PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources) is a women led, people of color grassroots social justice organization formed in 1991 to increase the participation of residents of East Austin in decisions related to the economic development and environmental protection of our communities. Our mission is to redefine environmental issues as social and economic justice issues, and collectively set our own agenda to address these concerns as basic human rights. We seek to empower our communities through education, advocacy and action.

Why is your organization excited for WE ACT’s J40 Community Tour to come to your community?

We are excited for this unique opportunity to engage stakeholders and decision-makers from the federal to the local level to advance environmental justice in East Austin.

Environmental Justice Leader Spotlight

Susana Almanza

Susana Almanza is a founding member and Director of PODER. Susana has overcome poverty, prejudice, and segregated schools to face down some of the world’s most powerful transnational oil corporations.

Susana is an indigenous person of the continent of America and resides in East Austin, Texas. She is a longtime community organizer, and educator, mother and grandmother. Susana participated in the civil rights movement as a Brown Beret taking up issues of police brutality, housing, quality education and equity in school systems and health care as a right not a privilege. She co-wrote the 17 principles of environmental justice at the First People of Color Summit in 1991 and has been fighting against environmental racism for over 30 years.

Susana Almanza is a proven leader and nationally recognized environmental justice activist.  Susana was recently appointed to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Susana served on the City of Austin’s Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Board, Environmental Board and the Community Development Commission.

Alexia Leclercq

Alexia (she/they) is an organizer based in Austin, TX. They graduated summa cum laude from NYU (’20), where they self-designed a major titled “The Politics and Economics of Inequality.”

They have worked in the climate space for the past 5 years and been with PODER since 2019 where they worked on various issues from preserving the Colorado River, fighting land use policy and zoning that enforces race-based discrimination, conducting ethnographic research on climate health, to organizing mutual aid, youth programming, and shaping national legislation alongside members of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance.

Alexia is also the co-founder of Start: Empowerment, a BIPOC led social and environmental justice education non-profit working with youth, educators, activists, and community members to implement justice-focused education and programming in schools and community spaces. S:E curriculum and programming has reached over 2,000 students, been recognized by the NYC Department of Education, and taught in universities. In 2021, their work was recognized by the prestigious Brower Youth Award.

Alexia’s Social Media: IG, Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook

Social media

    • Organizations LinkedIn
    • Organizations Facebook
    • #poderaustin #environmentaljustice #climateorganizing

3 Projects we are working on with the community

    1. Air quality testing in Eastern Travis County to monitor pollution around Tesla, tank farm, aggregate mining operations
    2. A community solar farm in Montopolis
    3. Advocacy against water privatization to address the negative impacts in Austin’s ColonyPassing the EJ for All Act to ensure cumulative impact is taken into account.

What you should know about environmental justice in your community?

Austin, like most cities in the U.S, has a deep history of environmental racism.

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