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Barriers to Equitable Implementation of Green and Nature-Based Solutions: Part 1 with NGO and Community Panel

The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (AAAS EPI Center) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water (EPA OW) hosted a panel conversation featuring representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities working on green infrastructure and nature-based solutions.

Panelists shared their experiences accessing and utilizing federal resources for green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. Additionally, panelists shared opportunities, challenges, barriers, and lessons-learned from the design and planning to implementation to operations and maintenance of green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. This facilitated discussion was the first in a series that explored NGO and community perspectives on accessing and utilizing federal resources for green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. The second event featured state perspectives. This virtual event was open to federal employees and contractors, NGO staff working on research, programs, and policies relevant to green infrastructure and nature-based solutions and interested community members.

The two-hour event mapped the critical, science-based issues and decisions officials are contending with regarding green infrastructure and nature-based solutions and the extent to which existing federal support for those installations is accessible and useful, and where it is inaccessible and why. The NGO and community discussion focused on the following topics: Leveraging Evidence, Expertise, and Tools for Advancing Resiliency, Accessing and Utilizing Federal Funding Sources, and Centering Equity and the Needs of Frontline Communities.

Download the video transcript (PDF)


  • Dr. Angela Chalk is the Founder and Executive Director of Healthy Community Services. Dr. Chalk is a 4th generation 7th Ward resident. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Healthy Community Services, a non-profit organization, located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, LA. She is a Past President for the Louisiana Public Health Association; former Secretary of the 5th District Police Community Advisory Board, (PCAB); a Foundation for Louisiana LEAD the Coast Cohort and Curriculum Advisory Committee, and a retired Civil Service Employee with the Louisiana Department of Health.

    Dr. Chalk serves on the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health & Equity Steering Committee. She is an APHA Food & Nutrition as well as an Environmental Abstract Reviewer and a member of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Advisory Committee. Recently, she was appointed to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edward’s Anti-Litter and Trash Abatement Task Force.

    She has testified before the 116th U.S. Congress Sub-Committee on Waters, Oceans, and Wildlife Recently, she was asked by the National Audubon Society to submit a Native Plant Academy instructional cohort curriculum to be used statewide across all of the LA Audubon Society’s platforms. Dr. Chalk serves on several boards and has been a guest speaker/panelist at numerous conferences, workshops, webinars and podcasts.

    Dr. Chalk received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications; Minor: Public Health from Dillard University and holds a Master of Science Health Care Management from the University of New Orleans. Currently, Dr. Chalk recently completed requirements for the Doctor of Health Administration degree at the Virginia University of Lynchburg She is recognized by the Enviro-Cert as a National Green Infrastructure Practitioner and is a certified Produce Safety Alliance Grower. In addition, she is a Climate Health Ambassador with Eco-America.

  • Paula Conolly, ACIP, is the Director of Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange. Paula is committed to expanding green stormwater infrastructure in communities throughout North America. She is the Director of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange (Exchange), a peer learning network of local public sector green infrastructure practitioners. Prior to the Exchange, she led policy initiatives for Philadelphia’s renowned Green City, Clean Waters program, helping to change “business as usual” to implement over 30 acres of green stormwater infrastructure on vacant lands, parks, streets and private property. Ms. Conolly also helped to establish a state-of-the art drinking water protection program for the City of Philadelphia, helping to raise over $3M to improve and protect the Schuylkill River Watershed. Prior to that, Paula consulted on public health and environmental initiatives at Booz Allen Hamilton. Paula is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. 
  • Harriet Festing is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Anthropocene Alliance (A2), the nation’s largest coalition of frontline communities fighting for climate and environmental justice. The alliance consists of 115 community-based organizations (CBOs) in 35 U.S. states and territories, totaling more than a million people. 75% of A2’s grassroots leaders represent mostly low income, Black, Latinx, or Native American communities, and 78% of our leaders are women. They’re united by their experience with failing water infrastructure, including flooding, sewage backups, groundwater depletion, contamination and drought.

    A2 is currently helping frontline leaders and their towns or cities tap into expanded funding from the infrastructure bill. We’re doing that by: a) linking them to scientific, legal, policy and technical help to develop shovel-ready projects; b) helping the CBOs and their cities apply for funding and c) making sure their demands are heard by the federal officials who hold the funds. A2 has channeled more than $20 million in cash and services to frontline communities since our founding in 2017.

    Harriet’s background stretches from milking cows in rural England, to place-making advocacy in New York. She spent eight years in the British civil service leading research and advising ministers on public attitudes to energy and climate change policy. She was Director of Fundraising for HRH Prince Charles’ Foundation for urban design and architecture in London. While at the University of London studying for her Masters’ Degree, she helped establish the first farmers' markets in the United Kingdom. Prior to founding A2, Harriet worked for the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago where she undertook ground-breaking research on urban flooding in the U.S. Her research won several awards and led to state legislation, and a federally funded study on the subject undertaken by the National Academy of Sciences. Harriet stood on the committee for the study.

  • Caroline Koch, the Water Policy Director at WaterNow Allianceleads the organization’s work in identifying and addressing policy and legal barriers to implementation of sustainable water management practices through toolkit development, legislative and administrative advocacy at local, state, and federal levels, hands-on community support, and policy white papers. She was previously a partner at Lawyers for Clean Water, Inc. representing environmental non-profit organizational clients in federal citizen suit actions and impact litigation advocating for the protection of California’s water and public trust resources. Caroline serves on the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters Board, and co-coaches Golden Gate University School of Law's Environmental Moot Court Team. She graduated with a BA in English and Public Policy from Duke University and a JD with honors from Golden Gate University School of Law, with a Certificate in Environmental Law.
  • Tanner Yess is the Co-Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio River ValleyTanner was raised by scientists, and grew up paddling, biking, and hiking. After earning a degree in ecology, he worked on a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea. His Peace Corps service involved resource management and eco-tourism. During graduate school, Tanner helped form Greater Cincinnati’s Tri-State Trails Coalition. He is a National Park Service Mountains to Main Street Ambassador; SHIFT Emerging Leader; and recipient of the 2018 Murie Center Rising Leader Award. As a co-founder of Groundwork Ohio River Valley, Tanner has led the creation of one of the nation's largest youth green workforce programs and brought Climate Safe Neighborhoods to Cincinnati. Yess’ passion is creating new pathways for diverse youth to access green careers.


Please direct questions to the AAAS EPI Center at

Webpage photo credit: Nathan R. Beane, Ph.D./US ARMY ERDC, Environmental Lab

Event Contact

Rebecca Aicher

Project Director, AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues

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