Meet our ISS: Energy and Oppression Panelists!

“We stand for community, light, and power through the sacredness of the sun.”

Huda Alkaff, panelist at Inspire Speakers Series

What is energy and how does it contribute to inequities in marginalized communities? How does the energy supply chain – from production to consumption – impact people’s health, finances, and surrounding environment? What solutions are available to bring everyone along in a clean energy transition?

At our first installment of the 2021 Inspire Speakers Series, our panelists will discuss these vital questions – and many more – surrounding the relationship between the energy systems that power our communities and the impact it has on our most marginalized neighbors.

Our panel of experts comes from a broad array of backgrounds and personal experience. This personal knowledge has influenced their lives and careers, equipping them with the expertise they have today. We hope you can join us for this informative and inspiring conversation!

Keynote Speaker: Diana Hernandez (PhD) focuses her work on the social and environmental determinants of health. Her community-oriented research examines the intersections between the built environment, poverty/equity and health with a particular emphasis on energy insecurity. Growing up in the South Bronx, Hernandez observed the compounding disasters of the crack epidemic, HIV/AIDS outbreaks, poverty, and the beginnings of mass incarceration during the 80s. Witnessing these issues led her to an increased interest in their causes and the effect they have on the people suffering them. Hernandez completed her undergraduate degree at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York. Her work establishes connections between household energy and overall health. She notes, “My most innovative research looks at household energy as a determinant of health. When people can’t adequately meet their household energy needs, I call that energy insecurity.”

Hernandez’s research has been published in leading journals including the American Journal of Public Health, Energy Policy, Public Health Reports and Energy Research and Social Sciences. At this event, Dr. Hernandez will provide context around our country’s energy systems including how they work and what issues are currently contributing to the oppression of low-income communities and communities of color.

Huda Alkaff is an ecologist, environmental educator, and the Founder and Director of Wisconsin Green Muslims, a grassroots group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which connects faith, environmental justice, and sustainability through education and service. Wisconsin Green Muslims has educated thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds on climate change, water, food, fair trade, solar energy, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and transportation equity. Huda has received the 2015 Obama’s White House Champions of Change for Faith Climate Justice Leaders recognition; the 2016 Sierra Club Great Waters Group Environmental Hero of the Year; and was named one of the 2017 Voices for 100% Renewable Energy by Environment America. At this event, Huda will share details of her work and solutions that could be replicated throughout the country.

Gabriela Sandoval (PhD) is Research Director for TURN’s Addressing the Health Impacts of Utility Shutoffs project. She works with community organizations throughout California—with a focus on communities of color and those struggling to make ends meet—to better understand energy equity, where and why shutoffs occur, how shutoffs impact the health of communities, and how to stop them. Previously, Gabriela was Research Director at the Insight Center, where she managed projects focused on building wealth and opportunity for communities of color. Gabriela has been a sociology professor at UCSC and Academic Coordinator for a professional midwifery school in Mexico. At this event, Dr. Sandoval will share insights from her research, details of her work, and solutions that could be replicated throughout the country.


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