Podcast: Vien Truong — An Environmental Hero for Our Times

By Aimee Allison for Democracy in Color


I’ve known Vien Truong for about ten years. It was a special experience to have her in the studio and have her on my podcast. Still in her thirties, she is one of the country’s foremost policy experts and strategists on building an equitable green economy. Given how many promises the current occupant of the White House has made to change (aka rollback) U.S. science and environmental policy — to the detriment of our planet and collective health — we should all be grateful that there are green champions like Truong out there each day fighting the good fight.

Truong leads Green For All, a national initiative that places communities of color at the forefront of the climate movement and equality at the center of environmental solutions. As she likes to say, (and as she described recently in her op-ed in Fast Company) it’s a nonprofit that works to build an inclusive green economy that’s strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

“Often the problem when you are of low-income, policies are done to us, not for us. What we do is make sure that people of color are at the forefront of the climate movement, and reflect what we need in our communities.” ~ Vien Truong, Director, Green For All

Truong has developed numerous energy, environmental, transportation, and economic policies and programs at the state, federal and local levels. She has advised on billions of dollars in public investments for energy and community development programs — including helping to create the largest fund in history for low-income communities.

A refugee from Vietnam, and youngest child in a family of 11 children, Truong grew up in Oakland, California. She is fierce and determined (and a mother of twin toddler boys to boot!) and works tirelessly to ensure that policies and politics reflect what the people living in underserved communities need and want. Last month, in May, she gave the keynote speech the the EU Green Jobs Summit in Brussels.

Her work includes ongoing organizing and advocating for the residents of Flint, Michigan. She persists in shining a light on how that community continues to live with tainted drinking water that contains lead and other toxins, a crisis that stemmed from cost-cutting measures. She has organized political activists, celebrities (including actor Mark Ruffalo and producer Russell Simmons), and other allies to leverage their platforms to expose how the crisis in Flint continues. Her work has led to increased media attention and funding for residents in Flint.

Green For All, a national initiative that puts communities of color at the forefront of the climate movement and equality at the center of environmental solutions.

“What I now know is that we have to get deeper in touch with our real power, which is who we really are: our ancestors’ hopes and dreams that are within us…That is where the country is lacking. They are leading with their heads, rather than their hearts.” ~ Vien Truong, Director, Green For All

Truong also prioritizes encouraging and promoting the political leadership of women, especially women of color.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric from University of California, Berkeley and received her law degree from U.C. Hastings in San Francisco. Prior to her current position, she was deputy chief executive officer at Dream Corps and director of environmental equity at The Greenling Institute. She also served for five years as the chair of Oakland’s Planning Commission. She is past recipient of the White House Climate Equity Award.

Read the full article with podcast here.

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