Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Casting your Ballot for Environmental Justice: Discussing Where Protest Fills Gaps in Electoral Process

Date and Time
Thursday, September 8, 2022 - 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Casting your Ballot for Environmental Justice: Discussing Where Protest Fills Gaps in Electoral Process


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This event brings together Social Justice and Civil Rights scholars and advocates to discuss the intersection of voting, civil disobedience, and environmental justice. As we come up on midterm elections in the U.S., this program highlights two things: the history and interconnectedness of voting rights and environmental justice in this country, and the ways in which movements have used other methods, such as protest, when the electoral processes have failed to promote equity and public wellbeing.

Event partners include the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, The Southern Environmental Law Center, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, and the Duke POLIS Center for Politics.

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  • Kay Jowers, Director, Just Environments, Nicholas Institute (Moderator)
    Kay Jowers is Director for Just Environments, a partnership between the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Her work focuses on analyzing state regulatory and policy approaches to addressing environmental issues and engages with environmental equity, ethics, and justice in particular. She co-directs the Environmental Justice Lab, a collaboration with the Duke Economics Department.
  • Jennifer Lawson, Television Producer and Civil Rights and Voting Rights Advocate 
    Jennifer Lawson is a Civil Rights and Voting Rights advocate and television producer. She has worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) where she has worked on self-empowerment programs for rural women. In 1989, Lawson was hired by PBS as their first chief programming executive, making her the highest ranking black woman to have served in public television.
  • Allison Riggs, Co-Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice
    Allison Riggs leads the voting rights program at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, an organization. In March of 2020, she also took over as Interim Executive Director of the organization, and in March of 2021, became the permanent co-Executive Director. Her voting rights work over the last decade at SCSJ has been focused on fighting for fair redistricting plans, fighting against voter suppression, and advocating for electoral reforms that would expand access to voting.
  • Kym Meyer, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center
    Kym Meyer is a Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, and Leader of SELC"s Government Accountability initiative. Kym litigates on a wide range of cases in both federal and state court. Kym is the lead attorney challenging President Trump's rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act. She successfully argued before the North Carolina Supreme Court for the North Carolina NAACP in a groundbreaking case that challenges whether a racially gerrymandered legislature can amend the NC constitution. Kym has been involved in many cases involving climate change, including reaching a ground-breaking settlement with the North Carolina DOT which resulted in unprecedented environmental protections, and a number of new statewide climate change policies.

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