Hyde Park Herald: 

Kimberly Neely du Buclet
Vice President
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Dear editor,

I am excited to share with you the incredible work that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) has been doing to celebrate Black History Month and promote justice and equity in our region.

Last week, MWRD hosted a panel of speakers that included some of the most influential leaders in the environmental justice space. The discussion centered on the importance of environmental justice as part of MWRD's mission to protect water quality and the communities we serve. The panel was moderated by WBEZ Data Projects Editor Alden Loury and featured speakers such as Blacks in Green™ Founder/CEO Naomi Davis, People for Community Recovery Executive Director Cheryl Johnson, SEIU Healthcare President Greg Kelley, and Faith in Place Policy/Advocacy Director Pastor Scott Onqué.

Additionally, Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, Karen Freeman-Wilson, President and CEO of The Chicago Urban League and Lolita Thompson, MWRD Environmental Justice Section Principal Civil Engineer, spoke about their work to advance environmental justice issues. We were delighted to bring together such a diverse group of voices to commemorate Black History Month and promote justice and equity in our region.

This panel discussion was just one part of a month-long series of events at the MWRD, which included raising the Pan-African flag across our facilities, hosting a community roundtable with local business leaders, and participating in a Black Creativity Career Showcase to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM.

However, we acknowledge that Black history, pride, and communities should be celebrated and uplifted year-round, not just during this month. That is why the MWRD strives to prioritize and advance environmental justice throughout the year. We focus on communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, and we actively seek out public feedback to incorporate into our project designs. Internally, we prioritize fair business practices and employment opportunities for all.

As Vice President of MWRD's Board of Commissioners, I am deeply committed to advancing environmental justice across Cook County. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, my family and I dealt with frequent flooding, which I later learned was more common in Black and Brown communities due to a history of environmental injustice. My personal experiences have informed my dedication to this cause, and I am proud to be part of an organization that shares this commitment.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our efforts to promote justice and equity, not just during Black History Month, but every day of the year.

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