Elected at age 27, Heather McTeer Toney was the first African-American, first female, and the youngest to serve as Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi from 2004-2012. In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as Regional Administrator for Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Southeast Region. Known for her energetic and genuine commitment to people, her work has made her a national figure in the area of public service, environmental justice, and community engagement. She currently serves as the Climate Justice Liaison for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Senior Advisor to Moms Clean Air Force, two affiliated organizations that represent over 3 million climate and environment allies committed to fighting climate change and protecting children from the dangers of air pollution. Heather is a sought-after speaker and writer.
Mrs. Toney earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Spelman College in Atlanta and her law degree from the Tulane University School of Law. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and an active member of Oxford University United Methodist Church. Heather loves to compete in triathlons and is a member of several sports related groups.
In what ways does nature inspire or inform your work?
Climate Justice is the social justice movement of our time. Engaging in nature, whether by walking on a trail or swimming in a lake, reminds me of how these elements were part of molding and protecting Black people seeking freedom. It inspires me to work to protect the forces that made my existence possible.
What does it mean to you to be part of a thriving ecosystem?
To be part of a thriving ecosystem means participating equally and respecting the elements within the system.