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Regulation as Social Justice Conference

The Center for Progressive Reform is pleased to announce Regulation as Social Justice: Empowering People Through Public Protections, an intensive one-day convening to generate a progressive vision for the future of U.S. regulatory policy. 

This will be a participatory event. We value the unique insights and expertise of our participants too much to ask that they sit passively all day simply listening. So we have built the day’s proceedings around a series of innovative “idea exchange” sessions. During these sessions, we hope to hear about your experiences working with federal government program implementation and learn more about how agencies can do a better job of promoting social justice and addressing unmet community needs as part of their work.

New on May 31: Read a briefing memo for participants.

Regulation as Social Justice will be held at The George Washington University School of Law, Washington, DC, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration is free and lunch will be provided.


Register Here


When June 5, 2019, 9:00 a.m.
The George Washington University Law School
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052


8:30 a.m. Doors Open
9:00 a.m.


9:15 a.m.

Opening Session – Environmental Justice & Social Equity Advocates At Work: RISE St. James and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade

We’ll hear from Sharon Lavigne (Founder, RISE St. James), Reverend Harry Joseph (Pastor, Mt. Triumph Baptist Church), and Anne Rolfes  (Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade) about their work fighting environmental injustice and promoting community resilience in Louisiana.

10:00 a.m. Break
10:15 a.m.

Idea Exchange: Round 1

Facilitated small group discussion that will start with the following question: "How do you see your advocacy work contributing to the goals of social justice and equity?"

Facilitators will take careful notes during this discussion and prepare summaries for distribution to attendees following the conference.

11:15 a.m. Break
11:20 a.m.

Idea Exchange: Round 2

Facilitated small group discussion that will start with the following question: "What legal or other institutional changes would you make so that you are better able to promote social justice and equity as part of your advocacy work?"

Facilitators will again prepare summaries for distribution to attendees following the conference.

12:20 p.m. Break
12:45 p.m.

Lunchtime Conversation – Pursuing Racial Justice Through Stronger Public Health and Economic Protections

CPR Board President Rob Verchick will do a live recording of his podcast ‘Connect the Dots’ in which he will interview Leslie Fields (Director of Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships, Sierra Club) and John Hughes (Attorney, Wallace & Graham).

1:45 p.m. Break
2:00 p.m.

Closing Session – Achieving and Communicating Social Justice Victories: Workers Compensation as a Civil Right

We'll hear from Gail Evans (Albuquerque, New Mexico-based public interest attorney) on the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty’s successful advocacy for New Mexico’s farm and ranch workers.

2:30 p.m. Adjourn

Scheduled Speakers

Sharon Lavigne, Founder of RISE St. James, is a teacher, a lifelong St. James resident, and the daughter of a civil rights leader. RISE St. James is a grassroots Christian-based environmental justice organization fighting industrial development in St. James Parish. Recently, RISE St. James has been at the forefront to stop the proposed $9 billion Formosa plastics plant, a multinational petrochemical company that would make throwaway plastics. Sharon’s home is on land that has been in her family for four generations

Reverend Harry Joseph is the Pastor of Mt. Triumph Baptist Church in St. James, Louisiana. He enjoys fishing, helping people and loving people. Since 2012 he has actively stood up to petrochemical plants and parish government that seek relentless construction in the 5th District where he lives. A review of parish meeting minutes finds his name consistently there opposing industry expansion. Pastor Joseph says, "I love my family," and he fights for them and for all people in St. James.

Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, began her career in Nigeria, collaborating with local communities to address oil companies’ destruction of the Niger Delta. She returned to Louisiana in 2000 and founded the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to end pollution in her home state. The organization has created cutting edge tools, including the iWitness Pollution Map, the Refinery Accident Database and in-street-based artistic performances. Anne was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, where many people made their fortunes from the oil industry. She has seen the wealth and the poverty created by oil production and seeks to make the industry more equitable. She has a Masters in International Development from Tulane; she has twice testified before Congress. Her work has been recognized by local and national awards, including the Jane Bagley Lehman Award for Public Advocacy and the Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader Award.

Leslie Fields, Director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program, brings over 20 years of federal, state, local and international environmental justice and environmental law and policy experience to the Sierra Club. Fields was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Board of Directors of the Mickey Leland Urban Air Toxics Research Center. She serves on the board of the Children’s’ Environmental Health Network. She also serves on the board of Adeso African Solutions (formerly Horn Relief -an East African natural resources and development organization). Fields teaches international environmental law as an adjunct law professor at Howard University School of Law. Leslie Fields is a graduate of Cornell University and the Georgetown University Law Center.

John Hughes, attorney at Wallace & Graham, is a highly skilled North Carolina class action lawyer specializing in personal injury, insurance coverage and predatory lending litigation. He has experience representing consumers in the areas of civil litigation, insurance coverage, consumer protection, predatory lending, ERISA claims, truth in lending, fair debt collection, and complex civil litigation. Since 1995, he has been engaged in the private practice of law in North Carolina, concentrating in civil litigation. At Wallace & Graham, Hughes has been involved in an environmental justice case in eastern North Carolina, representing residents who allege that they have been exposed to untenable living conditions due to nearby industrialized hog farms.

Gail Evans, Albuquerque, New Mexico-based public interest attorney, works for social, economic and racial justice in New Mexico. For 14 years, she served as the legal director for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, where she led the Center's work on access to health care, public benefits reform, workers’ rights, and education. She fought for farmworkers' constitutional right to workers’ compensation for over a decade and finally won with a decisive Supreme Court ruling in 2016. She continues to lead the plaintiffs’ efforts in a landmark case, Yazzie vs. State of New Mexico, in which the Court ruled that the state is violating New Mexico children’s right to a constitutionally sufficient education. Before joining the Center, Gail represented New Mexicans facing the death penalty. She earned her J.D. from UNM School of Law and her L.L.M from Georgetown.

Register Here

Conference Sponsors and Supporters

CPR is grateful to the Bauman Foundation, Deer Creek Foundation, and Rowboat Foundation for their support of our work. 

If you are  interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Matthew Shudtz. We hope to offer travel stipends to frontline activists who can share their experiences and help us advance a new vision for federal regulatory policy. But we need sponsors to make that happen. 

You can help us offset the cost of the conference by making a one-time or monthly donation. We'll be sure to acknowledge your support at the conference..