A Heartfelt Thank You! Reflecting on Our Journey of Resisting Injustice with Community Power

Dear Supporters, Participants, and Advocates,

As we take a moment to reflect on the recent event, “Resisting Injustice with Community Power,” hosted by CleanAirNow and Vecinos KC, our hearts swell with gratitude for the incredible support, engagement, and commitment shown by each and every one of you.

The event, centered around the theme of combating environmental injustice with the strength of community solidarity, was a powerful testament to the resilience and determination of individuals coming together to address systemic issues that affect us all. From the informative presentations to the insightful discussions, every aspect of the event underscored the urgent need for collective action in the fight for climate and environmental justice.

Throughout the event, we delved into the root causes of environmental injustice and racism, recognizing them as byproducts of deeply ingrained systemic inequalities in housing, healthcare access, and the allocation of resources. We shed light on the disproportionate burden borne by marginalized communities due to the siting of polluting industries and the historical legacy of discriminatory practices such as redlining.

Our esteemed panelists brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, offering invaluable insights into local and national efforts aimed at advancing environmental justice. Their impassioned advocacy for community-led solutions served as a beacon of hope, illustrating the power of grassroots organizing in effecting meaningful change.

We are also immensely grateful to Vecinos KC for their dedication and hard work in creating a comprehensive resources booklet, which will undoubtedly serve as a valuable tool for empowering communities and fostering informed activism.

The breakout sessions provided a platform for deeper engagement and collaboration, allowing participants to exchange ideas, share experiences, and strategize ways to continue the dialogue beyond the confines of the event. These intimate workshops exemplified the spirit of solidarity and mutual support that lies at the heart of our collective efforts.

As we express our gratitude to all who contributed to the success of this event, we are reminded of the importance of standing together in the face of injustice, amplifying the voices of those most affected, and advocating for policies that prioritize equity and sustainability.

Together, we have embarked on a journey towards a more just and equitable future—one where communities are empowered to shape their own destinies and where environmental justice is not just a distant dream but a tangible reality.

Once again, thank you to each and every one of you for your unwavering commitment to this cause. Let us continue to resist injustice with the power of community, knowing that our collective strength knows no bounds.

You can view the event presentation by following this link.

With deepest gratitude,


CleanAirNow is an environmental justice organization dedicated to combating air pollution and promoting clean air for all communities. 

Atenas Mena

Atenas Mena is the Environmental Health Director and shares a co-leadership role at CleanAirNow. Atenas was born and raised in Kansas City and is a proud first-generation Mexican American. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Avila University in 2014 and went on to receive her master’s in nursing leadership from Missouri Western State University in 2019.

In addition to working as a nurse, Atenas received extensive environmental health training in the field, working with the Children’s Mercy Environmental Health Program team, as both an educator and a team coordinator. She has worked continuously throughout the last few years with CleanAirNow through boots-on-the-ground projects, served on the board of directors, and has recently transitioned into the current leadership role as Environmental Health Director. Atenas centers her work around reducing health inequities, educating communities on environmental health impacts, and empowering community members to have a voice and fight for equity and environmental justice.

Atenas recently received The Sapling Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment and leadership in environmental health nursing. This Award seeks to recognize a nurse leader who goes beyond everyday nursing endeavors to actively promote and protect environmental and human health and advance environmental justice.

Beto Lugo Martinez

Beto is an environmental justice organizer and co-executive director of CleanAirNow. He serves to raise community voices in the fight against environmental racism and to overcome the systemic exclusion of frontline communities from the decision-making process. His lived experience, growing up fenceline to a petrochemical facility continues to drive his work at the intersection of climate, environmental justice, and public health. He is a founding member of the California Environmental Justice Coalition, Co-Founder of La Union Hace La Fuerza, a farmworker justice organization and member of national CJ & EJ networks including the EJ Leadership Forum, Building Equity and Alignment (BEA) and the National Leadership Advisory Board Member of the Moving Forward Network.

Beto’s contributions to the movement include organizing, legislation that prioritizes environmental justice and community-led research amongst many other community-engaged initiatives that directly inform state policy. He has co-authored multiple academic publications on community-based participatory research, air pollution, data accessibility, and community engagement. In August 2023 was invited to continue serving through 2025 as a member of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, to represent a grassroots frontline perspective. He also serves in advisory board roles of professional associations and academic institutions, such as the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity, Children’s Environmental Health Sciences Translational Research at USC, Community Engagement Core of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center at USC, Health Effects Institute Environmental Justice Advisory Group and USC MPH Public Health Advisory Board Member for the Trojan Scholars for Advancement in Public Health.

Beto is currently involved in a research project titled “Building Momentum to Bridge Climate and Health Across KU Campuses and the Community supported by the Health Humanities and Arts Research Collaborative, The Commons, and the Office of Research at the University of Kansas.”