Recognizing Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, International Leader for Environmental Justice


The Environmental Health Strategy Center this year recognizes international environmental justice leader Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali as the winner of our 2019 Frank Hatch Environmental Health Leadership Award.

“Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali has passionately championed environmental justice for decades,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Strategy Center. “The most vulnerable in our society—infants and children, poor people, communities of color—bear the worst burden of toxic pollution and climate impacts. Dr. Ali has inspired us and many others to demand that all people have equal access to safe food and water, clean air, and thriving communities that are toxic-free and climate-friendly.”

Please join us in honoring Dr. Ali at the 2019 Celebration for Our Healthy Future on Thursday, October 17, in South Portland, Maine. Dr. Ali will speak about the intersection of climate work, toxic chemical pollution, and environmental justice at this not-to-be-missed event.

A pioneering thought leader, international speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator, Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali currently serves as the Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation. He is also the founder of Revitalization Strategies, a business focused on moving our most vulnerable communities from “surviving to thriving.”

In all his work, Dr. Ali uses a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities, and has worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to secure environmental, health, and economic justice. 

Dr. Ali began his career with 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. He began working on social justice issues at the age of 16 and joined the EPA as a student. Dr. Ali’s public resignation from the EPA in 2017 garnered international headlines, and his letter of resignation to Scott Pruitt was a poignant and powerful call on the new EPA administrator to defend our most vulnerable communities.

Dr. Ali wrote, in part:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We may have come to these shores on different ships, but we are now all in the same boat”. The upcoming choices you make will have significant impacts on the public health and environment of our country. Those choices can stand as a beacon of hope, and as a powerful role model to the rest of the world on our priorities and values. Those choices will be magnified ten-fold in our most vulnerable communities and will highlight the value we place on the lives in those communities who are too often overlooked and forgotten.

At the EPA, Dr. Ali most recently served as senior advisor for environmental justice and community revitalization and assistant associate administrator, working to elevate environmental justice issues and strengthening environmental justice policies, programs, and initiatives. Dr. Ali worked for EPA administrators beginning with William Riley and ending with Scott Pruitt.

Before joining the National Wildlife Federation, Dr. Ali was the senior vice president for the Hip Hop Caucus, a national non-profit and non-partisan organization that connects the hip-hop community to the civic process to build power and create positive change. In his role, he led the strategic direction, expansion, and operation of the Hip Hop Caucus’ portfolio on climate, environmental justice, and community revitalization.

Throughout his career, Dr. Ali has conducted more than 1,000 presentations across the country, including speeches, training, and guest lectures at over 100 colleges and universities. He is a former instructor at West Virginia University and Stanford University. 

Dr. Ali currently serves as a board member for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists, Rodenberry Foundation, TREE, and Climate Hawks Vote. He is frequently seen on television, including appearances on MSNBC, CNN, VICE, BET, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Democracy NOW! Mustafa is also a regular guest on WURD radio, Roland Martin UnfilteredThe Dean Obeidallah Show, and many others, and is the former co-host of the live radio show and podcast Think 100%: The Coolest Show on Climate Change with Grammy-nominated singer and actress Antonique Smith and civil rights icon Rev. Lennox Yearwood.

Please join us in recognizing Dr. Ali's work at the 2019 Celebration for Our Healthy Future.

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Given to an exemplary leader whose actions over a lifetime have created a significant positive impact on environmental public health, the Frank Hatch Environmental Health Leadership Award pays tribute to Frank Hatch (1925-2010), an extraordinary public servant, activist, and philanthropist whose achievements are a source of inspiration about the power of public engagement and advocacy. Following a highly regarded political career, Frank championed and led nationally renowned campaigns to protect Maine’s environment and public health. His leadership at the helm of the John Merck Fund launched the Environmental Health Strategy Center in 2002 and led to the passage of the landmark Kid Safe Products Act in 2008. A lifelong New England resident, Frank Hatch was also a civic and cultural leader recognized for his contributions to the arts.