Farewell Note from Executive Director Bakeyah Nelson

Dear AAH Partners and Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I am writing to inform you that after over four years with Air Alliance Houston, my last day with the organization will be July 16, 2021. I will be transitioning to help lead a new initiative, the Climate Imperative, an initiative that will work to accelerate the transition toward renewables and decrease reliance on fossil fuels. Corey Williams, AAH’s Policy and Research Director, will serve as the Interim Executive Director while the AAH Board conducts a search for my replacement.

I am especially grateful for the time I’ve had to work with and learn from the communities we serve along with our other key allies in this work.  Learning from and partnering with community leaders has truly been an honor. I have also had the privilege of working alongside the most dedicated team members I could have hoped for – which makes this transition in particular incredibly challenging. The past 4+ years have been among some of the greatest and most challenging for AAH. From climate change-induced weather crises to chemical explosions and the COVID-19 epidemic, each year has been fraught with multiple disasters – each of which has disproportionately impacted communities of color and working-class neighborhoods – exacerbating inequities in health, wealth, and well-being.

These crises and catastrophes further galvanized organizations and communities across Houston (and Texas) and, through it all, we continue to work collaboratively to raise awareness and advocate with communities for change. Each and every crisis has been a painful reminder that there is so much more work to be done and we cannot do it alone. I am so proud to have been a part of this work and, more specifically, I’m honored to have been a part of the AAH team. I am confident that every member of the AAH team possesses the deep compassion and persistent dedication to environmental justice necessary to advance AAH’s mission and help ensure a more equitable future for Houston.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank the AAH Board of Directors for their unwavering support of our team. We would like to ask for your help in finding the next AAH Executive Director. I hope you will pass the position description along to your networks. Thank you for your support of our work and the communities we serve.

With gratitude,

Bakeyah Nelson

A message from the Board:

As you may have heard by now, Bakeyah has announced that she will be stepping down as Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston Friday, July 16. She will be transitioning to help lead a new initiative, the Climate Imperative, an initiative that will work to accelerate the transition toward renewables and decrease reliance on fossil fuels. 

First and foremost, to my great delight Bakeyah’s leaving opens a different way that she can further AAH’s mission: she has accepted our invitation to become a Board member immediately upon her resignation as Executive Director. We are beyond thrilled that Bakeyah will continue her critical contributions to address our area’s air quality and environmental justice challenges.

Before we look ahead, now is a good time to take stock of just how far we have come over the last four and a half years under Bakeyah’s leadership. Her vision of transforming our air quality advocacy with more focused attention to historical and ongoing environmental injustices has not only altered our focus, it has completely transformed our organization. It is a direction whose time had already come – Bakeyah made sure we caught up.

Bakeyah grounded our advocacy in the voices of those most adversely affected from inequitable air pollution. Whether it be fighting against concrete batch plants placed in communities of color, advocating for more effective regulations, or opposing highway expansions that threaten children’s health, Bakeyah has championed data-driven strategies and positioned AAH to work in partnership with communities to advocate for change. These efforts make it more likely that we all will breathe easier in Houston. 

Bakeyah would be the first to tell you that her accomplishments at AAH were not her own. Perhaps Bakeyah’s most lasting legacy is the team she has put in place, who under her guidance has flourished as leaders in their own right, and who are well-positioned to continue AAH’s important work. Our superb staff, to be led by interim-ED Corey Williams, is now the cornerstone of Bakeyah’s AAH legacy, and the rock upon which a new Executive Director will continue the work. The search for our new leader has begun, and we expect the next few months to be exciting times for AAH, as the board and staff work to ensure that we find a dynamic, creative, and mission-driven leader who can build upon the successful 2019 launch of our strategic plan and lead us to its fulfillment. I am confident that we will find an Executive Director with a true passion for AAH’s mission: to reduce the public health impacts from air pollution through applied research, education, and advocacy.

Please accept my sincere thanks to all of you who support and take interest in this mission, and my very best wishes for the summer as we all reacquaint ourselves with each other!

Jonathan Ross
President of the Board
Air Alliance Houston

Share this post