Catherine Flowers Headshot

Founder | Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice

Catherine Coleman Flowers

Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ) which seeks the implementation of best practices to address the reduction of health and economic disparities, improve access to clean air, water, and soil in marginalized rural communities by influencing policy by inspiring innovation, catalyzing relevant research, and amplifying the voices of community leaders. This is done within the context of climate change and through the lens of environmental justice. She also serves as the Rural Development Manager for the Equal Justice Initiative and as a Senior Fellow for Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Her goal is to find solutions to raw sewage that exist in rural communities throughout the United States. Her journey is chronicled in her book entitled Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, published by the New Press. Catherine was recently awarded a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship grant for her work as an Environmental Health Advocate.

Serving the citizens of Lowndes County, one of the 10 poorest counties in Alabama’s Black Belt, Ms. Flowers has been able to bring significant resources to the County to address its many infrastructure and social problems. In 2002 she was appointed the economic development coordinator for the county. She assisted families by negotiating an end to a policy where poor families faced arrest or eviction from their homes because they could not afford an onsite septic system. After receiving a federal appropriation through EPA, Ms. Flowers helped to produce a master plan for addressing the raw sewage issue in Lowndes County. She hopes to be able to shepherd the development of affordable climate-friendly wastewater technology.