CEC hero image, a photo of Array

Prof. La’Meshia Whittington

A Royal Descendant of the Kingdom of the Happy Land, a post-emancipation Afro-Indigenous settlement nestled deep within the Appalachian Mountains of North and South Carolina. La’Meshia Whittington, has maintained the traditions of her people and her grandmother, philanthropist Rebecca Staley, by serving the people. La’Meshia Whittington is the Eco-Architect.

La’Meshia is a disruptor of harmful systemic inequities that burden frontline and marginalized communities of color and low wealth populations. La’Meshia is also a visionary on the underground railroad of eco-liberation and systems change to remove the oppression of legacy pollutions in Black communities, to remove health inequities created in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities targeted for waste, and to champion the autonomy and sovereignty of powerful communities across the US South and the Global US South.

Prof. Whittington is a Millennial Co-Founder of Democracy Green, alongside her family: Co-Founder/Executive Director Sanja Whittington and GenZ Co-Founder Robert Whittington, Jr. Democracy Green is an environmental justice and pro-democracy reform non-profit birthed in Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters and led by Afro-Indigenous and Black leaders.

Through Democracy Green, Prof. Whittington coordinated over 250 water and land rescues in eastern NC, co-fundraised over $2 million in mutual aid emergency relief, served as the first Chairwoman of the community fund that disbursed aid relief in multiple disasters and through COVID-19, and organized a 25,000lb trailer of life-saving emergency supplies delivered to residents in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Since that time, Democracy Green has assisted communities in receiving federal funding for water infrastructure, including recently a $13.2 million grant to develop clean water infrastructure for the first time in the history of an unincorporated Black community.

Through the organization and as a fund advisor, Prof. Whittington has supported the direct movement of over $75 million to communities across the US South since the global pandemic.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper appointed Professor Whittington to serve on the N.C. Water Treatment Certification Board and she was again appointed to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory Board by Secretary Elizabeth Biser. In 2024, Professor Whittington was appointed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to serve on the Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC). Prof. Whittington was selected to serve as a Tribunal Judge on the Nation’s first Indigenous-led Rights of Nature Tribunal to address the impacts of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Professor Whittington created the nation’s first research on racial gerrymandering and pollution hotspots in marginalized communities and then again on the intersection of PFAS and Environmental Justice. Professor Whittington published the impacts of wood pellets and environmental justice communities for state agencies and non-profits. Her work in emerging contaminants led Democracy Green to successfully file and win a petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency, challenging major contaminants in their home state of North Carolina.

Whittington’s work was instrumental in designing the US EPA PFAS roadmap, the designation of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, and instrumental in the nation’s first drinking water standards on PFAS. Prof. Whittington’s research was included in the nation’s first clinical guidelines to the CDC on PFAS testing.

Whittington is the Vice-Chief of the Eastern Band of the Apalwahči (an Afro-Indigenous collective) and serves as a Diversity and Environmental Justice Lecturer in the College of Natural Resources at N.C. State University. La’Meshia was the 2022 ABC11 Climate Change Hero, highlighted as a ABC6 Our America: Green Guardians and chosen as a Clinton Global Initiative Grist50 Fixer and a 2024 World Water Forum Young Water Sustainability Leader. Professor La’Meshia Whittington is the Eco- Architect.