Catherine Coleman Flowers, Founding Director, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice

Dean Lloyd Minor welcomes environmental activist Catherine Coleman Flowers for a conversation about widespread failures of public sanitation in the U.S., and the health and economic impacts on vulnerable populations in rural communities. They explore root causes of these systemic lapses, the increasing threat of climate change, and how her research and advocacy expanded from one Alabama county to communities across the country. They also discuss the power of leading by listening, building a broad, diverse network of supporters, and maintaining humility and optimism in the face of daunting challenges.

Meet Catherine Coleman Flowers

Catherine Coleman Flowers is an environmental and climate justice activist bringing attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States — an issue that disproportionately impacts underrepresented groups. She grew up in Lowndes County, Alabama, and her return there in 2001 launched two decades of advocacy. As founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, Catherine has worked with the United Nations Special Rapporteur and Columbia University to highlight challenges faced by the rural South and other low-income communities. She serves as vice chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and also serves on the board of the Climate Reality Project. She is the recipient of many honors and awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship for Environmental Health Advocacy. Her memoir, Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America’s Dirty Secretwas published in 2020.


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