Elizabeth C. Yeampierre is a nationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry born and raised in New York City. She is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization. Her award winning vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around just, sustainable development, environmental justice and community-led climate adaptation and community resiliency in Sunset Park. Prior to assuming the Executive Director position at UPROSE, Ms. Yeampierre was the Director of Legal Education and Training at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Director of Legal Services for the American Indian law Alliance and Dean of Puerto Rican Student Affairs at Yale University. She holds a BA from Fordham University, a law degree from Northeastern University. Elizabeth is the first Latina Chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
Ms. Yeampierre’s national leadership was formally recognized when she became the first Latina to chair the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). She worked diligently to ensure that environmental justice was incorporated into EPA rulemaking and integrated into all federal agencies. Her most recent effort led to the creation of a NEJAC workgroup dedicated to developing recommendations for resilience from storm surges for industrial waterfront communities. Ms. Yeampierre is also a member of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Advisory Council. Elizabeth advocates for the authentic engagement and leadership of communities in research in their own communities. In addition, after joining a group of national environmental justice leaders to brief the Obama transition team in 2008, Elizabeth was selected as the opening speaker at the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice.
Ms. Yeampierre’s leadership in New York emerged when she was asked to be the Chair of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. As Chair, Ms. Yeampierre was part of the New York City environmental justice leadership responsible for getting New York State’s first Brownfield legislation passed and NYC’s Solid Waste Management Plan adopted. Ms. Yeampierre helped incorporate environmental justice into the State of New York Climate Adaptation and Integration Plan. She also serves on Mayor Bloomberg’s Long Term Planning and Sustainability Advisory Board, the NYS Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Advisory Board, and was a Commissioner on the historic NYS Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission.
As a community leader, her work at UPROSE has facilitated an aggressive urban sustainability and environmental justice agenda. She created an urban forestry initiative and significantly contributed to the doubling of open space in Sunset Park. Ms. Yeampierre developed a project that resulted in the retro-fit and re-powering of 12 diesel trucks for a local business. Ms. Yeampierre successfully organized a community wide coalition and is credited for facilitating the local defeat of a 520 mega-watt power plant application. She has developed and implemented a community participatory model that has resulted in a community led greenway-blueway design for Sunset Park’s waterfront. Ms. Yeampierre’s efforts have resulted in significant public investment in Sunset Park including $8.4 million dollars for the greenway and waterfront park and an additional $36 million dollars in Brownfield remediation funds for the waterfront park (the largest brownfield grant in the history of the State of New York). At UPROSE, Elizabeth secured $1,000,000 for pollution reduction projects that are being shared and distributed throughout the community. She is a co-founder of CURE (Communities United for Responsible Energy) and OWN (Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods.)
Elizabeth was just recently named one of the top 100 Green Leaders by Poder Hispanic Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2011 National Alliance for Hispanic Health VIDA (Vision, Innovation, Dedication, and Advocacy) Award, Boricua College Professional Achievement Award in Environmental Health Award 2011, American Bar Association Commission on Hispanic Legal RIghts and Responsibilities 2011 Award, La Federacion Nacional de Pioneros Puertorriquenos Award 2010, Speaker Quinn’s 2009 NYC Council Women’s History Award: Women in Environmentalism, 2007 NRDC Earth Day New York Environmental Advocate of the Year Award, the Municipal Art Society Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award, 2007 American Planning Association Paul Davidoff Award, 2006 USEPA Region 2 Environmental Quality Award, 2006 Urban Agenda Urban Visionary Award, 2004 National Latina Leadership Award from the National Foundation of Women Legislators and its affiliate, the National Council Of La Raza, the country’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization. Ms. Yeampierre received the 2003 Asian Americans for Equality Dream of Equality Award and the Comite Noviembre Hispanic Heritage Award.
Ms. Yeampierre has been a featured speaker at forums across the United States, including Yale, Harvard, Cooper Union, Columbia, and universities, colleges and conferences all over the country. Her work is featured in several books, in addition to TIEMPO, Latina Magazine, Despierta America, and a variety of media outlets throughout the United States, LatinAmerica and Europe.