Donna Hope, EcoDistricts AP, MScEng, and LEED Green Associate, is a freelance environmental consultant with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Learn more about Donna and her work at Mt. Eastern Joy.
Donna Hope has always had a natural affinity to nature and the outdoors, even from when she was a young child. Recognizing this, her mother brought her to a talk by Dr. Lilia Abron, the first Black woman to get a PhD in chemical engineering and to start an environmental consulting firm in the country. It was then that Donna knew she wanted to be like her, and eventually earned a Master of Science in environmental engineering.
As a woman of color living in the coastal city of New York and with Caribbean heritage, Donna believes that resilience from increasing threats of climate change is of paramount importance. As is fair access to living wage career opportunities in sustainability for and in vulnerable communities.
Donna is a co-op owner in a mid-level income controlled, self-managed, mixed rental/co-op residence in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. She continues to see displacement and gentrification disguised as positive progress. Cultural hubs (community centers, churches) and neighborhood services (gas stations, bodegas) are razed to make room for luxury developments that are unaffordable and therefore largely vacant. Meanwhile, there are 19 homeless shelters and more planned to open in the same district. This juxtaposition of prioritizing the wealthy while devaluing historical cultural presence and contributions in ethnic neighborhoods is problematic.
As recently stated in the New York Times, “The community is battling for some middle ground. There is as much disdain for what will be the area’s first Citi Bike docking station, a symbol of gentrification, as there is for homeless shelters, often equated with blight and crime.”
How to improve conditions of historic and diverse neighborhoods which actually increase access for those very communities? The increasing vocal and written acknowledgment of the intersectionality within the justice movements – environmental, climate, social, racial, gender, queer – is exciting, but Donna is actively seeking pathways to dismantle those very systems that support this oppression, de-center the white patriarchal hegemony, and empower the marginalized.
This is part of what motivated Donna to become an EcoDistricts Accredited Professional™, and to join a global community of practitioners prepared to accelerate the equitable, resilient, sustainable neighborhoods of tomorrow. She wanted to use her LEED Green Associate, engineering background, policy experience and commitment to justice to as part of a more inclusive planning model that addresses issues around displacement and gentrification. With EcoDistricts, the possibilities for meaningful engagement in diverse and inclusive spaces, and to influence policy, urban planning and development decisions are real.
Donna has worked in various capacities of environmental vocations, and currently freelances as a consultant with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The mainstream, most visible, and well-resourced environmental movements continue to be white-led and only marginally engaged with the most impacted and disenfranchised – communities of color. Donna sees it as her priority to continue to advocate to shift this paradigm to center people of color, indigenous people, low-wealth communities in tackling all environmental issues.
Join the Global Community
Join Donna, and mark your professional commitment to putting people and planet at the center of every urban development decision. Become an expert on the practical implementation of the EcoDistricts sustainable urban development framework across a wide array of district typologies and challenges.
Become an EcoDistricts Member and get:
- $100 discount on EcoDistricts Accredited Professional Exam
- Listing in EcoDistricts Community Directory
- Access to the EcoDistricts Information Exchange
- $100 discount on EcoDistricts Foundation Course
- $15 discount on Certification Handbook