Chelsea resident Maria Belen Power has been appointed as a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC).
Belen Power began her participation on the Council in March, having been officially welcomed to the group by Vice President Kamala Harris and White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy at the first meeting.
Belen Power said the Council was given its first task which was to produce recommendations for President Joseph Biden in the areas of: the Justice-40, initiative, which is the investment in underserved communities; shaping the new Executive Order on environmental justice; and the screening tool that will help the Biden Administration direct the funds to communities that need the most assistance for environmental justice issues.
Belen Power will also serve on a WHEJAC subcommittee, the Justice-40 working group.
Belen Power’s prestigious appointment to WJEJAC has been praised by local officials who have who have witnessed her outstanding work on environmental justice issues for the powerful GreenRoots organization, which is based in Chelsea. Belen Power is the associate executive director of GreenRoots and will continue her work in the community-based organization.
Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, said, “María Belén is dedicated to achieving environmental justice in Chelsea and throughout the nation. GreenRoots is thrilled to have our voice being heard at the White House and with the Biden Administration.”
Belen Power said WHEJAC’s recommendations will be presented to the Biden Administration and then directed to 26 agencies and departments within the Federal Government.
“It’s very exciting to be a member of the Council,” said Belen Power, who is widely recognized as an articulate voice for environmental justice in this region. “I was sort of caught off guard at the significance of this Council and trying to take it in and process it. It’s incredible that we have a voice in shaping policy at the Federal level.”
Belen Power has received congratulatory wishes and support in her new position from U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. It was President Joseph Biden who made the appointment of Belen Power to the unpaid, voluntary position on WHEJAC.
A native of Nicaragua, Belen Power is a graduate of Augsburg University in Minnesota. She received her Master’s degree in Public Policy from Tufts University. She started working at the Chelsea Collaborative in 2011 and began in her position at GreenRoots in 2016.
Belen Power said she is looking forward to meeting President Biden when WHEJAC assembles for a future conference in Washington, D.C. Interestingly, Belen Power is considering a run for political office in the 2021 municipal election.