Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental and climate 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.
In 2015, Ms. Yeampierre was part of the leadership of the People’s Climate March Mobilization – a march of over 400,000 people. She played a major role in ensuring the frontline was made up of young people of color, and successfully proposed the adoption of the Jemez principles for democratic organizing which have since become the road map to building just relationships in the climate movement. Elizabeth was the first Latina Chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. 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 US EPA NEJAC workgroup dedicated to developing recommendations for resilience from storm surges for industrial waterfront communities. Ms. Yeampierrealso served as member of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Advisory Council where she successfully advocated forauthentic engagement and leadership of communities in scientific 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. In September 2015, Elizabeth was one of the opening speakers at Pope Francis’s Climate Change Rally at the National Mall in Washington DC. Ms. Yeampierre is a co-founder of the BEA-I (Building Equity & Alignment for Impact) an initiative designed to strengthen strategic relationships between philanthropy, big greens and the grassroots and she also serves on the steering committees of the Solution Project and Climate Justice Alliance.
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 served 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. She currently serves on Mayor DeBlasio’s Sustainability Advisory Board.
As a community leader, her work at UPROSE has facilitated a successful, 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. The Sunset Park community celebrated the opening of a 23 acre waterfront park UPROSE championed for over 15 years. Ms. Yeampierre developed a project that resulted in the retro-fit and re-powering of 12 diesel trucks for a local business. She founded the NYC Climate Justice Youth Summit, a space where young people of color throughout the City come to learn how to engage their local communities in addressing the intersection of racial justice and climate change. Most recently, in response to the community’s request after Super Storm Sandy, Elizabeth created the Climate Justice Center-NYC’s first grassroots-led, bottom-up, climate adaptation and community resiliency planning project.
Elizabeth was named one of the top 100 Green Leaders by Poder Hispanic Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Earth Day New York& NRDC Advocate of the Year Award, 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 Federación 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 local, national and international forums including Sage Paris 2015, 2016 GRI Amsterdam, White House Forum on Environmental Justice, Yale, Harvard, Cooper Union, Columbia, and universities, colleges and conferences all over the country and spoke at the opening climate rally for Pope Francis at the National Mall. Her work is featured in several books, in addition to TIEMPO, Latina Magazine, VOGUE, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Grist, American Prospect, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, Despierta America, and a variety of media outlets throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe.