New Science Office and Environment, Equity & Justice Center Expands NRDC Focus and Capacities in Key Areas

New Executive Leadership Roles Filled by Established NRDC Experts

NEW YORK – NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) announced the launch of a new Environment, Equity & Justice Center and a new Science Office today, that will ensure that science and frontline community voices are integral to NRDC’s advocacy, partnerships, and litigation. Both offices are helmed by longtime NRDC experts with decades of experience in their respective fields who have helped shape the core of the organization's science and environmental justice work. These offices will act in conjunction with NRDC’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. 

The Environment, Equity & Justice Center will work to integrate environmental justice and communities in NRDC's advocacy -- an expansion and finer focus on work that has been undertaken for years by NRDC’s Environmental Justice team under the direction of Melissa Lin Perrella.

“Equity must be the foundation of any solution to the environmental injustices that threaten communities,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, NRDC’s Chief Equity and Justice Officer who will lead the new Environment, Equity & Justice Center. “I aspire for NRDC to expand and deepen our dialogue and partnership with frontline communities that will ultimately help change and grow the environmental movement. Our progress depends on partnering with communities that are fighting to transform the institutions and systems that have created environmental and climate crises.”  

Lin Perrella began litigating on behalf of communities hardest hit by air pollution from the freight transportation system after  joining NRDC in 2004 -- work that continues to this day. She uses her expertise on the health effects of diesel emissions to advocate for reduced air pollution from ports and rail yards, to enforce the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act, and to preserve landmark clean air programs against claims of federal preemption.

The new NRDC Science Office aims to drive, shape, and support NRDC’s ability to protect public health, be part of a strong environmental movement, and advance social justice. The Science Office will significantly expand the capacity of the organization to better explore and understand our world, and seeks to harness science as a tool to support a greater environmental movement that centers communities most harmed by environmental and climate impacts.

“The environmental movement must evolve and become more inclusive in the way that we do scientific work by incorporating the lived experiences of communities that have developed their own expertise in defending against environmental injustices,” said Kristi Pullen Fedinick, NRDC’s Chief Science Officer. “NRDC’s scientific work is a pillar for our advocacy, and our new Science Office will allow us to reinforce and re-center our efforts on the needs of our community partners that bring their own expertise.” 

Kristi Pullen Fedinick will lead the new Science Office after working at NRDC for almost a decade at the intersection of science and public policy to advance data-driven, health-protective, community-oriented solutions. Pullen Fedinick has published a number of groundbreaking reports including a series focused on data around drinking water contamination and communities of color. Pullen Fedinick has also served on numerous influential committees of the National Academies of Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including a recent appointment to the EPA Science Advisory Board. 

The two new initiatives grow out of NRDC’s commitment to ingrain equity, diversity and inclusion while fighting to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. 

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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