executive vice president
If you wanna fly, you got to give up the things that weigh you down.— Toni Morrison
Vernice is one of the nation’s pioneering and most respected thought leaders on environmental justice and the interplay of civil rights and environmental policy.
Vernice has vast experience as a civil rights and environmental policy analyst and advocate; consultant for federal and state agencies, foundations and nonprofits; environmental program manager and foundation program officer. She was a contributing author to the landmark report “Toxic Waste and Race in the United States.” This inspired her to go on to help build a social movement that is rooted at the intersection of race, environment, economics, social justice and public health. The Sierra Club recently awarded Vernice the Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award.
Her key areas of expertise include:
- Community and public engagement in policy and decision-making
- Organizational capacity building and leadership development
- Environmental conflict mediation and alternative dispute resolution
- Partnership building among public agencies and communities
- Community-based planning, revitalization and sustainable redevelopment initiatives
- Navigation of longstanding racial, cultural and economic conflicts
- Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
- Clean air, water and hazardous waste regulatory systems
- Environmental and urban planning, green space design and development
- Senior advisor for Environmental Justice and Equitable Development, Skeo Solutions
- First program officer for Environmental Justice, Ford Foundation
- Founding director, Environmental Justice Initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Cofounder, WeACT for Environmental Justice
- Research and production assistant, United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice
- Contributing author, “Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States” research report
- Kellogg National Leadership Fellow – Group XVI
Barnard College, Columbia University School of General Studies
Revson Fellow, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning
Vernice has brought her expertise to a wide range of boards and advisory bodies such as the U.S. EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Environmental Finance Advisory Board, Clean Water Action, Land Loss Prevention Project, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund, Patuxent Riverkeeper, WeACT for Environmental Justice, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Green Leadership Trust and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum.
Vernice grew up in a bi-national family that was based in both the Bahamas and the historic Harlem community of New York City. She draws her strength from spending time with her family in the Bahamas, as well as from the local cuisine, magical beaches and 11 first cousins and their families. She loves to sing, cook for friends and family, paint, travel (before COVID-19) and engage in political debates.