DEP appoints 'environmental justice' director
Allison Acevedo of Philadelphia, a former strategic planning consultant and U.S. Labor Department attorney, has been appointed as the DEP’s director of environmental justice, working to ensure communication with lower-income communities that do not always have a voice in environmental issues.
“Allison’s experience working with community leaders and residents throughout the state, her passion as an entrepreneur, and her guidance as a policy advisor make her uniquely qualified to take DEP’s environmental justice program to the next level,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
DEP’s environmental justice program works to ensure that all Pennsylvanians are equipped with the proper resources and opportunities to meaningfully participate in the department’s decision-making process.
“It is an honor to work on behalf of Pennsylvania’s residents and environmental justice communities to advance environmental justice in our state,” said Acevedo. “I look forward to collaborating with community organizations and other partners to promote justice and equity in application of environmental policies, regulations and procedures in Pennsylvania.”
Acevedo operated a consultancy providing guidance on education, program development, policy and strategic planning for non-profit organizations. One of her clients included Overbrook Environmental Education Center, and she provided guidance to the Overbrook Youth Environmental Stewardship Program, focusing on youth environmental justice, community engagement and stewardship.
Prior to that, she served as education director at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey; as a staff advisor to Pennsylvania State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas and Sen. Allyson Y. Schwartz; and as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor.
She co-founded the Philadelphia Black Giving Circle, and is a member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Early Childhood Coalition. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College, and a juris doctor and master’s degree in taxation law from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.
“We are excited to work with Allison to make sure the voices of Pennsylvania’s environmental justice communities continue to be heard and understood throughout DEP, from the Secretary to the program staff,” said Adam Cutler, chairman of DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board. The 14-member board represents the interests of citizens across the state in its advisory function to the DEP secretary.
“The board looks forward to supporting Allison as the Office of Environmental Justice pursues its objectives of minimizing adverse environmental impacts in vulnerable communities, ensuring opportunities for public participation and dialogue, and fostering environmentally responsible economic development that benefits both residents and the regulated sector,” Cutler said.
An “environmental justice community” is defined one where 20 percent of more of the residents live in poverty, and/or 30 percent of more of the population is minority, based on U.S. Census Bureau data and the federal guidelines for poverty.