Dr. White-Newsome will help lead and coordinate the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to address environmental injustices
Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced the appointment of Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome to be CEQ’s Senior Director for Environmental Justice. Dr. White-Newsome succeeds Dr. Cecilia Martinez as the second person to ever hold this position in the White House as President Biden has prioritized environmental justice across every level of government. In this historic role, Dr. White-Newsome will advise Chair Mallory on environmental justice policy and help advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s bold and historic commitment to leverage the force of the full federal government in advancing environmental justice.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Dr. White-Newsome has tackled environmental challenges from a wide range of positions and perspectives, including in the grassroots environmental justice movement, environmental philanthropy, state government, private industry, and academia.
Most recently, Dr. White-Newsome founded and led Empowering a Green Environment and Economy, LLC (EGE2), a strategic consulting firm that focused on transforming communities by using people-centered solutions to combat climate change, improve public health, pursue environmental justice, and advance racial equity. Through EGE2, she and her team worked with a variety of institutions across the public and private sector to create policies, practices, and partnerships to better serve the needs of low-income communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities.
“Jalonne is a strong and effective champion for communities that have been overburdened by pollution and subjected to decades of environmental injustice,” said CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory. “Jalonne’s ability to listen deeply, bring people together, and find creative solutions will be invaluable as we work to deliver on President Biden’s promise of environmental justice for all.”
Since President Biden took office, CEQ and the Biden-Harris Administration have been mobilizing the first-ever whole-of-government strategy for confronting environmental injustice. This strategy includes working to reduce environmental pollution in overburdened communities, ensuring that the benefits of Federal climate change and clean energy investments reach disadvantaged communities, and that the voices, perspectives, and lived experiences of environmental justice communities are heard in the White House and reflected in policies and decision-making across government.
“It is truly an honor to join the CEQ team and work in an Administration that is committed to advancing environmental justice for all people,” said White-Newsome. “We have a wonderful opportunity to institutionalize practices that will not only change lives, but save lives. I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves to expand the number of environmental justice champions inside the walls of our Agencies, while continuing to listen and work collaboratively with environmental justice leaders in communities across this country.”
In addition to Dr. White-Newsome’s appointment as Senior Director for Environmental Justice, Chair Mallory today announced the promotion of Corey Solow from Deputy Director for Environmental Justice to Director for Environmental Justice. Solow will work with Dr. White-Newsome to coordinate and lead CEQ’s environmental justice policy work, including by supporting the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative across government, helping develop an environmental justice scorecard, updating the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, and advancing other key policy, research, and data initiatives.
Dr. White-Newsome joins a CEQ team that also recently added Senior Advisor to the Chair Amanda Aguirre, whose duties include building environmental justice resources and capacity at CEQ, and Director for Public Engagement Jessica Ennis, whose responsibilities include ensuring that overburdened and underserved communities are included and heard in decisions that affect them.
Prior to creating EGE2, Dr. White-Newsome was a Senior Program Officer at the Kresge Foundation and created the Climate Resilience and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) Initiative, the first, national grantmaking initiative focused at the intersection of climate change and water inequity. She also served as the first Director of Federal Policy for WE ACT for Environmental Justice, managing their federal policy office in Washington, D.C. She also provided leadership for the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change, a national coalition of environmental justice leaders. Dr. White-Newsome’s early environmental justice advocacy started in her work as a chemical engineer in private industry and remains a critical dimension of her research and advocacy related to air pollution, extreme heat, and flooding, focused on improving the health of low-income, communities of color.
“This position brings my work and passions full circle,” says White-Newsome. “I witnessed early in my personal life and professional career the consequences of valuing profits over people that has unfortunately resulted in a legacy of environmental injustices across our country. However, we have an opportunity to create a new legacy. It will not be easy, but the critical and urgent work that the Biden-Harris Administration has undertaken is moving us closer to making environmental justice a reality.”
Dr. White-Newsome earned a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Southern Methodist University, a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University, and a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. She is a lecturer at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and has been recognized by Grist and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters for her environmental justice advocacy. In 2022, she was named the Crains Detroit Most Notable Leader in Sustainability.