Climate Change and COVID-19: What the Pandemic Teaches Us About Preparing for Disaster

Climate Change and COVID-19: What the Pandemic Teaches Us About Preparing for Disaster

Session Type(s): Featured Panel

Starts: Thursday, Aug. 13 2:00 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Aug. 13 3:30 PM (Eastern)

We’re seeing firsthand how a lack of preparedness can exacerbate challenges like pandemics and natural disasters. The consequences are magnified even further by racial and other social injustices. If governments can put our economies on hold as a safeguard from a global threat like Covid-19, why are we unable to commit to similar measures to confront a global threat like climate change, especially when these impacts are felt most in marginalized, frontline communities?  And why should we look to them for leadership on solutions? How can the progressive community support, scale-up, and scale-out the work of organizers from these communities who represent the frontlines of the climate justice fight? Join us for a conversation about how another world isn’t just possible, but in many cases is happening, and learn more about the need for frontline solutions in an effort to address and dismantle the intersecting threats white supremacy, patriarchy, and colonization in the context of climate change and COVID.


Anthony Rogers-Wright

Anthony Rogers-Wright

Selected as one of the 50 People You’ll Be Talking About in 2016, Anthony K. Rogers-Wright has over ten years of policy analysis, community organizing and outreach/advocacy experience. While serving as a policy analyst for various environmental consulting firms in California and Colorado, he specialized in land use, Clean Air Act and environmental justice compliance. He has used his organizing and outreach experience to advocate for a variety of social justice campaigns including environmental justice, affordable health care access, income inequality and civil rights for LGBT citizens. In 2012, Anthony led the effort to make Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative the first health insurance provider in the State’s history to remove transgender health exclusions from all of their policies.

In 2016, he acted as a surrogate and policy advisor for the Sanders presidential campaign and testified on the need for increased action on climate justice to the DNC Platform Committee. He’s written numerous articles discussing the axiomatic nexus between the climate crisis and social justice, and spoken of this issue at universities throughout the United States and in Europe.

Anthony earned his undergraduate degrees in Environmental Science and Policy and Jazz Composition as well as his Graduate Degree in Community Development, Environmental Science and Public Policy.  He is blessed to be the father of his energetic, entertaining and VERY loquacious three-year old son, Zahir Cielo (aka “Bean”).

Other sessions: How Progressives Can Shape the Democrats' 2021 Climate Agenda, Designs on Democracy: Using Graphic Design to Reframe the Story and Win, Climate President: Organizing for Climate Justice through Transformative Executive Action

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Catherine Flowers


Catherine Coleman Flowers is the Rural Development Manager for the Equal Justice Initiative and founder and director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ. In ad-dition, she serves as a Duke University Franklin Humanities Institute Practitioner in Residence. Her goal is to find solutions to the lack of sanitation in many parts of rural American that rival con-ditions found in the developing world. She has characterized this as “America’s Dirty Secret.”

Her book, “Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret” will be published November 17. In the book, Flowers explores why so many rural low-income communities across the U.S. do not have access to basic sanitation, and she explains how systemic racism and prejudice hurt vulnerable communities in areas all over the country. It’s available for preorder at

Tara Houska


Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe) is a tribal attorney, founder of Giniw Collective, and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She spent six months on the frontlines fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and is currently engaged in the movement to defund fossil fuels and a years-long struggle against Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. She is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a group committed to positive representation of Native peoples.

She is a TED speaker, gave a Harvard keynote, received an “Awesome Women Award” from Melinda Gates and a Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award, is featured in “Women: A Century of Change” by National Geographic, and was named an “Icon” on the cover of Outside Magazine’s 40th Anniversary edition. Tara has contributed to the New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Indian Country Today and been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Democracy Now, and BBC. She lives in a pipeline resistance camp in Northern Minnesota.

Michelle Martinez


Michelle Martinez is a Latinx-Mestiza environmental justice activist, writer, and mother born in Detroit and raised by the Latinx Diaspora. Since 2006, she has worked in local communities of color to build power to halt climate change, and the detrimental effects of pollution in post-industrial Detroit. Working across issues of race, gender, and nationality, she has built and led coalitions using art / media, land-based programming, popular education, voter engagement, and corporate accountability tactics to shape policy solutions. In 2019 she helped organize over 2000 people in the March for the Green New Deal in Detroit Michigan during the Democratic National Debate.

Currently, she is the Statewide Coordinator for Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, which advocates for climate justice for communities disproportionately impacted by environmental toxins. Her consulting work through Third Horizon Consulting focuses on primarily on justice and equity in the environmental movement through storytelling, strategic planning, and collective decision-making. She was a 2017 Equity Fellow at Wayne State University Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights and received the Top 25 Latinx Leaders from the State of Michigan, Hispanic Latino Commission in 2019. She earned her MS in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment in 2008, now SEAS, and BA in English Literature also from University of Michigan.

Jacqui Patterson


Jacqueline Patterson is the Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Since 2007 Patterson has served as coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United. Jacqui Patterson has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, advocate and activist working on women‘s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson served as a Senior Women’s Rights Policy Analyst for ActionAid where she integrated a women’s rights lens for the issues of food rights, macroeconomics, and climate change as well as the intersection of violence against women and HIV&AIDS. Previously, she served as Assistant Vice-President of HIV/AIDS Programs for IMA World Health providing management and technical assistance to medical facilities and programs in 23 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Patterson served as the Outreach Project Associate for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Research Coordinator for Johns Hopkins University. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, West Indies.

Patterson holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Advisory Board for Center for Earth Ethics as well as on the Boards of Directors for the Institute of the Black World, The Hive: Gender and Climate Justice Fund, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, Greenpeace, Bill Anderson Fund, People’s Solar Energy Fund, and the National Black Workers Center Project.

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