River Voices: June 2023

Welcome to the June 2023 edition of River Voices. This month you’ll find stories of how River Network’s community-led research support is making change across communities in New Jersey and Houston, including our first Spanish-language Meet Your Network interview, with Carla Rodrigo. And, ICYMI: read our Policy Team’s reaction to the catastrophic Sackett v. EPA Supreme Court decision.

Five advocates stand in a city plaza holding a yellow sign that reads "When our streets flood we flood the streets."
Advocates in Houston. Photo courtesy WSR/NAC.

West Street Recovery (WSR) and its long-time partner, the Northeast Action Collective (NAC), are focusing on changing the very systems that contribute to climate injustice in the majority Black and Brown neighborhoods of NE Houston. The organizations have embraced community-led research as a strategy, using River Network’s Fostering Community-Led Research and Knowledge tool. Their initial project led the organizations to take a closer look at the factors that contribute to the disproportionate flooding exposure that residents in these neighborhoods experience.

Read on to learn what they found and about their campaign for #DrainageJustice.

“What’s encouraging is that we’ve been right from the start. Everyone tried to tell us … that we don’t understand the bigger picture of how dollars are distributed and how the (drainage) systems work. They make it more complicated than it needs to be. Now we know that the hypothesis we originally put forth, which was based on everyone’s experience (with flooding) was correct.”

–Becky Selle, Co-Director for Research at West Street Recovery

Campbell Simmons smiling off to the side, standing in front of a green brick wall.

“Balancing conservation needs and goals within the context of human needs and health is central to effective and equitable conservation.”

We’re thrilled to welcome Campbell Simmons to the River Network team! As the Resilient Communities and Policy Associate, Campbell supports organizations in the network to advance climate justice and holistic community resilience that incorporates environmental, social, and economic resilience.

Meet Campbell.

Carla Rodrigo (she/her) standing on a beach.

“When starting the project, [PEACE NJ] had preconceptions about the barriers they would face in the Latino community. And we were surprised.”

Carla consults for Peace New Jersey, including on their recent community-led research project. She is available to consult with River Network members and others to engage Spanish-speaking and Latinx community members in conservation initiatives and/or design water quality monitoring programs.

Meet Carla – in English or Spanish.


River Network’s awards, presented at River Rally, are designed to recognize that, while another challenge might be right around the corner, there is great progress happening by champions across the network, and this progress deserves our appreciation and celebration! This year, we’re accepting River Hero nominations for both individuals and teams, as well as self-nominations for both awards: River Heroes and the Emerging Leader.

Nominate a River Hero or Emerging Leader by August 31.

Raj Shukla standing in front of the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

River Network is honored and pleased to announce that, after a meticulous national search, Raj Shukla will be joining the organization as its next President and CEO. His first day will be Tuesday, June 20, and he will be working primarily from his home office in Madison, Wisconsin.

Meet Raj.

A city street in Baltimore, MD, is flooded. The water covers the entire roadway up to building windows and halfway up the wheels of parked cars.

A recent story from the Urban Waters Learning Network highlights the Baltimore Region Urban Waters Federal Partnership location. Learn more about their work creating a safer, healthier Baltimore through actionable science.

Read about Baltimore’s Urban Waters Actionable Science Flood Team.

Member News & Tips

River Network Is Hiring! Drinking Water Program Director

Join our team! We’re looking for an experienced candidate to oversee our work to increase access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water nationwide by growing the capacity and connectedness of our network to advance equitable drinking water policies. Our ideal candidate understands and has experience working with nonprofit organizations and with under-represented groups, particularly racially and ethnically diverse communities.

Apply for the Drinking Water Program Director position by July 10.

It’s Time to Get Loud for the IRA!

WaterHub, Resource Media, and the Energy Foundation have a new campaign touting the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – and need the network to help spread the word! We need to get loud as a movement to promote the IRA’s benefits, though we know it’s not a panacea for our water or climate crises) and fight for these funds.

Justice40 Accelerator Application Open Through July 31

The Justice40 Accelerator will support community-based and community-led groups and organizations working at the frontlines of environmental crises and advancing community-driven climate solutions. Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status, fiscally sponsored projects, and cooperatives based in the U.S., including sovereign lands located within the U.S. and its territories, are eligible to apply.

Learn more about the Justice40 Accelerator.

CDRW’s DEIJ Messaging & Social Media Guide

Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed’s new guide is a valuable resource that offers evergreen messages and tips, providing guidance on discussing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) matters and connecting them with environmental themes.

Explore the DEIJ Messaging & Social Media Guide.

Native Voices Rising 2023 Grant Application Now Open

Common Counsel Foundation and Native Americans in Philanthropy are pleased to announce that the Native Voices Rising 2023 grant application is now open! Central to Native Voices Rising is a community-led grantmaking approach with Native community members empowered to make grant decisions. They encourage applications from Native-led groups that have a membership base in the community, work to develop leadership, and take collective action to win progressive social change.

Applications due July 7.

What We’re Reading and Listening To

Coming in July: Keeping the Chattahoochee, by Sally Sierer Bethea, one of the first women in America to become a “riverkeeper” and a vocal defender of a specific waterway who holds polluters accountable. In Keeping the Chattahoochee, publishing July 15, 2023, she tells stories that range from joyous and funny to frustrating—even alarming—to illustrate what it takes to save an endangered river. Learn more and preorder!