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Centering Racial Justice and Health Equity: The Power of Communities to Drive Climate Policy and Practice

CCHE Spring 2023 Convening

The Climate Change, Health & Equity Initiative 2023 Spring Convening, “Centering Racial Justice and Health Equity: The Power of Communities to Shift Climate Policy and Practice,” held April 17-19, 2023 in San Diego, California, brought together grantees and partners from across the initiative to reconnect with one another and to share more about the powerful work taking place across the initiative at the intersection of climate change, health, and equity.

Below you’ll find event details, session summaries, presentations, photos and other resources.

In addition to the information on this page, you’ll find participant bios and details about the CCHE cohort in our program guide.


Email Jaime Love at [email protected].

Schedule & Agenda

April 17-19, 2023
Monday, April 17

Travel Day

COVID Safety Screening Check In

6 p.m.

Welcome Reception and Dinner

6-9 p.m.

Keynote speaker: Rip Rapson, president and CEO, The Kresge Foundation

Tuesday, April 18

Registration and COVID Safety Screening Check-In

7 – 9 a.m.


8 – 9 a.m.

Opening Keynote

9 – 10 a.m.

Speaker: Mustafa Santiago Ali, Executive Vice President, The National Wildlife Federation 

Concurrent Session A: Get Ready for Your Closeup: News Media and Camera-Readiness Workshop

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Speakers: Rob Sassor and Debra Clark, Metropolitan Group 

This news media training will explore what news media look for, their context, the basics of media relations and other core considerations across the arc of identifying your story, pitching and placing it. Since so many leaders within the CCHE community are already expert resources for journalists, we will also conduct a practicum—led by Vernice Miller-Travis—for how to be “camera-ready.” Bring your own phone or camera if you have one, and be ready for an interactive session that will give you the chance for your own mock close-up, if you wish.

Concurrent Session B: Mapping as Storytelling

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Speakers:  Angelica Chavez Duckworth, Greenlink 

Concurrent Session C: Cultural Storytelling

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Speakers: Na-Taki Osborne Jelks and Emi Yoko-Young, Race Forward 


12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Off-Site Learning Tours

1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Site visits options include:

Environmental Justice, Gentrification and Reclaiming Communities
San Diego County is home to communities that are among the most vulnerable to pollution in the state. This mobile workshop will take us through Barrio Logan, one of the region’s most striking examples of how low- income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by capitalist-driven, and often racist, planning approaches. This community exemplifies the power of organizing for environmental justice — efforts that celebrate a vibrant cultural identity and achieve healthy, art-filled, reclaimed communities. We’ll experience the highlights of this cultural gem, as well as observe the immense impact of global trade at the Port of San Diego. We’ll also examine how the forces of gentrification and displacement are adding to the challenges of this environmental justice neighborhood.

Transit & Inclusive Economies
According to The Housing and Transportation Affordability Index San Diego, moderate-income families pay an average of 67% of their household income towards housing and transportation expenses alone. This rate rises sharply for low-income San Diego households; simultaneously, 70% of the jobs in San Diego County are not reachable by transit. This mobile workshop with an eye on regional mass transit issues will take participants through rapidly gentrifying City Heights, San Diego’s most racially diverse neighborhood and a community-organizing powerhouse. We will hear from members of the San Diego Transportation Equity Working Group, a coalition of community-based organizations pushing for policies and infrastructure to transform San Diego’s mass transit system into one that is affordable and efficient particularly for low income communities of color. We will also hear from transportation planners whose dramatic shift towards meaningful community engagement has been key in advancing community driven solutions.

Food for Power
Our Food for Power mobile workshop will explore ways urban agriculture and mutual aid efforts can fight isolation and hunger, and help communities become more empowered, vibrant and healthy. In a region that is one of the nation’s top refugee resettlement destinations and with a high percent of immigrant families and communities from throughout the world, food takes on an important cultural and social significance that can underlie new Americans’ transitions to life in this country.

Growing inequity and food apartheid limit the resources and access families have to healthy foods. One in three people in San Diego County is nutrition insecure and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated already existing food injustices. Of those struggling to put healthy meals on their table, 28% were newly nutrition insecure in 2020. Ironically, those that put the food on our tables are also more likely to struggle to feed their own families. We will hear how community residents have stepped forward to ensure their most vulnerable neighbors have access to healthy and nutritious food.

The Border, Climate Change, and People on the Move
Climate change affects us all, but without a doubt, those most impacted globally are the most vulnerable countries and communities. Extreme weather events, prolonged droughts, sea-level rise, and natural resource limitations force an average of more than 20 million people to leave their homes annually. The impacts of climate change intensifies already existing political tensions and conflicts, creating a threat multiplier for the most at-risk. For the climate refugees arriving to the San Diego-Tijuana border, an uncertain future awaits. During this visit, you’ll see the border and explore the connections between climate change, ecological resiliency and immigration. Hear from experts on extirpation and extinction pressures to native flora and fauna. Learn about the migrant experience and what the changing policy landscape means for people on the move. Learn why, no matter where you live, the border matters to you.

Off-Site Group Dinner

7 – 10 p.m.

Bali Hai
South Pacific Room
2230 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA

Wednesday, April 19

Registration and COVID Safety Screening Check In

7 – 9 a.m.


8 – 9 a.m.

Concurrent Session A: What’s Your Policy Game? Strategy That Works to Move Climate Policy

9 – 10:30 a.m.

Moderator: Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Highlander Center
Speakers: Elizabeth Frentzel, Essential Hospitals; Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Esperanza Community Housing (PSR-LA partner); and Samantha Hamilton, PHIWM

Having a political strategy is critical in moving towards equitable solutions. What are the ways you can step up your policy game to advance climate and health equity? In this session we will hear from Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Highlander Center on the importance of political strategy. Panelists will highlight their policy wins, advocacy efforts, how they built coalitions and engaged with elected officials and decisions-makers.

Concurrent Session B: Track that! Developing climate and health equity metrics to inform policy strategy

9 – 10:30 a.m.

Moderator: Dr. Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland
Speakers: Jenna Cramer, Green Building Alliance; Carmen Cavezza, CEER

Determining the right tools and data to measure your progress and success can be a key piece of telling the story that will help advance your policy strategy. In this session, Dr. Sacoby Wilson will share various strategies to gather and analyze data, and help grantees workshop ideas and challenges they may be facing.

Concurrent Session C: Building Partnerships That Last: Advancing Climate Justice at the State and Local Levels

9 – 10:30 a.m.

Moderator: Erica Browne, Kresge Foundation
Speakers: Zelalem Adefris, Catalyst Miami; Lisa Patel, Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health; Katherine Catalano, APHA; and Melissa Jones, BARHII

Strong partnerships are crucial to address the complex issues of climate change and health. This session will examine promising practices of how organizations at the nexus of health and community work together to advocate for equity-centered climate policies.

Concurrent Session D: Ecosystems and Power Mapping

9 – 10:30 a.m.

Speakers: PCIC 


10:30 – 10:45 a.m.

Story to Strategy Session

10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Speakers: People’s Climate Innovation Center and Ross Strategic

Storytellers will share stories and participants write down questions and themes from stories. After storytellers finish, participants will ask questions and help build the story-to-strategy map.


12 – 1 p.m.

Closing Keynote and Panel: The Power of Communities to Move Policy in Action

12 – 1:30 p.m.

Keynote Speaker: Makani N. Themba, Chief Strategist, Higher Ground Change Strategies
Panel: Vernice Miller-Travis, Met Group; Meishka Mitchell, Emerald Cities Collaborative; and Lovinia Reynolds, UPROSE

Makani N. Themba, chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies, will talk about the importance of storytelling to drive policy strategy. She will be followed by a closing keynote panel of climate justice leaders who will engage in a conversation around systems change and effective strategies for building capacity to advance policy and leverage funding.

Optional Programming

1:30 – 3 p.m.

Session A: Networking

Session B: CCHE Advisory Committee Meeting

Session C: Let’s Talk Social: Speed Round Edition

When it comes to social media, we all have different relationships with it. For some, it feels transactional; for others, it feels fun! Wherever you find yourself, you’re not alone — we’ve heard you and understand your social media needs vary, so why cover one topic when we can cover many? Join us for some speed rounds: social media style, where we will have a series of short conversations on various topics such as social media advocacy, content development, TikTok and more.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali

National Wildlife Federation
Executive Vice President

Makani N. Themba

Higher Ground Change Strategies
Chief Strategist

Photo Gallery

Related Resources

CCHE Grantee Resources

Opening Keynote: Making Policy Move: The Importance of Storytelling in Moving Climate Agendas
Session Notes

Session: Track that! Developing climate and health equity metrics to inform policy strategy
Presentation: Carmen Cavezza, senior climate justice community organizer, CEER
Presentation: Jenna Cramer, president and CEO, Green Building Alliance

Day 1 Session: Ready for your close-up: News media and camera-readiness workshop Presentation: Rob Sassor, Vernice Miller Travis, Metropolitan Group 
Session Notes

Day 1 Session: The Art of Narrative Change: From Data to Action Workshop
Session Notes

Day 1 Session: Not Your Traditional Policy Approach Grassroots Redefining Healthy
Session Notes

Day 2 Session: What’s Your Policy Game? 
Session Notes

Day 2 Session: Track That! Developing Climate and Health Equity Metrics to Inform Policy Strategy
Session Notes

Day 2 Session: Mapping Story to Strategy
Session Notes

Day 2 Session: Building Partnerships that Last: Advancing Climate Justice at the State and Local Levels
Session Notes

Day 2 Session: Mapping Our Ecosystem
Session Notes

Day 2 Session: Let’s talk social: Speed round edition 
Presentation: Debra Clark, Metropolitan Group 
Session Notes

Keynote and Panel: The power of communities to move policy in action
Presentation:  Emerald Cities Collaborative, Meishka Mitchell
Presentation: Insights from collaboration with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Vernice Miller Travis
Session Notes