"Ecology is a Sistah's Issue too" -Shamara Shantu Riley
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I look forward to connecting with you! Please contact me if you are interested in opportunities for collaboration and consulting.
2013 Urban Greenspace Accessibility Research at Georgia State University, 2010 Modeling Upper Tropospheric Ozone at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), 2019 Poor People's Campaign Rally in Baton Rouge, and 2012 US EPA Region 4 Environmental Justice Conference
2019 Community Conversation on Climate Change at Global Green Center in Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans (pictured left to right: Ms. Marlene Pete (Sankofa), Ms. Cynthia Guillemet (L9 SNS Community Researcher & Lower Nine Homeowner Association), Ms. Kim Chapital (Deep South Center for Environmental Justice), Ms. Angela Chalk (Water Wise Gulf South & Healthy Community Services), Ms. Marilyn Amar (Gordon Plaza Resident and Community Activist) and Ms. Frances Roberts-Gregory (Tulane/BECNO lecturer and UCB PhD Candidate)
I have a truly interdisciplinary academic and professional background that informs the way I approach "wicked" environmental problems, promote civic engagement, and communicate across epistemic divides. I studied environmental science for four years as an undergraduate at Spelman College before adding sociology and anthropology to my course curriculum during my fifth year. This means that I have an extensive background in both quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as geospatial technologies. As an environmental science major, I modeled upper tropospheric ozone using supercomputers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under the SOARS program, conducted participatory action research (PAR) and ethnobotanical research with Louisiana Indigenous communities, conducted ethnographic and survey research with Black farmers and vegetarians, used a community geography framework to assess greenspace accessibility at the Beecher Hills Lionel Hampton Nature Preserve, and used GIS to study erosion potential at Providence Canyon Park in Lumpkin, Georgia. I also graduated with an unofficial food justice minor and paved the way for the current food studies minor at Spelman College.
I likewise explored civic engagement and volunteerism as president of Spelman's Environmental Task Force, secretary and treasurer of the Eta Zeta chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority Inc., and student member of the Sustainable Spelman Committee. I deepened my knowledge of environmental issues as a volunteer for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), the National Wildlife Federation and USDA Forest Service, the Georgia Conservancy, Keeping it Wild, the Hog Hummock Geechee Community on Sapelo Island, Trees Atlanta, Truly Living Well Center for Urban Agriculture, the Morehouse Bonner Office of Community Service and the Raising Expectations Tutoring and Mentoring Program in Southwest Atlanta. I also graduated with a Spanish minor at Spelman after studying abroad in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Italy, and South Africa. In South Africa, I studied physical hydrology, agrometeorology and environmental biophysics, community ecology and an interdisciplinary geomorphology, climatology and biogeography seminar at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Finally, I focused on campus recycling efforts as an intern for the Spelman College Facilities Management & Services and cultivated relationships with Black farmers in the USA and farmers of color internationally as an intern for the Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON) and Slow Food International. In fact, I started the first HBCU Chapter of Slow Food at Spelman College in 2013.
As a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, I served as a mentor on an urban ethnobotany research project working in gardens tended by refugee communities. I also served as a research assistant for the UC Riverside and NAACP “Gender and Climate Change” study to catalog and review best practices of environmental and climate justice work in the U.S. that intentionally and effectively integrates gender justice, and vice-versa. I also draw knowledge from my experience working in philanthropy as an intern for the Environmental Grantmakers Association and working in mining and coal policy as an intern for the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) at the US Department of the Interior. I currently work with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) to develop youth leadership around sea level rise, flooding and stormwater management. I also work full time as an environmental educator while completing my dissertation research on women of color, climate justice and state-corporate crime in Gulf Coast Louisiana. Lastly, I currently develop resources for the Women4Climate Mentorship Program sponsored by the C40 Cities Initiative and the New Orleans Mayor's Office of Resilience & Sustainability. I am a proud founding member of the Feminist Agenda for a Green New Deal.
By identifying as an "undisciplined" scholar-activist, I am able to draw knowledge from several scholarly disciplines including geography, anthropology, sociology, environmental studies, communications, city planning, Black studies, Indigenous and ethnic studies, women and gender studies and, finally, earth and atmospheric sciences. I am also able to draw knowledge from working and volunteering in the education sector, nonprofit sector, philanthropy and the federal government. My diverse experiences in the environmental sector enable me to think across boundaries and embrace intersectional approaches to social inequality and environmental problem-solving. I believe that learning should and does occur both in and outside of formal classrooms, so I promote service-learning, civic engagement and volunteerism as important pedagogical strategies. I also believe that by strengthening relationships across diverse sectors, we can improve professional communication, engage and empower local communities and create mentoring opportunities for women, youth of color and other underrepresented groups in policy and STEM. Our survival as a species depends on our willingness to embrace interdisciplinarity, improvisation, fluidity, experimentation, reconciliation, accountability, justice, creativity, innovation, pleasure and rule-breaking.