The Connecticut Green Bank invites you to join us as we explore the Renewable Energy of Community in our 2021 webinar series! Over the next year, we will hear from guests that touch on topics such as clean energy policy, financial innovation, social justice and cleantech advances. Be a part of our community by joining the conversation. (Recordings of previous webinars can be accessed here.)
Thursday, July 22 • 12 – 1:30 pm EST
History of Environmental Justice in America and the Frontlines of Climate Justice Today in Connecticut
Special Moderator: Lonnie Reed, Connecticut Green Bank Chair
Deeohn Ferris, President & CEO of Institute for Sustainable Communities
Deeohn Ferris, JD, is the first African American woman to be named President of a US-based international climate change and sustainability organization. She leads the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a global capacity builder and technical assistance provider whose objectives are facilitating community and local leadership in decision making and investments, embedding racial, economic and social equity in environmental and climate change solutions, and forging public-private partnerships. She is an environmental and racial justice practitioner and systems change expert whose experience is rooted in meeting the needs of people of color, under-represented communities, and the institutions and stakeholders that are closest to the issues.
Deeohn is an environmental lawyer whose interdisciplinary career intersects government, industry, the public interest, and human and civil rights. Her experience in defining and leading initiatives that prioritize under-served population groups is reinforced by her business perspective and foundational knowledge of nonprofit operations and strategy. She possesses a wealth of acumen championing fairness, equity and justice with appointed and elected officials, executives, philanthropists, and academicians.
Deeohn’s environmental legal knowledge and policy expertise were instrumental to establishing and growing the worldwide renown of the environmental justice field. She was on the forefront, working with Congress to convene the first-ever House and Senate hearings, delivering testimony, and representing grassroots communities before the public, the media, federal agencies, and the United Nations. She facilitated the innovative national campaign during the Clinton Administration that resulted in the environmental justice call-to-action, Presidential Executive Order 12898. She broke new ground advocating novel analysis and strategies, coordinating with the White House, the Domestic Policy Council, and prominent stakeholder groups and associations.
Deeohn has launched and led equity centered initiatives and programs, combining local impact and national reach, for communities, networks, partnerships and agencies, and for mayors, legislators, foundations, and nonprofits. Her interdisciplinary background includes leadership roles with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the American Insurance Association, the National Wildlife Federation, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Washington Office on Environmental Justice, and the National Audubon Society. She is also formerly the CEO of Sustainable Community Development Group, a boutique woman-owned consulting firm.
Deeohn has extraordinary experience working with civil society, communities of color, Tribes and indigenous peoples, faith based organizations, and governments on five continents, lecturing and working in China, Turkey, South Africa, Nepal, India, Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil, Fiji, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, throughout the U.S. and North
America. She has trained judges and lawyers in Southeast Asia, and counseled NGOs engaged in the World Social Forum and United Nations conferences around the globe. She is a nationally recognized provider of technical savvy that tackles integrating racial equity, sustainability and the engagement of under-represented, often culturally stratified populations. A popular speaker, she is the recipient of many achievement awards. Her public service includes numerous federal committees and boards.
Lonnie Reed, Chair of Connecticut Green Bank
Lonnie Reed serves as the Chair of the Green Bank’s Board of Directors. Ms. Reed brings significant experience in environmental policy leadership, job creation, and a deep understanding of the climate challenges facing Connecticut.
Reed served in the Connecticut State House of Representatives for five terms, from 2009 to 2019, before choosing not to run for reelection. As a State Rep for District 102 (Branford), Reed was Co-Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Life Sciences Caucus, a member of the Manufacturer’s Caucus and of the Shoreline Preservation Task Force. She also served on the Bi-State NY & CT Long Island Sound Committee and helped lead the successful battle to stop Broadwater, a floating liquefied natural gas plant with a 22-mile pipeline proposed for Long Island Sound.
During her first year in elective office, Representative Reed was selected as one of 40 promising state legislative leaders from across the nation for the prestigious Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by the National Council of State Governments (CSG). She became a leader on CSG’s Energy & Environment Committee where she promoted and helped facilitate more regional co-operation among New England and northeast states on energy and environmental issues and related economic challenges.
Prior to entering elective politics, Ms. Reed was an award-winning newspaper journalist, television news correspondent, and anchor for television stations including WFSB, Hartford and WNEW, NY, and also a contributing correspondent to CBS News. She has been a White House correspondent, hosted Off the Set, a political talk show in NY, and been honored for her investigative reports. As a small business owner, she and her partners have operated a film-making and television production company.
Ms. Reed was appointed as Green Bank Chair in October 2019 by Governor Ned Lamont.
John Harrity, Chair of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
John Harrity was the former President of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists – the electoral and legislative advocacy organization for more than 10,000 active and retired Machinists Union (IAM) members in Connecticut. The International Association of Machinists represents hourly workers at some of the state’s largest industrial employers, including Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand, Electric Boat and Stanley Works, as well as a number of non-industrial worksites.
John is also the Chair of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.
John also directs a program called GrowJobsCT – an alliance of labor, business and community interests, along with concerned public officials, who work to find common ground on the retention and expansion of manufacturing jobs in the state. GrowJobsCT has been active for the past seven years, and is recognized for helping find common sense steps to proactively improve the business climate for manufacturers in Connecticut.
John has worked full-time for the International Association of Machinists since first being elected a Business Representative in 1986. Over the past 27 years, John has also served Connecticut members of the IAM as Communications Director, Legislative Coordinator and Organizer, and has participated in more than 19 contract negotiations with United Technologies Corporation.
John is a member of the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, and serves as co-convener of CETC’s Advanced Manufacturing Work Group. John is also a member of the board of the Workforce Alliance, is participating in the recently-convened Clean Energy Taskforce exploring a renewable energy R&D center at the Norwich Hospital site, and is a co-founder of the Connecticut Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Coalition.
John began working at Pratt & Whitney as a vertical turret lathe operator in 1979. He has a master’s degree in Union Leadership and Administration from the University of Massachusetts (2010) and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Connecticut (1975).
John’s wife, Cindy Harrity, is an organizer with CWA Local 1298. They live in East Hartland, CT. They have three children and two grandchildren.
Geraldo Reyes, State Representative, Deputy Speaker and Chair to the Black Puerto Rican Caucus
Geraldo Reyes Jr. represents the 75th Assembly District of Waterbury in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Rep. Reyes currently serves as Deputy Speaker and is the 2021-22 Chair to the Black Puerto Rican Caucus in the Capitol. In his community, Reyes has been District leader for the Democratic Town Committee’s 75th District over the past 8 years.
Rep. Reyes has a long record of involvement in his town and has dedicated his career to the prosperity of the people of Waterbury. The representative has strong community ties along with great relations across non-profits and community organizations. Reyes has participated in several grassroots projects including: developing and planning “The Gathering” – the largest multi-cultural festival in New England, celebrating a wide array of cultures, art, music with over 100 countries. He played a pivotal role in bringing and developing the semi-pro football team, the Brass City Brawlers, to Waterbury. That football team went on to win a Single A National Championship in Deland Florida in 2015 and again in 2016, Waterbury’s first two Semi-Pro Championships! Rep. Reyes is most rewarded spiritually for his outreach work with the community’s homeless population.
Recent developments professionally are: the completion of ESL Leadership, Henry Toll Fellowship, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, BHCC Associates, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislator Leadership. He is a current board member of the God Provides Ministries, RIBA Aspira Inc, Biden for Clean Energy Comm., and Vice President of SALSA League.
In recent years Reyes has served on: Greater Waterbury NAACP Executive Board, the Neighborhood Housing Services Executive Board, the Loyola Development Executive Board, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury Executive Board, and the SALSA, Inc. Board of Directors.
Rep. Reyes has received countless community service awards, including: the Waterbury Observer’s Best Community Activist for 7 years running from 2014-2020, LUPA’s 2014 Top 50 Most Influential Latinos in Connecticut; CT Parent Power’s 2014 Parent and Community Service, Latino de Oro Politician of Year 2018, Leadership and Trailblazer Award in 2017. 2019 CT League of Conservation Environmental Champion, CT Energy solutions Environmental Champion.
The Waterbury Representative graduated from Crosby High School and Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology Management. He also holds an associate degree in Industrial Technology from Waterbury State Technical College.
Representative Reyes resides in Waterbury with his wife, Hilda and is especially proud of his daughters; Cassandra Reyes and Cristina Reyes Kingsbury along with her little family (Mat, Julian & Veda).
Brenda Watson, Executive Director of Operation Fuel
Brenda Watson is the Executive Director of Operation Fuel, Inc. a statewide non-profit that provides energy and utility assistance to struggling, low- to moderate-income households. The non-profit provides assistance with all home energy sources, including water utilities and the replacement of home systems. Watson’s professional career spans 20 years in the areas of transportation planning, municipal government, community organizing, program planning, as well as development and fundraising.
Operation Fuel has one simple goal: to reduce the home energy and water utility burden of low- and moderate-income Connecticut residents. Watson leads her team toward this goal in a variety of ways, primarily through the distribution of emergency assistance grants to households in need, amplifying weatherization and ensuring greater access to clean energy particularly for low- and moderate-income populations. Once only a cold weather program, Operation Fuel now provides utility assistance grants year-round. The organization’s long-term strategy is to work with state leaders, the private energy sector and community organizations; achieve equitable approaches to delivering affordable and renewable home energy; and manage our water resources, all with a focus on health and the environment.
Watson serves on the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Board, Water Planning Commission-Advisory Group, The Low Income Energy Advisory Board, Connecticut Green Bank Board and the Energy Efficiency Board.
Watson has Bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Florida Memorial University and a Master’s degree in public policy from Trinity College.
Tuesday, August 10 • 12 – 1 pm EST
After a busy 2021 Legislative session, join our panel of experts to hear about the bills that passed and what they mean for Connecticut’s green economy. More details to come.