Press Release: Green 2.0 Congratulates Aaron Mair, First African American Elected as President of the Sierra Club

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Green 2.0 Congratulates Aaron Mair, First African American Elected as

President of the Sierra Club

 

Washington, D.C.Green 2.0, which works to advance diversity in the mainstream environmental movement, congratulates Aaron Mair on his election as president of the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s largest and oldest environmental organizations. Mair will be the organization’s first African American president in its 123 year history. Green 2.0 applauds the Sierra Club for its efforts to improve diversity and inclusion at the highest levels of its leadership.

“We founded Green 2.0 to manifest a more diverse and inclusive environmental movement. I congratulate Mr. Mair and the Sierra Club on this historic election as the organization’s first African American president. I am certain that with Mair in this role, the ‘green ceiling’ will continue to crack,” said Green 2.0 Founder Robert Raben.

Mair, a 31-year veteran of environmental activism, has dedicated his life’s work to civil rights and urban environmental advocacy. Mair served as the former chair of the 41,000-member New York State Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and was the recipient of the EPA’s Citizen Environmentalist Activist Award. His extensive experience includes working as an epidemiological disease mapping expert at the New York State Department of Health. Between 1984 and 1994 Mair led an historic grassroots-organized, environmental justice effort that led to the shutdown of the Albany-New York State Waste to Energy Recovery System (A.N.S.W.E.R.S.) that was negatively impacting the health of his family and inner-city African American residents. The $1.6 million settlement was one of the largest for a minority community in the state’s history.  Mr. Mair donated all proceeds to the Arbor Hill community in Albany, New York. Additionally, Mr. Mair’s critique in a successful lawsuit against the City of Albany highlighted the disproportionate use of eminent domain on property owned by people of color and was cited in environmental committee hearings held by the House of Representatives.

“This development is very encouraging since we know that it is key to have commitment from all the top executives at an organization to produce successful efforts to improve diversity and inclusion. We congratulate Aaron Mair on being elected as the first African American president of the Sierra Club,” said Green 2.0 Executive Director Danielle Deane.

Mair’s election comes at a time of heightened focus on diversity among mainstream environmental organizations. The 2014 release of the “Diversity in Environmental Institutions” report, commissioned by Green 2.0 and written by Professor Dorceta Taylor, found that although people of color now account for almost 40% of the U.S. population, they have not broken the 16% “green ceiling” in mainstream environmental organizations, the foundations that fund them, and governmental agencies. When looking deeper into the executive leadership of mainstream environmental NGOs, the report found that people of color only represent 5% of total board members, and only 12% of leadership positions.

Last month, on Green 2.0’s Earth Day press call, the Sierra Club was highlighted as one of two dozen leading green organizations that heeded the call to share their diversity data and strategies, via the data transparency platform on the GuideStar exchange. The Green 2.0 infographic noted that the Sierra Club has taken concrete efforts to improve diversity and inclusion internally, including putting in place a diversity committee, diversity manager, and a diversity plan.

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