Announcing our Executive Director: Alma Marquez!
Updated: Jan 15
CCAEJ Selects Recognized Statewide Leader to Lead
Jurupa Valley - The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) has served frontline Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities in the Inland Empire for over 40 years, with a mission of bringing people together to improve the social and natural environment. In the last decade, CCAEJ has empowered frontline communities within the region to confront environmental racism and tackle environmental injustices through policy advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement.
“Alma’s proven track record as a leader in BIPOC communities stood out, she has the experience and the vision to lead our organization into the next decade, ” said Board President Gracie Torres.
With the pandemic causing irreparable harm to frontline families within “diesel death zones”, CCAEJ’s work is more critical than ever to ensure accountability for industries that pollute and put profits before people. As families struggle to breathe, policymakers overlook the health inequities and disparity, such as the logistics industry's impact in BIPOC communities, which has allowed COVID-19 to harm frontline families at a disproportionate rate. At a pivotal moment such as this, the need for new leadership to diversify and expand partnerships, maintain organizational excellence, and continue a bold vision for our organization remained the cornerstone of our search.
After a comprehensive search and recruitment effort, the CCAEJ Board of Directors and the Staff Community Advisory Committee are excited to announce Alma Marquez as our Executive Director.
“It is an honor to have been selected as CCAEJ’s new Executive Director,” stated Alma Marquez, “Inland Empire families have been subjected to environmental injustices at the hands of systems, polluters, and policy makers that put profits in front of people’s lives. We will continue to elevate the community and empower their voices to be heard.”
Alma brings 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector with a background in community organizing and environmental policy to CCAEJ. Formerly Executive Director at Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL), Alma built the organization’s capacity to train leaders throughout CA, from Latino communities, on water policies that promote timely and equitable actions that strive to develop a robust economy, healthy communities, and a resilient environment for all Californians to address water inequalities throughout California. She further led the organization to new program opportunities to reach a wider audience of Latino elected officials.
As a native of South Los Angeles, Alma understands the impacts of pollution burdens deeply. Her career began with the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, an affiliate of PICO Faith in Action International, as a Senior Community Organizer spearheading a health initiative for universal health coverage for all children. She went on to work in the California legislature in the State Assembly and Senate, becoming District Director. She eventually went on to become the Director of Programs for Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies (MECCA), managing two county-funded programs with a $2 million budget as well as supervising a staff of twenty-two staff members.
“We look forward to Alma’s leadership at a crucial time like this for our communities. As a Fontana resident having a leader who understands our communities is vital,” said Daniel Reyes, Communications Specialist at CCAEJ.
According to Maribel Nunez, Executive Director of the Inland Equity Partnership, “Alma is a leader and an organizer whose decades of experience will serve CCAEJ. We look forward to continuing our partnership into the future.”
As CCAEJ’s new Executive Director, Alma will use her experience and background to pursue ambitious organizational goals including expanding fundraising initiatives, refining communications, developing new partnerships, and ensuring ongoing programmatic excellence. Alma’s first day as Executive Director was January 11th, 2021. Further, we want to extend our gratitude to our Interim Executive Director, Esther Portillo, whose excellent display of leadership was vital to bringing stability, empowering the community, and improving CCAEJ as a whole.
Please join us in welcoming Alma as our Executive Director!
“As a seasoned community organizer, Alma brings community needs to the forefront of every conversation. Alma also brings to CCAEJ experience in organizational development, team management, and fundraising skills. She has impressed us with her ‘roll-up your sleeves’ attitude and service-oriented leadership.” - Marla Matime, Chief Operating and Communications Officer, Black Voice News, Board Member CCAEJ
"Alma has been able to think strategically about her partnerships with key stakeholders, especially as it relates to the world of water, which in itself is a very complex issue. Now working in Environmental Justice work with CCAEJ, I know she will work diligently to steer the organization to a new horizon." - Marybeth Vergara-Garcia, Grants Director, Rivers Mountains Conservancy
"WELL was very fortunate to have Alma as the Executive Director. It was through her vision and tenacity that she was able to steer the organization through murky waters during the COVID-19 pandemic. CCAEJ has been a great choice in choosing Alma as their Executive Director." - Irais Lopez-Ortega, Vice Mayor, City of Calistoga, WELL-Water Education for Latino Leaders, Board Member
“Alma’s leadership at WELL as Executive Director was instrumental during the pandemic. She led the organization through our transition from in-person to a virtual format keeping our programs on track. I know that given her skillset, she will be a strong leader with CCAEJ." - Miguel Luna, WELL-Water Education for Latino Leaders Board Member, WELL