Secretary's Environmental Justice and Equity Board Members

The sixteen board members were selected from all across North Carolina, representing the rich diversity and many cultures of our state. The scope of the Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board is to assist DEQ in achieving and maintaining the fair and equal treatment and meaningful involvement of North Carolinians regardless of where they live, their race, religion or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Board members are listed below. 

Board Members
Dr. James Johnson, Jr. – Chair Randee Haven-O'Donnell
Marian Johnson-Thompson – Vice Chair Jeff Anstead
Dr. Danelle Lobdell Joey Owle
Naeema Muhammad Rev. Rodney Sadler Jr.
Jamie Cole William Barber III
Veronica Carter Marilynn Marsh-Robinson
Dr. Susan Jakes Carolina Fonseca Jimenez

Board Members' Biographies

Dr. James Johnson, Jr. – Chair

Dr. James Johnson, Jr. – Chair

James H. Johnson, Jr. is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds degrees from North Carolina Central University (B.S., 1975), the University of Wisconsin at Madison (M.S., 1977), and Michigan State University (Ph.D., 1980). Prior to joining the UNC-CH faculty, Dr. Johnson was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he spent the first twelve years of his professional career.

Selected by Fast Company magazine as one of the "17 … brightest thinkers and doers in the new world of work," Dr. Johnson’s current research and consulting activities focus on the workforce and workplace implications of post-1990 demographic changes in the U.S; and on how to create highly competitive and sustainable business enterprises and communities in the current era of economic uncertainty and global insecurity. His research on these and related topics has been widely cited in a number of national media outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Newsweek, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and Business Week. He has also appeared on a number of national television shows, including The Today Show on NBC, CNN Headline News, the CBS Evening News, ABC Nightly News, Sunday Morning on CBS, This Week in Review on NBC, and North Carolina People with William Friday.

Marian Johnson-Thompson, BC, MD, PhD – Vice Chair

Marian Johnson-Thompson, BC, MD, PhD – Vice Chair

Marian Johnson-ThompsonDr. Johnson-Thompson is Professor Emerita of Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health. From 1992 until her retirement in 2008, Dr. JohnsonThompson was Director, Education and Biomedical Research Development at the National institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where she developed programs that included health disparities, K-12 science education, minority PhD training programs and environmental justice (EJ) initiatives.

Dr. Johnson-Thompson was a member of the protocol committee that planned and implemented the first federal government supported environmental justice symposium, “Health Research Needs to Ensure Environmental Justice,” which led to President Clinton’s signing of the EJ Executive Order 12898. Dr. Johnson-Thompson’s past community outreach involvements have been with local and national HBCUs, The Intercultural Cancer Council, the National Medical Association, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Her active memberships include the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Sigma Xi, and the National Medical Association. She currently resides in Durham and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Howard University and a Trustee of the N.C. Environmental Defense Fund.

Dr. Danelle Lobdell

Dr. Danelle Lobdell

Dr. Danelle Lobdell is an epidemiologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Office of Research and Development. She received her M.S. in Natural Sciences and her Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Community Medicine from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Dr. Lobdell’s current research involves the development of environmental public health indicators that can be tracked overtime.

She leads the team that created the publicly available Environmental Quality Index (EQI) 2000-2005 for all counties in the U.S. The EQI has been used to explore how environmental quality affects health outcomes. Her research team is currently developing the EQI at the census tract level for the purpose of learning more about how various environmental factors contribute to health disparities in low-income, underrepresented minority and vulnerable populations, and to better estimate the total environmental and social context to which humans are exposed. She also has several research projects funded through the Regional Applied Research Effort that focus on the U.S. EPA’s regional research needs for communities. Dr. Lobdell has a strong research interest in the area of reproductive, perinatal, and children’s health outcomes.

Naeema Muhammad

Naeema Muhammad

Naeema Muhammad has worked as the Community Organizer for the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) since 2001, leading state-wide efforts and supporting grassroots efforts for environmental and social justice. Since 2014, she has served as Organizing Co-Director of the NCEJN. She is also a founding member of Black Workers for Justice in N.C., a community-based organization founded in 1981 that addresses workers’ rights issues.

Muhammad has worked on two National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded grants: The Community Health and Environmental Reawakening project, where she served as the Community Organizer and worked with communities adjacent to industrial hog operations; and the Community Health Effects of Industrial Hog Operations project, where she worked as the Community Organizer, Environmental Justice Educator, and Interviewer, and assisted her collaborators in qualitative data analysis. She has co-authored many publications with Dr. Steve Wing of the UNC-CH School of Public Health regarding community-based participatory research, most recently published in the New Solutions Health Journal.

Jamie Cole

Jamie Cole

Jamie ColeJamie Cole is the Policy Advocate for the N.C. Conservation Network (NCCN), specializing in Environmental Justice, Air Quality, and Materials Management Policy. Prior to joining NCCN, she was the Legal and Policy Coordinator for the N.C. NAACP where she worked under Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, helped create Moral Monday, and coordinated legal efforts for the N.C. NAACP v. McCrory voting rights case. While with the NAACP, Jamie assisted local branches seeking redress for issues spanning from injustices within public schools to environmental injustices in low-income and minority communities.

While in school, Jamie worked in Washington, D.C. in the offices of Former U.S. Representative Mel Watt, U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Jamie is originally from Baltimore, M.D. and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Spelman College and a J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law. She currently serves on the N.C. Environmental Justice Summit Planning Committee for the N.C. Environmental Justice Network.

Veronica Carter

Veronica Carter

Veronica Carter is a former national and international civil servant and retired Army officer. As a U.S. employee, Carter served as the Director of Administration and Logistics for Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, and as an international civil servant at the United Nations Headquarters, Carter worked as a Logistics Officer in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Before retiring from the Army, Carter served as a Professor of Military Science and Department Chair for Military Science (Army ROTC) under Fordham University’s College of Business Administration. She also provided instruction as Adjunct Professor at Fordham University and New York University’s (NYU) School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

As a volunteer, Carter designed, developed, and conducted training for a comprehensive social service agency specializing in empowering homeless women with offices throughout New York City. In 2008, Carter was appointed to the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission by the Governor, and she has served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Cape Fear and Brunswick Counties. She currently serves on the N.C. Coastal Federation Board of Directors, where she pursues her passion of ensuring environmental justice for all communities.

Dr. Susan Jakes

Dr. Susan Jakes

Dr. Susan JakesDr. Susan Jakes is the Associate State Program Leader for Community and Rural Development for the N.C. State Extension and an Extension Assistant Professor at N.C. State University. She specializes in program design to promote systems and community change, particularly in the areas of community engagement, strategies to find innovative solutions, economic development, diversity, leadership, local food, and collaboration.

Dr. Jakes believes that communities have the capacity to solve today’s complex community issues, and that education, leadership, and inclusion are the keys to putting that capacity to work. She received a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Community Psychology. When not partnering with communities as they articulate and develop their strength and vitality, you will find Dr. Jakes on a horse or hiking, or along with her husband, juggling the activities of their 2 high school children.

Randee Haven-O’Donnell

Randee Haven-O’Donnell

Randee Haven-O’Donnell is a life-long educator and heavily engaged community activist. She is a graduate of State University of New York at Stony Brook (B.S.) and Bank Street College of Education (M.S). She is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator and served on the Certification Committee for the N.C. Office of Environmental Education for a decade. Haven-O’Donnell is currently a Science Educator at the Durham Academy and the Academic Director and instructor at Duke Action Science Camp. Before her time at the Durham Academy, she spent over a decade with Chapel HillCarrboro City Schools as an Educator and Certified Diversity Trainer.

While Haven-O’Donnell has authored many grants and initiatives at the local and state levels, her involvement in local politics and activism in the Carrboro community is integral to her success. HavenO’Donnell has served on the Town of Carrboro Board of Alderman since 2005 and previously served as the mayor pro tempore. She led the establishment of the Carrboro Stormwater Utility and the OWASA subcommittee to address water conservation, quality, safety, and supply concerns. In 2016, she received the El Centro Hispano Gilbertson-Clark Visionary Award. Currently, she is affiliated with the Leadership Triangle, the National and North Carolina Science Teachers Associations, and the Sierra Club

Angela Esteva

Angela Esteva

Angela Esteva is the Director of Business Development for akta Pharmaceutical Development (aktaPD®) a consortium which provides seasoned C-suite experts for interim placement to help start-up, small and mid-size pharmaceutical/biotech/life science firms design, develop and commercialize their treatments for diseases and medical devices internationally and within multiple therapeutic areas.

She has dedicated her life to community service, primarily serving the American Cancer Society (ACS), as well as Nuestra Casa De Los Niños, a non-profit organization providing private school education and medical services to underprivileged children in Puerto Rico. For 12 years, she served on the American Cancer Society Board of Directors as the Hispanic media spokesperson for North Carolina, which helped her focus her work on health equity and access to medical care for minority and underserved communities in North Carolina. She also worked with N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs in a joint partnership with ACS that pairs tribes with conveniently located health care systems.

She graduated from Florida international University with a B.S. in Hospitality Management and minors in Communications and Marketing.

Jeff Anstead

Jeff Anstead

Jeff Anstead currently serves as a Commissioner on the Commission of Indian Affairs, where he is the Chair of the Commission’s Environmental Justice Subcommittee. He has been on the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Council for over nine years and is currently serving as the Vice Chief of the Tribe. He also chairs the Long Range Planning Committee and is very active at every Pow Wow. Anstead is also on the Board of Directors at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School.

He is the son of the late Deanna Anstead and the proud father of three girls. Jeff grew up in the Hollister, N.C. community, and he currently works for the Warren County School System.

Joey Owle

Joey Owle

Joey Owle is a graduate from the University of Tennessee Knoxville (B.S., Environmental and Soil Science) and North Carolina State University (M.C.S., Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture), and he currently is the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Owle is a member of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, where he also served as the Tribal Representative on the Tribal Nations Advisory Council.

Owle is heavily involved in community outreach, specifically with regards to public health and education. He worked as the Program Coordinator for Cherokee Choices, an organization focusing on diabetes prevention education, and has spoken at several universities in western North Carolina, focusing on Native health issues. Owle previously served as a Mentor and Fellow for the Jones Bowman Leadership Award Program, a member of the Cherokee Youth Council, and a member of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Patient Family Advisory Council.

Rodney S. Sadler, Jr.

Rodney S. Sadler, Jr.

Rodney S. Sadler, Jr. is a graduate of Howard University (1989, B.S. Psychology/Philosophy), Howard University School of Divinity (1992, M.Div.), and Duke University (2001, Ph.D. Hebrew Bible and Biblical Archaeology), and has also studied at Hebrew University (1990). He is an ordained Baptist minister who has served in pastoral supply roles at several Presbyterian congregations and as interim pastor at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church and Sardis Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, where he resides.

Dr. Sadler has previously served on the Board of Siegel Avenue Partners and Loaves and Fishes. He currently serves as Board President of Mecklenburg Ministries and as a Board Member of the Hispanic Summer Program, the Transformative Justice Coalition, the National Election Defense Coalition, the Voting Rights Alliance, Progress N.C., and on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina NAACP. His activism includes work with Community for Creative Non-Violence in D.C., Durham C.A.N., H.E.L.P. Charlotte, the Middle East Peace Working Group, and the U.S. Africa Ebola Working Group. He also serves in leadership roles for People Demanding Action, the Justice Action Mobilization Network, the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, the Truth Reconciliation and Anti-poverty Commission, and the Faith in Solar Project.

William Barber III

William Barber III

William Barber III is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he received the Kenan Scholarship. At North Carolina Central University, he was the first and only student to successfully graduate with the Environmental Science, Environmental Physics Concentration B.S. degree. Barber worked as a Legal Intern for Clean Energy Works in Washington, D.C., where he collaborated with Southern Environmental Law Center, Clean Energy Works, and NCAAP leadership to comprehensively review and present the PAYS inclusive financing program. He also worked as a Research Assistant for the Center for Climate, Energy, and Economics at the UNC School of Law and as a Graduate Research Assistant for Clean Water for North Carolina, focusing on natural gas pipelines.

Barber spent several years working for the North Carolina NAACP State Conference as a Field Secretary and a Moral Freedom Summer Youth and College Liaison. In 2015, Barber was the Keynote Speaker for the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network Summit. Barber was the President of North Carolina Central University’s chapter of NAACP, and received the NCCU Certificate of Recognition upon his graduation in 2013.

Marilynn Marsh-Robinson

Marilynn Marsh-Robinson

Marilynn Marsh-Robinson is the Partnership and Alliances Manager for the Environment Defense Fund, where she collaborates with diverse stakeholders to advance positive clean energy, social and economic sustainability, and energy efficiency. She was awarded three organizational environmental justice minigrants centered on Hispanic outreach. Marsh-Robinson also helped to secure the passage of state environmental legislation regarding swine farm regulations and energy efficiency measures.

Outside of her work, Marsh-Robinson has shown dedication to the environment and her community. She currently serves as a Planning Member of the N.C. Environmental Justice Network, a chair for the N.C. Conservation Network Board, and is a N.C. Notary Public. She has previously attended the N.C. Leadership Forum at Duke University, the Rural Economic Development Institute Leadership Program and the Donice M. Harbor Public Service Leadership Academy.

Carolina Fonseca Jimenez