National Wildlife Federation Expert Named to Support Black Community Leadership in Water Work

CHICAGO — Black Chicago Water Council (BCWC) has tapped regarded experts to facilitate all nine of their identified areas of water-related work, including naming Simone Lightfoot as lead facilitator of the Nature – Ecology/Habitats/Riparian working group.

Lightfoot serves as national director of urban initiatives and environmental justice for the National Wildlife Federation, the nation’s largest conservation organization. She will bring seasoned, public policy insight, expanded reach and a broad knowledge base to the work of the Black Chicago Water Council.

"We are happy to have Simone Lightfoot join our efforts to find sustainable solutions to water challenges facing the community,” said Naomi Davis, founder of the Black Chicago Water Council. “Her expertise and access to information will be helpful as we educate stakeholders and mobilize around needed action."

At the National Wildlife Federation, Lightfoot leads national, state and local conservation policy, partnerships, convenings, and community engagement, specific to urban cities and frontline communities across the country. She customizes, defines and advances the Federation’s range of conservation and environmental justice work. From water, infrastructure, climate-induced flooding, and public health to habitat, wildlife, parks, land, soil, energy and air quality efforts. Lightfoot continues to lead the National Wildlife Federation’s more than four-year commitment in Flint, Mich. and directs the organization’s flood, sewage, infrastructure, and green career opportunities for youth and the formerly convicted in Birmingham, Ala.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Lightfoot served as a deputy chief of staff in the Michigan House of Representatives, a regional director with the American Red Cross and a state director for the national NAACP before joining the National Wildlife Federation more than ten years ago. She was appointed by the Obama administration to serve two terms on the Great Lakes Advisory Board helping advise the EPA on how to invest millions of dollars protecting the Great Lakes and represented the United States as a member of the International Joint Commission – Water Quality Board advising government representatives of the United States and Canada, on shared boundary waters.

The Black Chicago Water Council centers its work around capacity building for neighbors to engage and work with subject matter experts, to address water ideas and solutions that residents can then steward themselves. The council is an important part of building the infrastructure and growing Black community leadership in the water space. The monthly convenings has attracted some of Illinois’ most dedicated water stewards, Chicago community leaders, local residents, public officials and academic experts from within the region.

Topics related to restoring water service and access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water have been prioritized during Black Chicago Water Council convenings, however, other topics addressed have included: bottled water delivery, excessive service restoration fees, burdensome process for reconnection, PFAS, shoreline erosion, the Illinois Water Plan, pandemic without water and invasive species.

Black Chicago Water Council’s other working groups include: Emergency-One-Stop Water Shut-On Service; Policy-Affordability/Water As A Human Right; Standards-Safety & Illinois State Water Plan; Climate-Flooding/Erosion/Lake Michigan; Fun-Recreation/Swimming/Boating; Economy-Careers/Enterprise/Infrastructure; Governance-Members/Neighbors/Allies; Race – African Diaspora Discussions.

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