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 leading experts, pioneers and most respected thought leaders on environmental justice, a deeply skilled practitioner in multicultural engagement and organizational development with significant expertise in clean air and water, regulatory systems and environmental and urban planning.
Vernice consults for federal and state agencies, foundations and nonprofits. Prior to becoming a consultant, she established the environmental justice program for NRDC and initiated the environmental justice grantmaking portfolio for the Ford Foundation. Vernice has extensive experience working with communities that have undergone economic disinvestment and environmental degradation by facilitating community-based planning and implementing community revitalization and sustainable redevelopment initiatives and projects. She has the proven ability to bring unlikely partners and diverse stakeholders from all sectors together and to help find shared goals and solutions. She is trained in environmental conflict mediation, alternative dispute resolution, and how to navigate longstanding racial, cultural and economic conflicts.
Her projects have focused on sustainable community planning and design; environmental law; regulation and policy; sustainable land-use planning, brownfields revitalization and equitable redevelopment; Superfund and hazardous waste site remediation; toxic air emissions reduction; green space design and development; healthy indoor and outdoor school environments; and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the environmental sector.
Recent client work includes supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters, Chesapeake Bay and Near-ports Capacity Building programs, as well as drafting national guidance to facilitate partnership building among state and federal agencies and local organizations, the Georgetown Climate Center, Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
Vernice has served on the EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and has served on numerous state and federal environmental advisory councils including the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (where she chaired the Environmental Justice Committee). She is a prolific author and frequent speaker at conferences and convenings and is often interviewed by the media related to issues of environmental justice.
Vernice is the co-founder of WeACT for Environmental Justice and serves on its board, as well as on the boards of Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, Land Loss Prevention Project, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Action Fund, Patuxent Riverkeeper, and on the advisory boards of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Green Leadership Trust, Imani Energy and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. She was recently awarded the Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award from the Sierra Club, which recognizes individuals who have done outstanding work in the area of environmental justice.