April 26, 2022 – Earthworks is excited to announce the addition of Lezlie Griffin and Rachel Kerr to its Leadership Team as the organization expands advocacy efforts to stop fossil fuel extraction, ensure the clean energy transition not be built on dirty mining, and help build a more equitable and just future for all.
“We are living in the most critical decade for climate action,” said Earthworks Executive Director Jennifer Krill. “Our movement needs strong leaders like Dr. Kerr and Ms. Griffin who are committed to lifting up communities in the fight to protect human health and the global climate from extractive industries.”
Lezlie Griffin steps into the newly-created position of Director of Talent and Equity. She is responsible for helping Earthworks maintain and sustain a positive organizational culture for more than 40 staff in more than a dozen states, regions, and countries. This role will have a special focus on relationship building, conflict resolution, advancing equity and inclusion, and organizational development.
Lezlie comes to Earthworks and diversity employment work with an abiding passion for justice, equity and improving the lives of others. Her deep understanding that the need for change persists drove her to Tulane Law School after graduating from Troy University. Prior to her employment at Earthworks, Lezlie held senior leadership positions at two top law schools, University of Alabama and most recently at Tulane University Law School, where she was Assistant Dean for Career Development & Diversity Initiatives.
Lezlie brings to Earthworks a personal understanding of the harms of extreme weather, having lived through Hurricane Katrina and, more recently, Hurricane Ida. She has previously worked within the labor movement and is determined to bring better skills for equity and inclusion into the environmental advocacy movement. Lezlie is based in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Rachel Kerr fills the vacancy of Energy Program Director. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Earthworks Energy Program including setting overall strategic direction, supporting state and federal policy objectives, collaboratively developing our fundraising and communication strategies, and managing our talented and dynamic Energy team staff.
Rachel grew up in the shadow of the petrochemical industry on Texas Gulf Coast, seeing the plants’ flares and smelling their emissions on a daily basis. She began her career working as an oncology nurse in Houston, accompanying people living with cancer on their journeys through cancer treatment. Through this work, Rachel learned that benzene, a chemical often released into Gulf Coast communities by petrochemical plants, causes acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Rachel saw a repeated pattern of Gulf Coast residents suffering with hard-to-treat cancers (including AML) and witnessed the vividly obvious disproportionate health impacts experienced by Black and Brown communities in the region.
Angered and determined, Rachel sought to address the upstream causes of these harms in her nursing practice. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at the University of Minnesota, where she focused on environmental and climate justice. Prior to her employment at Earthworks, Dr. Kerr managed nation-wide programming focused on environmental health, environmental justice, health equity, and anti-racism with the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.
Dr. Kerr considers herself an Earth-care nurse, focused on the connection between caring for people and caring for the planet, and brings this philosophy to Earthworks. She is currently based in St. Paul, Minnesota.