As the President continues to sign executive orders that seek to dismantle much of the recent works done to progress environmental protections, we are increasingly concerned about the exploitation of our environment for corporate greed. The primary victims of environmental harm are often impoverished and marginalized communities with limited opportunity to meaningfully participate in decision-making and public debate on environmental issues, a key example is the water crisis in Flint, MI. This workshop focuses on key environmental protections and the advocacy work that must be done to keep our communities safe and healthy.

Location: Payden 103

Moderator: Cory Ragsdale



Gabriela Freiría-Escriba, VA/MD Outreach Coordinator, People’s Climate Movement

Gabriela is a young activist from Puerto Rico, the daughter of a teacher and salesman. She successfully coordinated and organized the participation of over 200,000 people from all over the country who traveled to the D.C. area for the People’s Climate Movement March.  Her previous professional roles include working as a member of the National Latino Outreach Team for Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential Campaign and as an intern with the U.S. House of Representatives with a Congressman who oversaw environmental protection of the Everglades National Park. Gabriela received her Bachelor's Degree in communications from the University of Sacred Heart located in Puerto Rico.



Melissa Mays, Water You Fighting For

Fighting through the Flint water crisis firsthand, Melissa learned how important it is to protect families from water and environmental contamination. Through activism, pushing for new legislation, education, scientific testing, and community organizing, Melissa was able to help bring the water crisis to the forefront. She has spent the past 2 years pushing for solutions, accountability, and real change so no other family has to suffer the same fate. It is critical that we change the way we view and protect our air, soil, and water. We need to work together to make the safest and most sustainable choices for our environment and our nation's future.


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Deirdre Shelly, US National Organizer, 350 and 350 Action

Deirdre Shelly is the US National Organizer with She works with climate activists across the country who are working to stop fossil fuel projects, build clean energy or pass climate legislation in their community. Deirdre joined the fight to stop climate change as a college student, when she worked on a campaign pressuring her University to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry. Much of her work has focused on how to deepen and expand the climate movement through mass mobilizations and actions.