meet our steering committee

Bakeyah Nelson, Chair – Executive Director, Air Alliance Houston

Reverend James Caldwell – Founding Director, Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO)

Reverend James Caldwell – Founding Director, Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO)

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Bakeyah S. Nelson, PhD, is the Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston - a nonprofit organization working to reduce the public health impacts of air pollution and advance environmental justice in Houston. Dr. Nelson has a diverse background in public health and public policy and has been working to reduce environmental inequities where people live, work, learn, and play in Houston communities since 2009.   She was honored as one of the Texas Organizing Project’s 2018 Community Champions. She is a Senior Fellow of Class XLVI of the American Leadership Forum and was selected as one of the Aspen Institute’s Health Scholars for the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival.  Dr. Nelson is also a contributing faculty member with Baylor University's Department of Public Health.

Reverend James Caldwell – Founding Director, Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO)

Reverend James Caldwell – Founding Director, Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO)

Reverend James Caldwell – Founding Director, Coalition of Community Organizations (COCO)

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 Reverend James Caldwell is a native of Fifth Ward, a historically African American community and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Houston. In 2008, his passion for the community led him to birth COCO and develop a community network that builds sustainability within the community through dissemination of information and community events. In partnership with groups like Texas Southern University professor Dr. Robert Bullard, COCO puts on environmental justice community meetings that educate the community on a variety of resilience issues.

Mary Anne Piacentini – President and Chief Executive Officer, Katy Prairie Conservancy

Mary Anne Piacentini – President and Chief Executive Officer, Katy Prairie Conservancy

Mary Anne Piacentini – President and Chief Executive Officer, Katy Prairie Conservancy

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 Mary Anne coordinates the Conservancy’s land protection programs and conservation assistance to private landowners, establishes community partnerships and relationships with diverse stakeholders, and oversees the agency’s operations and programs.  She expanded the land protection program from 1,300 acres in 1999 to nearly 23,000 acres today; implemented a conservation buyer program to support additional conservation; and formed joint venture partnerships to restore habitat while also increasing earned income using stream and wetlands mitigation projects.  
She received a Master of City Planning from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of New Hampshire. In 2014, Ms. Piacentini was one of four women to receive the inaugural Terry Hershey Texas Women in Conservation award. 

Resha Thomas – Political Director, SEIU - Texas

Mary Anne Piacentini – President and Chief Executive Officer, Katy Prairie Conservancy

Mary Anne Piacentini – President and Chief Executive Officer, Katy Prairie Conservancy

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 For the past four years, Resha Thomas has served as the statewide political director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) - Texas. Since 2010, Resha has focused on creating and implementing field programs geared towards increasing the vote of the rising American electorate communities. Resha is a native Houstonian who enjoys spending her weekends exploring Houston’s diverse food scene. 

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meet our coalition director

Iris Gonzalez has served as the Coalition Director for CEER since November 2018. Iris has over 10 years experience in program development, program management, coalition building, grant-making, fundraising and community engagement. 

MEET THE CEER TEAM

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TERESA DAVIS, Director of Government Affairs and Community Engagement

BRITTNEY JENKINS, Regional Disaster Recovery & Resilience Community Organizer

BRITTNEY JENKINS, Regional Disaster Recovery & Resilience Community Organizer

Teresa has a background in psychology and business administration. She brings disaster recovery experience working to deliver crisis counseling in multiple counties in Southeast Texas after Hurricane Harvey. She is an experienced project manager, facilitator, and trainer. Teresa has carried out community engagement activities with a variety of audiences, including youth with special needs. She is highly creative and loves to play several musical instruments. 

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BRITTNEY JENKINS, Regional Disaster Recovery & Resilience Community Organizer

BRITTNEY JENKINS, Regional Disaster Recovery & Resilience Community Organizer

BRITTNEY JENKINS, Regional Disaster Recovery & Resilience Community Organizer

Brittney brings direct community organizing experience in labor and political campaigns across the South. She has experience in canvassing, phone banking, volunteer management, event coordination and leading direct actions. Her inspiration to organize comes from seeing communities living in environments that harm them and knowing the only way to see a change is to bring people together to fight for change. She worked for the Houston Zoo as a membership representative and is a native Houstonian. 

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CARMEN CAVEZZA, Climate Justice Community Organizer

BRITTNEY JENKINS, Regional Disaster Recovery & Resilience Community Organizer

CARMEN CAVEZZA, Climate Justice Community Organizer

 Carmen is a foreign medical graduate who has experience working to educate and engage communities around health equity. Carmen worked with epilepsy patients in Corpus Christi and along the Southern border of Texas. She relocated to Houston from California, where she worked for community health centers in risk management, patient relations and conflict management. Prior to emigrating to the US, she worked as a physician in community health centers in Mexico in primary and public health. Carmen has lived in several states and seen the impact humans and industry are having on our environment.