The Women’s Foundation of California is proud to introduce you to the 2016–2017 class of Women’s Policy Institute–State (WPI) fellows. This visionary group of grassroots and community leaders is embarking on a year-long intensive training program that will enable them to effect change at the center of California’s policymaking: the Capitol in Sacramento.
Abigail Ramirez is a member of the WPI environmental justice advocacy team, as well as policy advocate at the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability. We asked Abigail to share a bit about her story.
You are a member of the environmental justice team. How did you come to be so committed to this work?
At a young age, I became interested in policy advocacy work. My mother was an undocumented farmworker for most of her life. We lived on the most impoverished side of town, and in high school I began to realize that poverty, immigration status and race directly correlated to environmental injustice and health impacts in my community. I realized that my community looked different than other, more affluent communities, and because of this, low-income communities of color like mine were burdened by higher levels of pollution and pesticide exposure.
What drew you to the WPI program? Why did you apply?
I was drawn to the WPI program because it offers a safe space for professional women to directly engage in the policy process. It gives women the opportunity to be in political spaces that are often not available to us. The WPI program also gives women the opportunity to develop useful skills that can be taken back to the communities we work in.
If you could tell Governor Jerry Brown one thing about your issue area and the people most impacted by your work, what would it be?
Low-income, communities of color are the most affected by pollution. Safe land use and investment in these communities is vital in creating safe communities to live for all.