20th Anniversary MEJAN Breakfast

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 -
8:00am to 9:30am
Panelists at the 20th Anniversary MEJAN Breakfast

Join us to celebrate the 20th anniversary of MEJAN! This fundraiser will give us an opportunity to reflect on how far MEJAN has come in 20 years and what's next for environmental justice.

Speakers will include Dr. Nicky Sheats of New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, State Senator Jamie Eldridge, MEJAN client Reverend Curtis Dias, and Kalila Barnet of ACE.

Please contact John to RSVP.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
8:00 to 9:30 a.m.

Mintz Levin
One Financial Center
38th Floor

For more information, contact Staci.

Panelist bios

Kalila Barnet of ACE

Kalila Barnett is the Executive Director of Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a leading environmental justice organization based in Boston. For over twenty years ACE has worked to build the power of low-income communities and communities of color in Massachusetts and in the region.

Kalila first got involved with ACE as a volunteer and a member then later served on the board of directors. Kalila has over a decade of experience in community organizing around affordable housing, land development and environmental justice. She is a Roxbury native and lifelong resident of Boston. Kalila graduated from Bates College with a degree in American Studies and Spanish. Prior to assuming this position, Kalila was a Senior Organizer at Community Labor United, and worked at Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and Madison Park Development Corporation. Kalila serves on the board of Right to the City Alliance, Mass Budget and Policy Center, and The Center for Environmental Health.


MEJAN client Reverend Curtis Dias

Reverend Curtis Dias is a leader of the Concerned Citizens of Freetown, a member organization working for environmental justice in East Freetown, Massachusetts. East Freetown is home to a low income community of Black and Cape Verdean families, many of whom live on Braley Road. A pastor at Calvary Pentecostal Church on Braley Road, Reverend Dias worked with residents to form CCF in response to the many environmental injustices the community was facing.

Twenty years ago the Massachusetts Highway Department placed a salt facility on Braley Road. The salt seeped into groundwater and contaminated the wells of residents. Residents did not have enough pressure to flush toilets properly, for laundry or even quickly fill a glass of water. In 1996, Braley Road was designated as an industrial zone despite the century-old homes and churches, prompting residents to organize CCF and win a reversal of the designation back to residential.

Through the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network (MEJAN), ACE matched the group with Attorneys Gregor I. McGregor and Michael J. O’Neill of McGregor & Associates. CCF has now successfully defeated an asphalt plant, the expansion of a concrete facility, a trucking and distribution facility that would have massively increased already severe truck traffic on their street, and banned the storage of fly ash.

In 2003, with the assistance of Nadine Cohen of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Paul Wilson of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., CCF filed suit alleging that town officials had targeted their community for burdensome development and industrial zoning and then failed to correct the low water pressure. On February 25, 2005, CCF and the town agreed on a settlement in the case. Although the town categorically denies it, the settlement is a tacit admission of racism in their planning and zoning decision along Braley Road.

Reverend Dias continues the fight for environmental justice with CCF to secure the clean up of a tire dump and ensure the responsible siting of solar facilities.


State Senator Jamie Eldridge

State Senator Jamie Eldridge has served as State Senator for the Middlesex and Worcester district since January 2009.

Previously, Jamie served as State Representative for the 37th Middlesex district, after being elected the only Clean Elections candidate to public office in Massachusetts history in November 2002. Jamie is known for his leadership and independence on behalf of his constituents.

Jamie has focused his energies in the House and in the Senate on enhancing public education, stimulating the economy, promoting campaign and ethics reform, protecting the environment, improving public safety, expanding access to health care and improving public transportation.

Jamie is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Boston College Law School, where he served as President of the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) for two years. Prior to his election as State Representative, Jamie worked as a public interest attorney with Merrimack Valley Legal Services in Lowell, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to the poor and the elderly. As a public interest lawyer, he also worked to help low-income residents with issues of housing, Social Security, disability and unemployment.


Dr. Nicky Sheats of New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance

Nicky Sheats is currently the director of the Center for the Urban Environment at the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison Sate College where he has defined the primary mission of the Center as providing support for New Jersey’s environmental justice community.

He has been a member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, New Jersey’s only statewide environmental organization that focuses on environmental justice (EJ) issues, since its inception in 2003. Dr. Sheats has also been appointed to New Jersey’s Clean Air Council and in recent years has expanded his work to a national level where he is currently a member of the EJ Leadership Forum on Climate Change, EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and the National EJ Advisory Council (NEJAC). He is also serving as a lead author on the public health chapter of the National Climate Assessment and was formerly a member of the School Air Toxics Working Group of NEJAC and the New Orleans and Delta Area EJ Policy Task Force of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University.

Dr. Sheats received his Ph.D. from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University where his field of study was biological oceanography and his specialty was stable isotope biogeochemistry. He also has an undergraduate degree in economics from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He worked as a public interest attorney for almost eight years after graduating from law school. During that time, Dr. Sheats served as a law clerk for the Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, as a landlord-tenant and housing attorney at Camden Regional Legal Services, as a public defender in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and as a legal instructor at a community legal education and college preparatory program in Harlem.


This event is supported by:


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