The 17 board members were selected from all across North Carolina, representing the rich diversity and many cultures of our state. The scope of the Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board is to assist DEQ in achieving and maintaining the fair and equal treatment and meaningful involvement of North Carolinians regardless of where they live, their race, religion or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Board Members
Dr. James Johnson, Jr. – Chair Marilynn Marsh-Robinson
Marian Johnson-Thompson – Vice Chair Naeema Muhammad
Jeff Anstead Rev. Rodney Sadler Jr.
William Barber III Carlos Velazquez
Veronica Carter La'Meshia Whittington
Randee Haven-O'Donnell Sherri White-Williamson
Dr. Deepak Kumar Carolina Fonseca Jimenez - Non-Voting
Dr. Danelle Lobdell  

Board Members' Biographies

Tab/Accordion Items

James H. Johnson, Jr. is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds degrees from North Carolina Central University (B.S., 1975), the University of Wisconsin at Madison (M.S., 1977), and Michigan State University (Ph.D., 1980). Prior to joining the UNC-CH faculty, Dr. Johnson was a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he spent the first twelve years of his professional career.

Selected by Fast Company magazine as one of the "17 … brightest thinkers and doers in the new world of work," Dr. Johnson’s current research and consulting activities focus on the workforce and workplace implications of post-1990 demographic changes in the U.S; and on how to create highly competitive and sustainable business enterprises and communities in the current era of economic uncertainty and global insecurity. His research on these and related topics has been widely cited in a number of national media outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Newsweek, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and Business Week. He has also appeared on a number of national television shows, including The Today Show on NBC, CNN Headline News, the CBS Evening News, ABC Nightly News, Sunday Morning on CBS, This Week in Review on NBC, and North Carolina People with William Friday.

Marian Johnson-ThompsonDr. Johnson-Thompson is Professor Emerita of Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health. From 1992 until her retirement in 2008, Dr. JohnsonThompson was Director, Education and Biomedical Research Development at the National institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where she developed programs that included health disparities, K-12 science education, minority PhD training programs and environmental justice (EJ) initiatives.

Dr. Johnson-Thompson was a member of the protocol committee that planned and implemented the first federal government supported environmental justice symposium, “Health Research Needs to Ensure Environmental Justice,” which led to President Clinton’s signing of the EJ Executive Order 12898. Dr. Johnson-Thompson’s past community outreach involvements have been with local and national HBCUs, The Intercultural Cancer Council, the National Medical Association, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Her active memberships include the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Sigma Xi, and the National Medical Association. She currently resides in Durham and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of Howard University and a Trustee of the N.C. Environmental Defense Fund.

Jeff Anstead currently serves as a Commissioner on the Commission of Indian Affairs, where he is the Chair of the Commission’s Environmental Justice Subcommittee. He has been on the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Council for over nine years and is currently serving as the Vice Chief of the Tribe. He also chairs the Long Range Planning Committee and is very active at every Pow Wow. Anstead is also on the Board of Directors at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribal School.

He is the son of the late Deanna Anstead and the proud father of three girls. Jeff grew up in the Hollister, N.C. community, and he currently works for the Warren County School System.

William Barber III is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he received the Kenan Scholarship. At North Carolina Central University, he was the first and only student to successfully graduate with the Environmental Science, Environmental Physics Concentration B.S. degree. Barber worked as a Legal Intern for Clean Energy Works in Washington, D.C., where he collaborated with Southern Environmental Law Center, Clean Energy Works, and NCAAP leadership to comprehensively review and present the PAYS inclusive financing program. He also worked as a Research Assistant for the Center for Climate, Energy, and Economics at the UNC School of Law and as a Graduate Research Assistant for Clean Water for North Carolina, focusing on natural gas pipelines.

Barber spent several years working for the North Carolina NAACP State Conference as a Field Secretary and a Moral Freedom Summer Youth and College Liaison. In 2015, Barber was the Keynote Speaker for the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network Summit. Barber was the President of North Carolina Central University’s chapter of NAACP, and received the NCCU Certificate of Recognition upon his graduation in 2013.

Veronica Carter is a former national and international civil servant and retired Army officer. As a U.S. employee, Carter served as the Director of Administration and Logistics for Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, and as an international civil servant at the United Nations Headquarters, Carter worked as a Logistics Officer in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Before retiring from the Army, Carter served as a Professor of Military Science and Department Chair for Military Science (Army ROTC) under Fordham University’s College of Business Administration. She also provided instruction as Adjunct Professor at Fordham University and New York University’s (NYU) School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

As a volunteer, Carter designed, developed, and conducted training for a comprehensive social service agency specializing in empowering homeless women with offices throughout New York City. In 2008, Carter was appointed to the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission by the Governor, and she has served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Cape Fear and Brunswick Counties. She currently serves on the N.C. Coastal Federation Board of Directors, where she pursues her passion of ensuring environmental justice for all communities.

Randee Haven-O’Donnell is a life-long educator and heavily engaged community activist. She is a graduate of State University of New York at Stony Brook (B.S.) and Bank Street College of Education (M.S). She is a North Carolina Certified Environmental Educator and served on the Certification Committee for the N.C. Office of Environmental Education for a decade. Haven-O’Donnell is currently a Science Educator at the Durham Academy and the Academic Director and instructor at Duke Action Science Camp. Before her time at the Durham Academy, she spent over a decade with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools as an Educator and Certified Diversity Trainer.

While Haven-O’Donnell has authored many grants and initiatives at the local and state levels, her involvement in local politics and activism in the Carrboro community is integral to her success. Haven-O’Donnell has served on the Town of Carrboro Board of Alderman since 2005 and previously served as the mayor pro tempore. She led the establishment of the Carrboro Stormwater Utility and the OWASA subcommittee to address water conservation, quality, safety, and supply concerns. In 2016, she received the El Centro Hispano Gilbertson-Clark Visionary Award. Currently, she is affiliated with the Leadership Triangle, the National and North Carolina Science Teachers Associations, and the Sierra Club.

Dr. Deepak Kumar is the Director of Julius L. Chambers Biomedical Biotechnology Research Institute (JLC-BBRI), a dedicated institute for health disparities research at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). He is also a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at NCCU and the PI of a U54 grant: RCMI Center for Health Disparities Research funded by National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). In June 2020, he founded and leads the Advanced Center for COVID-19 Related Disparities (ACCORD) to address COVID-19 testing concerns, vaccine hesitancy and impact on underserved North Carolinians. He is also the PI on the recently funded Building Resiliency and Vital Equity (BRAVE) program to address COVID-19 testing concerns in American Indian population of NC. Addressing health disparities through multi-stakeholder engagement and leadership has been central to his research and administrative philosophy. Dr. Kumar also created the Health Equity, Environment and Population Health (HOPE) program at NCCU, that leverages partnerships with local health departments, community free clinics and local community-based organizations; and focuses on examining the causes of widespread health disparities in underserved populations and bringing evidence-based interventions to the community.  

He is a trained molecular biologist by training with expertise in cancer biology, health disparities, genomics, epigenomics and cell signaling. He has been continuously funded by the NIH without interruption for last 16 years. He has received grants in excess of 30 million as a Principal Investigator (PI) from the National Institutes of Health (NCI, NIMHD) and private foundations. As an advocate for EJ communities, he brings extensive experience in health disparities, training underrepresented minorities, collaborative community programming as well as partnerships and program building.

Dr. Danelle Lobdell is an epidemiologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Office of Research and Development. She received her M.S. in Natural Sciences and her Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Community Medicine from the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Dr. Lobdell’s current research involves the development of environmental public health indicators that can be tracked overtime.

She leads the team that created the publicly available Environmental Quality Index (EQI) 2000-2005 for all counties in the U.S. The EQI has been used to explore how environmental quality affects health outcomes. Her research team is currently developing the EQI at the census tract level for the purpose of learning more about how various environmental factors contribute to health disparities in low-income, underrepresented minority and vulnerable populations, and to better estimate the total environmental and social context to which humans are exposed. She also has several research projects funded through the Regional Applied Research Effort that focus on the U.S. EPA’s regional research needs for communities. Dr. Lobdell has a strong research interest in the area of reproductive, perinatal, and children’s health outcomes.

Marilynn Marsh-Robinson is the Partnership and Alliances Manager for the Environment Defense Fund, where she collaborates with diverse stakeholders to advance positive clean energy, social and economic sustainability, and energy efficiency. She was awarded three organizational environmental justice minigrants centered on Hispanic outreach. Marsh-Robinson also helped to secure the passage of state environmental legislation regarding swine farm regulations and energy efficiency measures.

Outside of her work, Marsh-Robinson has shown dedication to the environment and her community. She currently serves as a Planning Member of the N.C. Environmental Justice Network, a chair for the N.C. Conservation Network Board, and is a N.C. Notary Public. She has previously attended the N.C. Leadership Forum at Duke University, the Rural Economic Development Institute Leadership Program and the Donice M. Harbor Public Service Leadership Academy.

Naeema Muhammad has worked as the Community Organizer for the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) since 2001, leading state-wide efforts and supporting grassroots efforts for environmental and social justice. Since 2014, she has served as Organizing Co-Director of the NCEJN. She is also a founding member of Black Workers for Justice in N.C., a community-based organization founded in 1981 that addresses workers’ rights issues.

Muhammad has worked on two National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-funded grants: The Community Health and Environmental Reawakening project, where she served as the Community Organizer and worked with communities adjacent to industrial hog operations; and the Community Health Effects of Industrial Hog Operations project, where she worked as the Community Organizer, Environmental Justice Educator, and Interviewer, and assisted her collaborators in qualitative data analysis. She has co-authored many publications with Dr. Steve Wing of the UNC-CH School of Public Health regarding community-based participatory research, most recently published in the New Solutions Health Journal.

Rodney S. Sadler, Jr. is a graduate of Howard University (1989, B.S. Psychology/Philosophy), Howard University School of Divinity (1992, M.Div.), and Duke University (2001, Ph.D. Hebrew Bible and Biblical Archaeology), and has also studied at Hebrew University (1990). He is an ordained Baptist minister who has served in pastoral supply roles at several Presbyterian congregations and as interim pastor at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church and Sardis Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, where he resides.

Dr. Sadler has previously served on the Board of Siegel Avenue Partners and Loaves and Fishes. He currently serves as Board President of Mecklenburg Ministries and as a Board Member of the Hispanic Summer Program, the Transformative Justice Coalition, the National Election Defense Coalition, the Voting Rights Alliance, Progress N.C., and on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina NAACP. His activism includes work with Community for Creative Non-Violence in D.C., Durham C.A.N., H.E.L.P. Charlotte, the Middle East Peace Working Group, and the U.S. Africa Ebola Working Group. He also serves in leadership roles for People Demanding Action, the Justice Action Mobilization Network, the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, the Truth Reconciliation and Anti-poverty Commission, and the Faith in Solar Project.

Carlos Velazquez, an Otomi Indian, Mechanical Engineer, recipient of the Environmental Educators of North Carolina Outstanding Partnership Award, Environmental Educator of the Year from Wake County NC and the 2011 Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Minority Environment Award. Mr. Velazquez has worked with environmental groups in Alaska and Canada and also worked in China as a project engineer, where he met with the Chinese Environmental Department. Mr. Velazquez was the first westerner to give a talk on Preserving the Environment and the Ways of China's Minorities, at Dalian University in mainland China. 

Mr. Velazquez has corresponded with members of the Sustainable Development Department in the newly formed Canadian Nunavut Territory for the last 10 years while living for months in Nunavut. Mr. Velazquez was invited to learn about the lives and environmental conditions of the Inuit people, while sharing some of the work being done by state, federal, and environmental agencies to protect our own environment. In 2014 he received a fellowship from Cornell University. 

In addition, Mr. Velazquez is also an organizer of many "Healing Mother Earth" activities and gatherings in places like Ocmulgee Mounds GA, Omaha Indian Reservation, Blackfoot Idaho, Raven Rock North Carolina and California. 

Sherri White-WilliamsonSherri White-Williamson is the Environmental Justice Policy Director at the North Carolina Conservation Network (NCCN) where she focuses on incorporating consideration of environmental justice in NCCN’s policy and outreach efforts. Ms. White-Williamson retired from the U. S. EPA, Office of Environmental Justice, where she served in many roles including Manager of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice established under Executive Order 12898 and Designated Federal Officer to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Ms. White-Williamson is a 2018 graduate of Vermont Law School (VLS), South Royalton, VT, where she earned dual degrees, her Juris Doctor and a Masters in Energy Regulation and Law. While at VLS she co-chaired its first Environmental Justice solutions conference and co-founded the Environmental Justice Law Society. She was awarded the Marc Mihaly Environmental Leadership Award in recognition of her commitment to the environment and environmental justice.

She currently resides in Sampson County, North Carolina and co-founded a community organization, the Environmental Justice Community Action Network (EJCAN), to address community environmental justice concerns. EJCAN is working with community members to identify and resolve the issues that they have raised.

La’Meshia Whittington serves as the Executive Director of The Green Majority, Deputy Director for Advance Carolina and the North Carolina Black Alliance Deputy Director of Programs. Professor Whittington is the co-convener of the NC Black & Brown Policy Network, former National Democracy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, former Chairwoman of the FRENC Fund Administration, Founding member of Democracy Green, member of the Burke Women’s Fund in Western NC, member of the Board of Directors for Cape Fear River Watch, the former N.C.spokesperson on fair courts for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and a community liaison for the National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine for the Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes national study. Professor Whittington leads work on intersectional democracy and environmental justice.

Professor Whittington serves as an adjunct professor in the Division of Sociology at Meredith College and a Lecturer of Diversity and Environmental Justice in the College of Natural Resources at N.C. State University. Professor Whittington has led guest lectures at N.C. Central University, NC Central Law School, Shaw University, Duke University, and her work has been seen on PBS NC, CSPAN, Bloomberg,Bloomberg Law, and a host of other publications. She is a petitioner in two active petitions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, challenging major contaminants PFAS and 1,4 Dioxane (PFAS and 1,4 Dioxane). Professor Whittington is an Afro-Indigenous woman from North Carolina, a royal descendant of the former Afro-Indigenous settlement: The Kingdom of the Happy Land. 


Carolina is from Leon, Guanajuato. Mexico. She is a former DACA recipient and is currently the Public Engagement Liaison for the Department of Environmental Quality. Before her role at DEQ, she was the President for the Hispanic American Caucus of North Carolina where she helped rebuild the caucus and its auxiliaries. Carolina has always had a passion for personal connections, growth, and community engagement so she studied Psychology and Women’s Studies at East Carolina University and started an on campus organization called, MyVoice to elevate the voices of women and students of color. After this, she expanded her work and outreach to serve on various campaigns across the state. This led her to attending Central Law School in North Carolina as well as interning for Senator Dan Blue. Carolina’s passion for uniting communities continues and in 2018 she published her first children’s book, Lupita and the Magic of Mexico to bring awareness of Mexican culture and family unity to the state. Carolina strives to encourage unity in all areas of her life and profession.