Department of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Sierra Club’s Journey to Become a More Equitable, Inclusive and Just Organization

"In 2014 the Sierra Club Board of Directors adopted our first multi-year organizational plan, designed to transform the Sierra Club into a more equitable, just and inclusive organization (link to vision narrative once online). This year I was hired to serve as Sierra Club’s first-ever Director of the Department of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. This is just the beginning of a long journey for Sierra Club; by centering our key principles of equity, justice and inclusion in every aspect of our work, we aim to transform ourselves and build a healthy, welcoming and sustainable community that celebrates people from all walks of life."

~ Nellis Kennedy-Howard, Director of the Department of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

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Silence is Consent: Solidarity with All People Fighting Oppression
In 1967 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon in which he said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Read more.


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The Backbone of the Camp: Meet the Women of Standing Rock
Recently I was honored to visit the ancestral homelands of the Standing Rock Sioux and meet the people pushing back against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the water and sacred lands of the Sioux. My wife and I spent five incredible days at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, Camp of the Sacred Stone, Red Warrior Camp and other sites of sacred ceremony and non-violent resistance, talking with the folks on the ground who have built a powerful movement for global Indigenous solidarity. Read more.


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Climate Justice and Climate Apartheid
It is the beginning of hurricane season and the nation’s attention is once again riveted by the “new normal” of global warming-influenced supercell storm events wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Some politicians are seeking to score electoral points by engaging in one-upmanship to appear most responsive to weather-related disasters while intentionally not dealing with the American appetite for carbon-based fuels that drive both climate change and extreme weather events. Read more.


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A Hard and Heartbreaking Week
I don't know anyone who didn't find last week both hard and heartbreaking. Two more incomprehensible fatal police shootings of African Americans followed by a horrific and deadly attack on police officers at a peaceful protest in Dallas. Seven senseless deaths fed the fear that our nation is sliding toward a chasm of hatred and violence.Read more.


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A Clean Energy Example for Netroots Nation Attendees in St. Louis
What gives me hope in the face of these loud polluter voices are stories like the Reverend Rodrick Burton’s of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church here in St. Louis. Three years ago, under Rev. Burton’s leadership, solar panels were installed on New Northside’s church and the congregation’s community center. Rev. Burton estimates the solar panels save the church $3,000 annually. Read more.


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Read the Comments

Riding alone on the D.C. Metro Silver Line late last Thursday night, I shut my laptop in disgust. I had just left my sister's house in northern Virginia. And now, reading some comments on a Facebook post had wiped out much of the good feeling of reconnecting with family. Read more.


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It's Time to Protect Bears Ears

The name of the proposed Bears Ears National Monument is fitting because, of all the potential monument designations before President Obama, this one really stands out. For starters, the new monument would be big. It encompasses 1.9 million acres of unprotected canyons, mesas, arches, and redrock formations similar to those of the adjacent Canyonlands National Park. Read more.



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A Call for Migration With Dignity on World Refugee Day

From Louisiana and Alaska to Bangladesh and Fiji, climate disruption is taking away people’s homes and livelihoods. We’ve seen this take many shapes and forms -- cyclones, typhoons, coastal land loss, severe drought, desertification, and more. Indeed, although weather and climate are different phenomenons, we’re seeing how a shifting climate is creating more extreme weather events and slow onset impacts such as coastal erosion and drought. Read more.


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Lummi Nation Prepares Totem Pole Journey to Continue Highlighting Fossil Fuel Risks

The Lummi Nation may have won a major victory in their long struggle to block a coal export terminal slated for their treaty protected fishing grounds in Washington state, but they aren’t finished raising awareness about the threats fossil fuels pose to their region. Read more.


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Voting Justice Is Environmental Justice

While we are celebrating this historic civil rights victory, unfortunately the power of the VRA has been limited. The 2016 election will be the first election without the full protection of the VRA. In 2013 the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the VRA. States that had a long history of intentionally suppressing the vote of African Americans and all communities of color, no longer had to have their state voting laws approved by the Department of Justice. Read more.


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Reflecting on Pride Season in the Shadow of Orlando

Pride is a time of joy and celebration for many in the Sierra Club community. It is a season observed around the world for people who identify as LGBTQ to publicly celebrate their identities and come together with allies. This year as we celebrate, we are also reflecting on the special meaning that Pride has for us in the wake of the shockingly violent and tragic mass shooting that took place at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.We asked people from the Sierra Club community to reflect on the question: What does Pride mean to you, in the shadow of Orlando? Read more.


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Why We Fight for $15

Tamara Elzubair and Elizabeth James live in my community of greater Schenectady, New York and can’t make ends meet. And that’s a problem. Tamara, who makes less than $15 an hour, can’t afford to live on her own. Instead she lives with two of her three daughters and her three grandchildren even though she works two jobs, as a certified nursing assistant at a county nursing home and as a private duty aide. Read more.


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Justice Must Be Served in Flint

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is an unmitigated environmental and human health disaster. The tragedy is not just that the Michigan government—both the legislative and executive branches—failed to ensure that the Flint community's basic civil human and health rights were protected. Read more.


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Rebuild, Resist, Renew

The 10th anniversary commemoration of Hurricane Katrina gives me occasion to reflect on the early efforts by poor and working-class Americans and indigenous activists from throughout the Americas -- the people who were, by and large, most affected by the fossil fuel industry -- to lead the global conversation on climate justice principles to keep fossil fuels and carbon in the ground. Read more.


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50 Years Later We Must Restore the VRA

On Saturday, August 1, I joined activists from across the country and various backgrounds in Selma, Alabama to begin a journey for justice to Washington, D.C. demanding greater economic, social, and environmental justice. Led by NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, this coalition included everyone from Selma Mayor George Evans to Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL7) to U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (OR). It included partners from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Communication Workers of America, and more. Read more.


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Join Us in This Walk Through the World

I was pleased to be a part of the Sierra Club Board of Directors’ historic effort in May 2015 to approve our multi-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan. One of the significant points about adopting DEI at this time was to ensure that the Sierra Club moves forward to engage and encourage the entire organization to value and learn from our nation’s rich, diverse mosaic of people and cultures. This is critical if we are going to be serious about our organization’s core mission to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth. Read more.


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A More Diverse, Inclusive, and Welcoming Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is committed to creating a culture in which all people feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. I was pleased to publish this LTE in response to a recent article about the lack of diversity in environmental groups. Read more.