Tell us about your work in North Richmond.
I was born and raised in North Richmond and I have been involved with the community every day since. My life’s work centers on improving the quality of life for the residents of North Richmond. The two biggest organizations I’m involved with are the North Richmond Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) and the West County Toxic Coalition – both of which I helped to found over thirty years ago.
Tell us more about your work with the environment.
I am considered a pioneer of the national environmental justice movement – I’m really proud of that record. Locally, that has meant working with organizations to make sure they are being a good neighbor. In the early days, Chevron did not have as many environmental regulations as they do now. Over the years, I served on Chevron advisory committees, advocating for the causes I’m passionate about, including more environmental protections. I’ve found that Chevron has become a better listener and demonstrated a commitment to find solutions. The Modernization Project will help make significant improvements to our environment and community. And that is what being a good neighbor is all about – sitting down at the table and working together.
You were initially concerned about the Modernization Project, what changed your mind?
The Modernization Project has committed to no net increase in air contaminants and health risks, and no physical increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These environmental protections are what I had spent years advocating for and this project made them a reality. Being a national environmental justice leader, I’ve followed other refinery projects that are happening across the country. This by far the best I’ve seen. No other project has committed to environmental regulatory improvements like the Richmond Refinery Modernization Project. It would be foolish for me, or anyone, to not support this project.
How have you seen the relationship between Chevron and the community change over the years?
It has changed tremendously. In my early days, you hardly saw a Chevron representative out in the community. Now, they are truly involved. From coming to our MAC meetings to update us on job openings, to educating the community about how to use the fenceline Community Air Monitoring Program, to sponsoring festivals like Cinco de Mayo. Additionally, North Richmond has historically been excluded from a lot of community benefits, but I have seen that change, too. Chevron makes sure that we are included – there is a high level of mutual respect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Serve the people! I am very involved in the MAC and passionate about seeing North Richmond reach its fullest potential. My favorite community events are the Earth Day celebration and the North Richmond Music Festival – both of which I had a hand in starting so it is great to see how they’ve grown since day one.