Four Gen Awards 2018 - Queen Zakia Shabazz - Baby Boomer Generation

Four Gen Awards 2018 - Queen Zakia Shabazz - Baby Boomer Generation

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Queen Zakia Shabazz, VEJC CEO


Queen Zakia Shabazz

Queen Zakia Shabazz is an author, educator, lecturer,  and environmental justice advocate. Her work began in 1996 when she discovered that her young son had been poisoned by lead, prompting her to establish United Parents Against Lead (UPAL). UPAL is a national networking organization of and for parents of children poisoned by lead that works to end the threat of lead poisoning and other environmental hazards through education and awareness, advocacy, intervention, and resource referral.    


In addition to serving as executive director of UPAL, Shabazz is a local Stand for Children Organizer, a position she's held since 1996. She currently serves as Coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative (VEJC) and is a member of the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative. Shabazz is an inaugural Community Partners in Residence Fellow at the University of Richmond, and a former elementary school teacher. As an advocate for Adult Literacy she has served as a READ Center Board member and on the advisory board of the Senate Joint Subcommittee Studying Lead Poisoning Prevention. Shabazz continues to provide valuable insight, time and dedication towards the eradication of lead poisoning.  


Queen Shabazz holds a bachelor's in business administration and a paralegal certificate specializing in real estate and civil litigation. She is also a notary public and a 2019 graduate of the EPA's Environmental Justice Academy.  

Tamara A. Dickerson is a mother, educator, entrepreneur, consultant, and advocate for Environmental Justice.  She holds a Master’s degree in Education, where she used her influence as an educator to bring awareness to environmental issues and topics. She worked as a member of her school’s Green and Recycling Committee and as Chairperson for the Social Studies Committee, to help bring sustainable practices to her school environment. As an educator and activist, she has worked tirelessly teaching the value of environmentally safer practices. In addition, she has organized workshops/seminars on a variety of environmental issues and advocates for urban farming, watershed protection and land preservation and more.  Tamara brings personal, and scholarly perspectives to her current position as Coordinator. 

VEJC Board of Directors


Peter Anderson

Peter is the Virginia Policy Director for Appalachian Voices, a founding member of the VEJC. In this role, he helps lead the organization's campaigns opposing new gas pipelines and promoting efficiency and a clean energy economy. Peter has been an active participant in the VEJC for several years, and he is particularly proud of the group's work to advance the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and the Environmental Justice Act of 2020. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar, earning his J.D. from George Mason University and his B.A. from James Madison University. Prior to joining Appalachian Voices in 2016, he gained experience in various roles, including work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Defense Fund.  


Lynn Godfrey

Lynn Godfrey is the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter’s Just Energy Transition Manager. 


Lynn started with the Club in 2019 as the Community Outreach Coordinator for their Stop the Pipelines Campaign and in that short period has seen her share of fossil fuel fights – The ACP (Atlantic Coast Pipeline); The VNG HIP; the C4GT Gas Plant; the Chickahominy, and, now the MVP, the other three (3) have fallen.  She is passionate about environmental justice and is bridging the fossil fuel organizing gap with place-based community sustainability ‘just energy transition’ work in Portsmouth, VA.  

Lynn states, “A just energy transition is our ultimate goal.  To move from an extractive source of energy to one that is regenerative such as wind and solar and making that transition an equitable one for all stakeholders is the goal of just transition work.”  Creating an energy change that promotes healthy communities and not unjust sick ones is what this work is all about.

Lynn is an HBCU graduate of NSU with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies; MA in Urban Affairs; and an MPH from Eastern Virginia Medical School.

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Travis Williams

Travis Williams, Ph.D., is full-time teaching faculty in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his doctorate in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012. He served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Science & Technology in Society at Virginia Tech from 2012 to 2014. He frequently teaches Introduction to Sociology (SOCY-101), Social Movements & Conflict (SOCY-310), and Sociology of Race & Ethnicity (SOCY-322). He also instructs upper-level courses such as Environmental Racism (SOCY-420).

Professor Williams has also been at the forefront of organizing public forums and symposiums in the Richmond area focusing on environmental justice and racialized ecologies:

- 2019 Racial Ecologies of the South: Intersectional Resistance & Empowerment
- 2018 Racialized Ecologies and Environmental Justice in Virginia: Symposium & Public Forum

Travis Williams is currently a collaborator on the Race, Space, and Place Initiative (RSPI), which is organizing a non-traditional conference and year-long lecture series at VCU.

Legislative, Regulatory and Policy Advisor to VEJC


Roy A. Hoagland has worked on Chesapeake Bay watershed issues for over 30 years, advocating for clean water and healthy local and regional environments and communities in a variety of forums and arenas. His experience has included partnering with citizens, watershed groups, funders, nontraditional partners, and government agencies in the development and adoption of progressive reform initiatives, from local land use matters to national policy. He has legislative, regulatory, and policy experience at the state, regional and federal levels. While the Director of the William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center (, he led the Center’s engagement in environmental justice matters and played a leadership role in the creation of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative ( and the crafting of its governance and partnership commitment criteria. As a former member and chair of the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board, he advocated for substantive changes to address environmental justice in Virginia’s air emissions permitting arena.  He is a graduate of the Koinonia School of Race and Justice (, several Center for Whole Communities programs (, and now serves on the Council of Richmond Hill ( Through his consulting company, HOPE Impacts (, he is serving as a pro bono legislative, regulatory, and policy advisor to the Collaborative. 

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Monica Esparza

Monica Esparza is an educator, meditator and trustee of the Renewal of Life Land Trust.  Her background includes conservation service at historic sites such as Hickory Hill School, Prince Edward State Park and the African Burial Ground in Richmond. Retired from Richmond Public Schools as a Career and Technical Education instructor, Monica also has over 18 years of service with the State of Virginia, working in parks and transportation agencies as a business development and civil rights professional. She continues a long commitment to green advocacy, land protection and environmental justice by engagement in environmental education, real estate and workforce projects.

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Dr. Mary Finley-Brook

Dr. Mary Finley-Brook is currently an Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment at the University of Richmond. Dr. Finley-Brook's research focuses and expertise include a diverse range of topics including: climate change policy and carbon trade, transnational forest management and extraction, multi-ethnic/indigenous peoples' resource rights in Latin America and sustainability within institutions of higher education. Mary has years of experience within her topical research areas and her work has been published and cited in dozens of academic journals and books. Dr. Finley-Brook is also very active within the environmental justice sphere in the state and formerly served on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice. Mary holds a BA in Environmental Studies, Concentration in Latin American Studies from the University of Vermont, a MA in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and a PhD in Geography from the University of Texas-Austin. 

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Steve Fischbach

Steve Fischbach is currently the Litigation Director for the Virginia Poverty Law Center, the state support center for all Legal Aid

programs in Virginia. Before moving to Virginia Steve worked for 30 years at Rhode Island Legal Services, pioneering the practice of Community Lawyering in a legal services setting.
His legal experience spans a variety of racial justice issues, including environmental justice, community reinvestment and disinvestment, urban school reform, siting of low income housing and facilities for the homeless and preservation of public and subsidized housing units.  His environmental justice work includes litigation, research and development of policies related to the siting of schools relative to
environmental hazards such as toxic waste sites; transactional work related to the establishment of a new environmental justice organization and grant writing to support community education and capacity building projects on environmental justice issues. Steve received his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University and his law degree from Boston University Law School.

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BeKura Shabazz

BeKura Shabazz is the Founder and Mediator of First Alliance Consulting, LLC, a consulting group that uses a community-based business solutions model to develop strategies geared towards resolving specific community issues. BeKura has over two decades of experience in the field of community organizing and political education on the democratic processes that seek to empower citizens to take action in their neighborhoods. She is also active with the organization, the Southeast CARE Coalition and has worked in the past for CASA of Central Virginia, the Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) and the International Women's Lib Coalition. 

Sylvina Poole is the Communications Manager for VAEJC. She is a motivated communications professional with specialties in print, radio, television and publishing. Punctual professional with keen multi-tasking abilities, organizational capabilities, time management skills, and an infallible record of meeting tight deadlines.

Since 1988, she has worked as a senior journalist for the Metro Section of the Richmond Times Dispatch, Virginia Business Magazine, Metropolitan Business Magazine, the Afro American Newspaper and the Voice Newspaper.


Sylvina has worked for Fortune 500 businesses as well as start-up organizations to deliver powerful and effective messages to their target audiences. Other accomplishments include contractor for the Richmond City Business Development department to teach budding small business owners about media relations and marketing. Successful completion of the Grant writing certification at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Sylvina Poole
Communications Manager 

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