Alabama native Catherine Coleman-Flowers is an environmental and climate justice activist bringing attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in rural communities in the United States.
As the founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (formerly the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise), Flowers builds partnerships — from close neighbors, to local elected officials and regional nonprofits, to federal lawmakers and global organizations — in order to identify and implement solutions to the intersecting challenges of water and sanitation infrastructure, public health and economic development.
In addition to leading the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, Flowers is also the rural development manager for the Equal Justice Initiative, a member of the board of directors of the Climate Reality Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a senior fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Previously, Flowers has worked as a high school teacher in Detroit, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. She has published articles in Anglican Theological Review, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, among others, and her first book, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, came out in November 2020. Flowers was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship–commonly referred to as the “Genius Grant” — in 2020.