Congratulations to the 2021 Community Sentinels!
The 2021 Sentinel Awards ceremony was held virtually December 9th, with over 100 fabulous attendees tuning in nationwide. Impassioned speeches, inspirational video presentations and beautiful music left us all teary-eyed with gratitude for all those leading us towards a future where environmental justice prevails.
We continue to celebrate these dedicated community leaders: John Beard, Jr., Veronica Coptis, Travis London, and Love Sanchez.
The event was a reminder that there are many kindred spirits from every region of the US together in the fight for environmental justice.
Thank you to all the grassroots organizers, activists, and environmental stewards whose work too often goes unseen. Read more about the awardees and learn more about the award below.
John Beard, Jr.
John Beard, Jr., is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Port Arthur Community Action Network (PA-CAN) of Port Arthur, TX, a community based environmental, social justice, and community development organization addressing environmental and community disparities affecting quality of life in PATX.
John Beard is a former three term City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tempore, having served his hometown of Port Arthur on numerous boards and committees. He has been active in public affairs for over 33 years, and is retired from ExxonMobil Corporation with 38 years of service in petrochemical refining.
Veronica Coptis joined the Center for Coalfield Justice staff in March 2013 as a Community Organizer, and is now serving as the Executive Director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex, the largest underground coal mine in the country, and currently lives in the eastern part of the county surrounded by shale gas.
Before joining CCJ, Veronica served on the Board of Directors for CCJ and organized with Mountain Watershed Association, where she worked with communities forming civic groups to resist the expansion of fracking.
Veronica has been at the center of many coalitions and partnerships to create a stronger movement ecosystem that shifts power back to people most impacted. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughters.
Travis London is the cousin and former Secretary/Chief Financial Advisor to the late Louisiana activist, Alberta Hasten-president of Louisiana Environmental Justice Community Organization Coalition. He has worked alongside Sharon Lavigne, Rise for St James, and a legal team to delay Formosa’s construction in St. James by creating various research and a testimony. He was also featured in The Times Leader newspaper this year in Ohio for comments made against the Mountaineer LNG project.
In 2020, Travis helped organized a Texas/Louisiana coalition and appeared on a Netflix series alongside Diane Wilson on the show Dirty Money: Port Comfort episode, where Diane Wilson won the largest settlement from an individual lawsuit in environmental history against Formosa Plastics.
Now, Travis is leading a team alongside Public Lab and Healthy Gulf in a scientific project to challenge proposed $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics project’s environmental impact statement. He also been featured in a Climate Reality video entitled Economics Impacts of Plastic (A-Z Series). His volunteer services also involved the following: being in advertisements by California based PL+US that had success in getting $15 wages and paid leave/sick leave for some minimum wage workers around the nation and represented Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization in a meeting with the EPA about banning asbestos. He will also be featured in an Anthropocene River Campus webinar at Tulane University in December, concerning Death Alley in Louisiana and an article about carbon emissions with New York based Vox Media in the near future to address climate change.
Love Sanchez was born and raised in the Corpus Christi Texas bay area. She is a mother of two boys and comes from a family of 6 girls. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Master’s degree in Public Administration from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi on the island. Love has been working on stopping fossil fuel expansion in Corpus Christi Texas for the past 5 years.
In less than one year, she has helped bring a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers & ENBRIDGE. Alongside other grassroots organizations in her area, she helped build a support base around Desalination, which is a chokehold for the fossil fuel industry that needs more water for their production. She is now embarking on stopping the offshore ENBRIDGE seawall pipeline between Houston and Corpus. Her work experience is with crude oil export, exports, and petrochemical buildout. She is passionate about building community, people power, and protecting the land and water for future generations.
2021 Partners & Sponsors
This event was hosted by FracTracker Alliance and Halt the Harm Network, and sponsored by The Heinz Endowments, The 11th Hour Project/The Schmidt Family Foundation, and Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. Partnering organizations include Art Killing Apathy, Ashtabula County Water Watch, Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community, Break Free from Plastic, Breathe Project, Center for Coalfield Justice, Clean Air Council, Climate Reality, Crude Accountability, Dakota Resource Council, Earthworks, FaCT Ohio, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, Food & Water Watch, Mountain Watershed Association, NAACP Ashtabula, Ohio River Valley Institute, Peak Plastic Foundation, Sierra Club, Sisters of St. Joseph, of Baden, Pennsylvania, Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, and Viable Industries.
The Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship honors those who address the root causes of environmental injustice in the United States, with a strong focus on racial justice in the face of oil, gas, and petrochemical activity. The award recognizes the leadership of those standing up for their communities to protect the places they love.
For more information on the awards program, please visit www.fractracker.org/sentinels.
The event is unique in its ability to bring us all together in celebration of those who make the environmental justice movement so strong. And celebrate we did!
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