Jackie Young is one of the three people receiving Local Peacemaker Awards at the 2016 HPJC Peacemaker Awards Dinner.
Jackie Young is the Executive Director and founder of Texas Health and Environment Alliance, the home of the San Jacinto River Coalition. She currently holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Geology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL). As an Undergraduate, Jackie focused her research around environmental issues in the small town her family called home, Highlands, Texas. Additionally, she assisted a joint research project between UHCL and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate Center of Excellence’s Coastal Hazard Center located at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This study evaluated small coastal communities in both Texas and North Carolina in order to understand what facilitates and hinders post-disaster housing recovery.
Jackie’s efforts as an environmental activist began when she was a junior at UHCL. Through a case study in her hydrology course, she discovered her surrounding environment was likely the cause of her family and animal’s illnesses.
In 2013 Jackie took a position full-time with a local non-profit to work towards removal of the Waste Pits Superfund Site located in Highlands. Since then, Jackie has been invited by the EPA to serve on the Waste Pits Community Advisory Committee as well as a panelist and guest speaker at the EPA Region 6 Environmental Justice Workshop. The Waste Pits have been featured in over 65 news stories and local support has grown to over 2000 supporters. In 2014, Jackie was selected by Citizens League for Environmental Action Now (CLEAN Houston) for the Houston Heroes series People Who Make a Difference. Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, Nick Anderson, was the first to illustrate the unfortunate events that Young’s family endured and turned into action. A series of high profile editorial cartoons by Mr. Anderson published in the Houston Chronicle in 2014. Following this, another look at Jackie’s personal journey and efforts at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits was published in the Houston Press in November of 2014 and in Texas Monthly Magazine in April of 2015. Most recently, The Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter awarded Jackie with the 2015 Environmental Justice Award and the Baytown Sun named Jackie as a finalist for 2016 Citizen of the Year and one of 20 people under 40 who are making a difference in the community.
In 2015, Jackie created and executed a successful local and statewide campaign to allocate $20 million in government settlement funds to be used exclusively within a five-mile radius of the Waste Pits Site. Additionally, she worked with Texas Department of State Health Services on a study of the cancer occurrences in East Harris County. The study resulted in the discovery of increased incidents of certain types of cancer in children and people of all ages. This led to an unprecedented step by the State Agency to further study the findings.
Building upon the success of the San Jacinto River Coalition, Jackie founded Texas Health and Environment Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting water resources, public health, and Galveston Bay’s precious estuary from the harmful effects of toxic waste. Through Jackie’s personal experience, she developed a passion to fight for environmental justice and plans to continue working to make our region a safer place for future generations.