Catherine Coleman Flowers is an internationally recognized environmental activist, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, and author. She has dedicated her life’s work to advocating for environmental justice, primarily equal access to clean water and functional sanitation for communities across the United States.
Founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), Flowers has spent her career promoting equal access to clean water, air, sanitation, and soil to reduce health and economic disparities in marginalized, rural communities. In addition, Flowers serves as Rural Development Manager for Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), is a Board Member for the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and sits on the Board of Directors for the Climate Reality Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Flowers is also Co-Chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on Accelerating Climate Action, an advisor to the JPB Foundation and Practitioner in Residence at Duke University.
In 2021, her leadership and fervor in fighting for solutions to these issues led her to one of her most notable appointments yet — Vice Chair of the Biden Administration’s inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Flowers was also named Levenick Resident Scholar in Sustainable Leadership at the University of Illinois for the spring 2021 and was awarded an honorary PhD in science from Wesleyan University.
As the author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, Flowers shares her inspiring story of advocacy, from childhood to environmental justice champion. She discusses sanitation and its correlation with systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that affects people across the United States. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Guardian, and on PBS.