Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) (a fiscally sponsored project of Tides Center 501(C)(3)) is a coalition of caring community members, mothers, and youth who are committed to addressing the environmental injustices occurring disproportionately in pollution-burdened neighborhoods in the City of Minneapolis.
CMEJ is based in North Minneapolis, an environmental justice (EJ) community - a low-income community of color with multiple sources of industrial pollution generating a legacy of environmental health issues. Many of our concerned residents and families live or work in areas of the Twin Cities heavily impacted by the legacy of fossil fuel pollution in the state. CMEJ is focused on organizing to push for government policies and decisions that reduce the levels of toxics and other issues identified by the community affecting community health.
While environmental justice work by members has been occurring since 2012, the work got organized under the name of Community Members for Environmental Justice by founder Roxxanne O’Brien in 2018, with guidance from co-founder Shalini Gupta. There are over a hundred informally active members, working across community residents, government, and the private sector, that organically participate as they can - with a joined passion and commitment to achieving environmental justice.
Meet The Core Team
CMEJ is a coalition that has many members and receives immense support from community! The people featured here are the core team members who help support the work CMEJ does full-time.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Roxxanne O’Brien, Longtime Resident and Community Organizer in North Minneapolis. Roxxanne is a mother of three children who has been fighting for environmental justice in her neighborhood for over a decade. She is trusted among her fellow long-time residents of North Minneapolis and has worked tirelessly to bring issues of industrial pollution on the northside to the forefront, before many established organizations were engaged.
She was a key organizer around the elevation of Northern Metals facility for the past 7 years and for the purpose of pushing the city and state to face environmental injustice and racism in her community, she was on the Minneapolis Environmental Advisory Commission for four years. She also served on the city’s first official Green Zones Working Group and currently sits on the Northside Green Zone committee. Roxxanne OBrien co-founded Community Members for Environmental Justice in 2018.
Danielle Swift is a community organizer with a specific focus on community centered development and housing. Although Danielle was lead to organizing through social justice activism her professional background in banking, mortgage lending and real estate sales has helped tremendously along the way. Danielle has worked with several organizations in neighborhoods like the Eastside of Saint Paul, Frogtown and North Minneapolis with a very boots on the ground approach. Danielle served on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of Saint Paul from 2018-2023. She is currently a board member and co-treasurer at Indigenous Roots. Danielle is a mother of 4, a science nerd and strives to build authentic relationships with her neighbors.
Associate Project Director & Media Management
Justice Jones is a dynamic artist and educator, holding a Bachelor's degree in Art Education from Augsburg University. With a background rooted in community engagement and tactical urbanism, gained through a transformative five-year apprenticeship at Juxtaposition Arts, they have honed their skills in project management and social activism. As an art teacher, they spent two fulfilling years guiding students in their creative pursuits, emphasizing inclusivity and critical thinking. As an interdisciplinary artist, Justice explores various mediums to create thought-provoking works that challenge societal norms and spark dialogue on pressing social issues. Through their dedication to education and artistic expression, they strive to foster positive change in their community and beyond.
Media Programs Designer
Hawwa works with the CMEJ team to design graphics for media use and solidify the CMEJ brand identity. They also co-lead projects and social media campaigns that involve sharing the stories of the community members that make up the work of CMEJ.
Hawwa is a freelance cartoonist and illustrator. Their practice centers creating comics that tell stories of self-identity, community, and cultural history. In addition to being self-published, Hawwa’s work has been published by Juxtaposition Arts for clients such as Hennepin County, Metro Transit, and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and by Hope Community for their Parks and Power program. Hawwa is also the co-founder of the national Black Indie Comix Club.
Photos by Nemuel Sereti
Director of Operations
Rose Youngmark is a remarkable individual who wears many hats with grace and proficiency. As a devoted mother and loyal friend, Rose's nurturing spirit and unwavering support uplift those around her. Additionally, in her role as Director of Operations for CMEJ, Rose showcases her exceptional leadership and organizational skills, ensuring smooth and efficient functioning. Her ability to manage various tasks with precision and dedication extends to her personal and professional life, where she juggles responsibilities seamlessly while always prioritizing the well-being of others. Whether orchestrating community initiatives or providing comfort to loved ones, Rose's kindness and competence leave an indelible mark on all she touches.
Partners & Supporters
Tides Center - Fiscal Sponsor
People’s Action Institute - Center for Health, Environment, and Justice
City of Minneapolis Staff - Health Department, Promise Zone, and Sustainability Offices
...and many members, individual donors,
and supporters across the Twin Cities