It’s hard for me to talk about myself because what I really want to do is talk about all of the incredible individuals I have had the opportunity to learn from over the past six years. I have supported rural groups resisting extraction in Appalachia, worked with communities of color in the Southeast to build new economic futures, and helped build broad coalitions all across the region to fight for self-determination. I don’t think it’s possible to talk about campaigns and not mention who makes the wins possible: the communities driving and defining our work.
As the Conservation Program Coordinator, I’ll be supporting the Chapter through the Forest Watch Initiative, a program that empowers Sierra Club members to become the eyes and ears of the forest. Through member outings and an interactive campaign platform, we hope to make connections between public land issues, oil and gas infrastructure, and frontline struggles all over the state. With over 20,000 members and a long history of successful grassroots work, the Pennsylvania Sierra Club is in a strong position to push back against the dirty industries that threaten our land, water, and people.
Tom overlooking a strip mine on Black Mtn., Appalachia, Va.
Growing up the child of Mexican immigrants, I know the inherent value in resilient and diverse communities. My experience in Appalachia was as much about immigrants and manufacturing as it was mountains and riverbeds. Navigating different facets of the work — from farmers in Northeast Georgia and black landowners in the Alabama Black Belt to urban residents fighting for security and recognition — I have seen that strong communities are ones that recognize their collective power. Diversity in landscape, in issues, and in people is a value but also a challenge that must be met with compassion and understanding. I’m excited to experience everything Pennsylvania has to offer and I look forward to visiting with all of you across the state.
Conservation Program Coordinator
Forest Watch Campaign