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Addressing the Burden of Air Pollution
Thursday, February 10, 2022, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PST
Category: Events

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A panel of air quality specialists illuminating how pollution is inequitably distributed toward marginalized communities and strategizing how to address this injustice.


  • Standard ticket: $15
  • This event is complimentary for all WCS members. No promo codes needed.
  • Refer to the membership options here. Become a member here.
  • All registrants will receive access to a recording of the event.

Air pollution is a sounding alarm for immediate climate action. Typically BIPOC communities are the most affected as they are more likely to live in counties with higher exposure to particulate pollution.

For this panel, Women in Cleantech and Sustainability focuses on the San Joaquin Valley as a case study of the impacts of air pollution on a local community. This region is the biggest produce grower in the US and has been referred to as the place with the worst air pollution in America. San Joaquin Valley demographic is currently 40.5% latinx, 14% asian, and 6.7% black/african american. These underserved populations face hardship related to access to clean water and negative consequences in deterioration of health due to air pollution.

WCS brings together the perspectives of Jessica Olsen, San Joaquin Valley Air Quality District, Kieshaun White, youth leader in air pollution, and Dr. Lupita Montoya, expert in indoor air quality and aerosol science, to address the inequities they have seen in their community and what must be done to remove this health risk for good. Come join WCS as we discuss how to address air pollution and its inquitable effects on marginalized communities.

Event Agenda (times in PT):

  • 12:00 - 12:02 Arrival and Introductions 
  • 12:02 - 12:05 Zoom etiquette, housekeeping items 
  • 12:05 - 12:30 Panel Discussion
  • 12:30 - 12:55 Q&A from the audience
  • 12:55 - 1:00 Thank you and wrap-up

 

Kieshaun White

Speaker

Environmental Justice Advocate, Celsblock

Kieshaun White of Southwest Fresno is one of the remarkable youth leaders from this cohort who has made a measurable impact in his community. He attributes his success to the program’s mentors and unique tools and resources offered to participants. Read his story and interview below:

My name is Kieshaun White. I was born on the Southwest side of Fresno, California, where one in four young people have asthma. I am that one. 

Since I couldn’t do a lot of activities outside, I stayed inside and fell in love with the Science Channel. When I turned 13, I got in contact with my amazing mentor, Marcel Woodruff, and he introduced me to Fresno Boys and Men of Color program where they taught me how to advocate for my community and to speak in front of large crowds. During my freshman year of high school, my mentors, Francisco Espinoza and Marcel Woodruff, told me to apply for the Pollination Project impact grant, which is a grant that engages youth to use their passion and their love for their community to create a project. I used the Pollination Project grant to purchase a drone and a purple air quality monitor and started to test the air at schools around Fresno. 

At first I didn’t know that there was a 25-year life expectancy difference between the northern part of Fresno (a historically white community) and the southwest side of Fresno, but as I conducted my experiments and collected data, the disparity in air quality became clear. After that, I received a $10,000 grant from Youth Leadership Institute to expand my project, so I partnered with the Fresno Unified School District to put air quality monitors up in every high school in the district. We also built an app so that people can get up-to-the-minute hyper local air quality information.

Jessica Olsen

Speaker

Director of Community Strategy and Resources, San Joaquin Valley Air District

Jessica Olsen has been with the Valley Air District for a total of 6 years.  In 2018, Jessica spent one year at Eglin Air Force Base as an Air Force Research Lab contractor before returning to the District as the Program Manager overseeing air quality modeling, monitoring, research and analysis. In her current role as the District’s first Director of Community Strategies and Resources, Jessica oversees the District’s implementation of the Community Air Protection Program under California Assembly Bill 617 (AB 617) as well as other community-based clean air efforts. Jessica received her BS in Bioengineering from UCLA in 2011, her MS in Biomedical Engineering from UC Irvine in 2014, and was promoted to “mommy” in October 2020.

Dr Lupita Montoya

Speaker

Research Affiliate at University of Colorado at Boulder

Dr. Lupita D. Montoya is an expert in Indoor Air Quality and Aerosol Science. She earned a BS degree in Engineering from California State University Northridge, as well as a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She conducted extensive postdoctoral training in Environmental Health at the State University of New York and at Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Montoya is a first-generation Latinx scholar, who conducts multidisciplinary research that addresses, among other things, environmental and health impacts of indoor air pollution, especially in low-income communities in the US and abroad. She is also an ardent advocate for environmental and social justice.

Kirpa Grewal

Moderator

Business Development & Strategy, Sustainable Brands

Kirpa is a climate reality leader committed to sustainability, social and environmental innovation. She joined Sustainable Brands to shift the economy towards increased sustainable development practices for a greener and more just future. Kirpa brings a diverse background of experience to the team as an environmentalist, climate scientist, humanitarian, consultant, and speaker. 

Kirpa is a San Francisco Bay Area native and a graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies. She recently graduated with master’s in MSc. Hydrology and Water Security from the University of Oklahoma. She enjoys conducting scientific research (focus in hydrology), climate stewardship, gardening, hiking, scuba diving, biking, writing, live music, and adventuring in nature.

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