We believe that everyone has the right to breathe clean air and that where you live, work, learn, and play should not determine your health.
Guided by the Principles of Environmental Justice and the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing, we are committed to working toward our vision of healthy communities with clean air every day, for everyone.
Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds and work passionately every day toward furthering Air Alliance Houston’s mission.
Bakeyah Nelson, Ph.D.
Bakeyah Nelson, Ph. D.
Operating as the Executive Director since 2017, Bakeyah works closely with the Board of Directors and staff to ensure that AAH’s mission is fulfilled through strategic planning, programs, and management.
Previously, she led a consulting firm focused on advancing health equity and worked in Harris County Public Health’s Office of Policy and Planning where she was responsible for leading community health initiatives to reduce environmental inequities.
Bakeyah was recentlyhonored as one of the Texas Organizing Project’s 2018 Community Champions. She isa Senior Fellow of Class XLVI of theAmerican Leadership Forum and was selected as one of the Aspen Institute’s Health Scholars for the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival. She is also a contributing faculty member with Baylor University’s Department of Public Health. Bakeyah serves on a number of committees including but not limited to: the Houston-Galveston Area Council’sTechnical Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee of the Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee, and the Transportation Air Quality Subcommittee.
As the Research and Policy Director, Corey conducts research and analysis relevant to Houston’s air quality to inform stakeholders about local environmental concerns and provide policy advice. A geographer by training and with a decade of experience in industrial fugitive emissions monitoring, Corey brings a holistic perspective to understanding Houston’s multifaceted environmental dilemmas. Since joining AAH, he’s returned to school and is currently in his final year of the Environmental Management graduate program at the University of Houston Clear Lake. Outside the office, you might catch him lounging on his porch with a good book or spending time outdoors with his family.
As the Transportation Policy Advocate, Harrison is proud to lead AAH’s transportation initiatives that will directly affect the livability of his hometown. He’s a Political Science graduate from the Baylor University and brings government knowledge to the team, having previously worked as a staffer for the Environmental Regulation Committee within the Texas House of Representatives. In his free time, Harrison enjoys reading, watching movies, and cooking.
As the Director of Government Relations, Leticia keeps abreast of policy developments and oversees engagement with elected officials and stakeholders to advance AAH’s goals. She was born in Mexico and came to Houston as a child, eventually graduating from Milby High School and the University of St. Thomas. Prior to joining AAH, she served as the Chief of Staff at the Houston City Council. When Leticia isn’t working, she is likely out volunteering in the community or spending time with her family.
As AAH’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Juan specializes in engaging community members on environmental campaigns in an effort to make air quality cleaner now and for future generations. He’s a Houston-area native and holds a degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Houston. When Juan isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his family, sports, the outdoors, and being a part of many great social organizations.
As the Director of Development, Paige works to foster a culture of philanthropy and engage support for AAH’s mission. Her role in fundraising and volunteer engagement is a natural extension of her previous leadership of the organization’s educational outreach initiatives, where she has been able to share the importance of clean air with others to encourage advocacy for the cause. Paige holds degrees in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Houston. (Go Coogs!) She is a Certified Public Manager, Climate Reality Leader, and has been active among Houston’s Green community for over fifteen years. Outside of work, Paige is a devoted mother, musician, and enjoys spending time in the great outdoors.
As the Communications Manager, Riikka leads the development and execution of organizational and campaign-specific communications strategies, collaborating closely with all staff members. She serves as AAH’s media liaison, writes content, and handles the organization’s online presence. Riikka is an environmental communicator with experience working cross-culturally in consulting, government and the non-profit sector. She holds an MSc in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an MA in Politics from the University of Edinburgh in the UK. When Riikka isn’t working, she enjoys training for running events, cycling, and spending time with her dog, Carmelo.
As the Office and Project Manager, Meosha acts as the financial and HR department, ensuring that all team members at AAH have the tools they need to succeed in their day-to-day tasks. She has over 10 years of administrative experience and is always on the lookout for ways to improve the operations of the office. When Meosha isn’t sharing her contagious smile with co-workers, you can find her watching and playing sports, as well as traveling.
As an Administrative Assistant at AAH, Zach supports co-workers’ projects through research and assisting with day-to-day operations. Currently working part-time alongside his studies at the University of Houston, Zach enjoys being able to contribute toward improving the public health of the city where he was born and raised. If he isn’t in class or at work, Zach’s usually studying, spending time with friends and family, or reading.
Ernesto Paredes Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary Club
Steve Pavel Lone Star College
Thomas Stock, Ph.D. The University of Texas School of Public Health
Robert Thomas, Director Environmental Compliance
Terence Thorn JKM Consulting
Grantors That Make it All Possible
Thanks to all of the support from our wonderful donors, we have been able to continue our work on improving air quality, advancing environmental justice, and promoting the health of Houstonians. Their belief in our work allows us to forge ahead toward a healthy future.
For more than 25 years, we have worked to reduce the public health impacts of air pollution in the Houston region.
A few concerned residents join forces to form a group to prevent and eliminate smog in the Houston region. They named the group GHASP: the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention. Out of this grassroots effort, GHASP becomes a Texas nonprofit corporation in 1992.
Mothers for Clean Air
Another Texas nonprofit, Mothers for Clean Air (MfCA), is formed with the purpose of providing community-based outreach and advocacy.
Mothers for Clean Air debuts Ozone Theater. From this time through 2019, tens of thousands of students have learned about unhealthy air and its impact on health. In 2007, the program receives an EPA “Clean Air Excellence Award.”
John D. Wilson
John D. Wilson becomes Executive Director of GHASP/MfCA.
Air Exchange Meetings
GHASP and Mothers for Clean Air begin to host monthly Air Exchange meetings where Houston residents get to hear from and engage with local environmental experts and policymakers. The meetings are organized every month from 2004 through 2010.
Earth Day Celebration
MfCA begins hosting the largest Earth Day celebration in Houston. MfCA, and later Air Alliance Houston, continues to host the event from 2004 through 2016. An Annual Earth Day Art Auction is established to support AAH education outreach programs and to provide scholarships to local schools and students.
The GHASP Executive Director John Wilson and Board Members are invited to Houston City Hall to educate Houston Mayor Bill White on the state of Houston’s air quality following the Houston Chronicle’s landmark news series, In Harm’s Way. The Mayor commissions a study outlining air pollutants that pose the biggest health risks in the Greater Houston Area and the neighborhoods in which the risks are highest.
Sabrina Strawn is named as the Executive Director of GHASP/MfCA.
Dr. Matthew Tejada
Dr. Matthew Tejada is appointed as GHASP/MfCA’s new Executive Director.
GHASP and MfCA decide to join together as one organization: GHASP/MfCA. The previous activities of GHASP and MfCA fit together like pieces in a puzzle. The new organization combines and strengthens the goals of both organizations: to influence public policy on air quality and environmental health issues in order to protect the health of residents and improve their quality of life.
Results from GHASP/MfCA’s community-based ozone monitoring network prompt UH-Sugar Land to install ozone monitors that are quickly incorporated into the TCEQ’s monitoring network.
In January 2010, the new organization is renamed as Air Alliance Houston (AAH). Air Alliance Houston’s mission is to reduce the public health impacts from air pollution through equity-centered research, community education, and collaborative advocacy.
In November 2012, Air Alliance Houston, together with partner organizations, launches the Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC). Today, the HPCC continues to be a strong voice in advocating for the health and wellbeing of Houston’s portside communities disproportionately impacted by pollution from the Houston Ship Channel.
Dr. Matthew Tejada becomes Director of the Office of Environmental Justice of the US EPA. Adrian Shelley is appointed as the new Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston.
Galena Park Report
Air Alliance Houston publishes the final report and results of a year-long community air monitoring project at Galena Park. The results show unacceptable health risks due to diesel and particulate matter pollution and recommend several steps to reduce the residents’ exposure.
Air Alliance Houston helps pass anti-idling ordinances for heavy diesel vehicles in the cities of Houston, Galena Park and Jacinto City, and subsequently launches anti-idling campaign in the city of Pasadena. Avoiding idling time has multiple benefits, including reducing air pollution exposure, in particular that of children who breathe closer to the ground and therefore closer to vehicle tailpipes.
Petroleum Refinery Sector Rule
Intensive advocacy by Air Alliance Houston and other groups, starting with a lawsuit filed against the EPA in 2012 and subsequent benzene monitoring study in Galena Park, play a central role in the promulgation of a new EPA “Petroleum Refinery Sector Rule.” This legislation will reduce air emissions from petroleum refineries and install fenceline monitoring systems to protect neighboring communities.
Air Alliance Houston initiates its community engagement and advocacy efforts to limit concrete batch plants and their siting close to schools, parks and homes. AAH participates in community meetings with Lindale Farms neighbors to protest against the polluting activities and the around-the-clock noise of the Integrity Ready Mix and Aurora Ready Mix concrete batch plants.
Air Alliance Houston partners with other environmental groups to establish a collaborative effort, branded One Breath Partnership (OBP), in order to elevate awareness about the harmful effects of air pollution by amplifying the work of local researchers and encouraging affected residents to share their stories.
Dr. Bakeyah S. Nelson becomes the first woman of color to lead Air Alliance Houston in March 2017.
Recognizing the need to ensure a more equitable and resilient future for the region post-Hurricane Harvey, Dr. Nelson and Jennifer Powis (The Powis Firm) convene environmental and social justice groups to develop a common policy agenda, leading to the establishment of the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience (CEER) in 2018.
Air Alliance Houston files and wins two critical lawsuits – one against the EPA for delaying the Chemical Disaster Rule which requires facilities to strengthen their safety protections, and the other against the Chemical Safety Board for not complying with the Clean Air Act requirement to inform the public about the toxic releases from chemical incidents.
In March 2019, Dr. Bakeyah Nelson, testifies before the US Congress regarding stalled Clean Air Act enforcement since the 2016 Presidential Election.
ITC and KMCO fires
During March and April 2019, Air Alliance Houston staff lead the way in providing information to the public regarding the devastating ITC and KMCO industrial fires. The ITC fire cast thick plumes of toxic smoke over the region for several days, causing shelters-in-place and halting traffic in the Houston Ship Channel. The KMCO explosion kills one plant worker and injures 10 others. AAH, together with partners, express the urgent need to address the deficiencies in emergency preparedness, enforcement, and air monitoring by regulatory agencies.
Air Alliance Houston releases results of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Texas Department of Transportation’s North Houston Highway Improvement project (NHHIP), or I-45 expansion. The report informs decision-makers about the project’s potential harmful health effects to communities, specifically those impacting children that go to school nearby the planned expansion, and urges TxDOT to adopt a number of mitigation strategies.
Air Alliance Houston and partners advocate for a delay in the vote to move ahead with TxDOT’s controversial I-45 expansion project. Over 130 Houstonians rally on July 23 to air their concerns to the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council. Following the community outcry, the Council commits an additional $51.5 million toward community planning and mitigation.
Emergency Response Infrastructure
Air Alliance Houston and partners successfully advocate for the Harris County Commissioners Court to grow the county’s emergency response infrastructure. September 10, the Court unanimously votes in favor of investing a total of $11.6 million to modernize and better equip the fire marshal’s office, pollution control and public health departments.
Kinder Institute Study
A new study by Air Alliance Houston and the Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research documents the location of hazardous facilities and sites in Houston’s initial five pilot Complete Communities and associated health risks faced by people living near polluting industries.
Soto Ready Mix withdraws
On January 22, in a huge win for healthy neighborhoods everywhere, Soto Ready Mix withdraws its application to build a concrete batch plant in Houston’s Acres Homes neighborhood thanks to the resolute opposition of AAH, community leaders, and Houston’s elected representatives.
Nomadic Aggregates withdraws
In another big win for healthy communities, Nomadic Aggregates, LLC, withdraws its application to construct a concrete batch plant in Aldine during a public meeting on January 30, after being faced with fierce organizing and opposition from residents supported by AAH and elected officials.
While air quality in Houston has steadily improved, there’s still more to be done.