"Sheparding" Environmental Justice

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Press Release

Date: Monday, January 5, 2004
Contact: Christopher Greaves, Communications Director, (212) 961-1000, ext. 304 or Chris@weact.org

Peggy M. Shepard honored for pioneering urban activism against environmental injustice

An environmental crusader who fought urban ecological hazards through grassroots advocacy and determined leadership was selected to receive the Heinz Award for the Environment, one of the largest individual achievement prizes in the world last month. Peggy Shepard, founder and executive director of West Harlem Environmental Action and a tireless champion for the quality of life within urban America, was one of five notable recipients of the $250,000 awards, presented in five categories by the Heinz Family Foundation in December.

"Peggy Shepard raised her voice and later a veritable army against a systemic form of racism that wittingly or not, sacrifices the environmental health of poor urban areas," said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. "Today, the systematic nature of the environment and ill health have made all of us, and particularly children, claw and fight for environmental justice."

Under Shepard's leadership, WE ACT operates programs in environmental health, environmental education, and community and youth empowerment. It also has cooperative partnerships with physicians and scientists at leading medical institutions, labor unions and diverse environmental, public health and urban constituencies. Shepard has successfully combined grassroots organization, environmental advocacy and scientific research to become one of the most highly respected environmental advocates in the country today.

"The health and vitality of the earth begins at the community level every community and we must be vigilant to ensure that environmental justice is dispensed fairly and vigorously across the diverse landscape of America," Shepard said. "This is a cause that is closer to its beginning than its end, and I hope that this prestigious award helps to raise public consciousness for the need to accelerate our collective commitment toward improving the environmental quality of urban and rural areas alike. I want to thank the Heinz Family Foundation, whose own record of environmental achievement is itself impressive."

The Heinz Awards were presented in Pittsburgh last December.

Congratulations, Peggy!!!

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