recommend a comprehensive EJ training plan for state agencies that the Office of State Human Resources can make available to state employees.
  • Consider whether there should be a recommendation for training to local governments and local planning boards.

Chair: Jennifer Mundt 
  • Develop a framework for completing the October 15, 2024, report. The report should (1) identify and make recommendations for advancing EJ, (2) describe activities of the council, (3) identify EJ policies and programs in state agencies, and (4) describe agency implementation of their public participation plans.
  • Establish and manage timelines for completion of draft sections.
  • Establish and manage review protocols within the Council.


Council Members

Dr. James Johnson, Jr., Co-Chair - Johnson is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of strategy and entrepreneurship and director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. His research interests include community and economic development, the effects of demographic changes on the U.S. workplace, interethnic minority conflict in advanced industrial societies, urban poverty and public policy in urban America, and workforce diversity issues.

Dr. Virginia Guidry, Co-Chair - Guidry serves as the branch head and environmental justice lead at the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She also serves as an adjunct associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Epidemiology.

Justin Flores- Flores is the Director of the Workers and Jobs program at the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, where he leads PESP's work supporting workers, unions, and other labor groups organizing for better working conditions at private equity-owned companies. Prior to joining PESP, Justin held numerous positions at the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) from 2009-2022.

Cara Bridges - Bridges Serves as Director, of Policy and Strategic Planning, at North Carolina Department of Public Safety. She is responsible for managing the department's strategic plan, including creating, updating, and tracking implementation. Bridges also manages all department level policies.

Demico Guy - A recent graduate of the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Guy currently works with Soil & Water Conservation, at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He has interned with the UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies as a research technician, with the North Carolina Conservation Network.

Dr. Tamara Holmes Brothers - Dr. Brothers serves as Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, with the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources She works to design, develop, and implement agency programs, agency DEAI efforts, policies, and the strategic plan, as well as provide executive-level support to the Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Marian Johnson-Thompson - Dr. Thompson is an adjunct Professor of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has over 25 years of experience in clinical trials research activities and is active with Susan G. Komen as a Komen Scholar since 2018, a Komen Advocate in Science (AIS) for over 5 years and serves on the AIS Steering Committee.

Justin Duncan - Duncan is serves as the Director of Partnership, Engagement, and Inclusion, at the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. Justin previously served as energy and sustainability manager at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety as well as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Marilynn Marsh-Robinson - Robinson is the Director of Partnerships and Outreach, at the Environmental Defense Fund. Marilynn is responsible for collaborating and leading aspects of EDF's zero-emission vehicle transportation strategy, identifying potential partners, nurturing shared dialogue, developing opportunities to leverage common work and implementing tactical joint efforts and helping develop, guide and execute organizational priorities to facilitate deployment of zero-emission vehicles in North Carolina.

Evin Grant - Grant serves as the NC Department of Administration (Policy Director to develop and assist in implementing policies and procedures for departments, initiatives, and task forces, across the State of North Carolina. He also collaborates on statewide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program development, initiatives, and training and advises on employment, non-public education, technology, and more.

Naeema Muhammad (Nai-ee-ma) - Muhammad is the Senior Advisor, at the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. Naeema worked on the Community Health and Environmental Reawakening (CHER) in which she served as a community organizer working with communities dealing with waste from industrial hog operations.

Torre Jessup - Jessup Serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. Jessup oversees the N.C. Department of Information Technology's administrative functions, which include human resources, legislative affairs, internal audit, procurement, communications, budget, and finance as well as facilities.

Daisha Wall (Day-Sha) - Wall currently serves asCommunity Science Manager, at CleanAIRENC. In previous roles, Daisha was a Stormwater Specialist and Educator for a municipal stormwater partnership, a Legislative Assistant for an environmental council in Seattle, as well a Donor Communications Assistant for a non-profit with the focus of providing clean water to those in need.

Sharon Martin - Martin serves as the Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Prior to joining DEQ she worked in media in various capacities for more than two decades. Her experience includes writing, producing and on-air appearances for local public radio, local television news, CNN and documentary television shows.

Sherri White-Williamson - Williamson is the Director of Environmental Justice Strategy at the North Carolina Conservation Network where she focuses on incorporating consideration of environmental justice in NCCN's policy and outreach efforts. She retired from the U.S. EPA's Office of Environmental Justice, where she served in many roles including Manager of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice established under Executive Order 12898 and Designated Federal Officer to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Jennifer Mundt - Mundt serves as the Assistant Secretary of Clean Energy Economic Development for the North Carolina Department of Commerce where she leads efforts to secure clean energy economic and workforce opportunities for North Carolina, including offshore wind. She served as the Senior Policy Advisor in the Department of Environmental Quality and prior to that, Jennifer worked for more than a decade as a nonpartisan senior legislative analyst for the North Carolina General Assembly.

Dr. Rebecca Witter - Dr. Witter is an Associate Professor of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University and co-founding member of the Eastern North Carolina Environmental Justice Collaborative (“EJ Co-Lab”), a university-community partnership that works to achieve knowledge co-production in environmental justice. Witter’s long-term ethnographic and transdisciplinary research examines the interlinkages between well-meaning environmental protection initiatives and human impoverishment and dispossession.

Ebony Pittman - Pittman currently serves as Deputy Secretary for Business Administration at the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In her role, she directs the N.C. Department of Transportation's Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Historically Black Colleges, and Universities Outreach, Purchasing and Facilities Management. Pittman serves as co-executive sponsor for NCDOT's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which works to develop solutions that create a more diverse and inclusive culture within the department.

Dr. Courtney G. Woods - Dr. Woods is an Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering and Master of Public Health Program Director, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. She serves a lead for the Master of Public Health (MPH) program's Environmental Health Solutions concentration and co-lead for the Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights concentration, which she helped develop.

Douglas Taggart - Taggart serves as Interagency Coordinator at the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He has assisted military service members and veterans transition into K-12 teaching careers in public and charter schools with the Troops to Teachers grant program as part of the NC Department of Public Instruction.

Tommy Cabe - Cabe is a Tribal member from the Bird Town Community, and as the Tribal Forest Resource Liaison, he is responsible for Forest Management Plan Development on the Trust Lands and on forested Tribal acres. He serves as a liaison in the "agency to agency" relationships with the USFS and the NPS for collaboration on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).

McKinley Wooten - Wooten Serves as Assistant Secretary for Tax Processing, Research, and Equity, with the North Carolina Department of Revenue. He has served in several senior level positions in state government, including inspector general, deputy secretary of the Department of Administration as well as director and deputy director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.


Contact the Environmental Justice Advisory Council