Who We Are

CleanAirNow organizing efforts began in Armourdale and Argentine Kansas. In 2020 under new leadership, it began its efforts to disrupt and dismantle environmental racism and institutional structures of oppression.

What is CleanAirNow?

CleanAirNow is an environmental justice organization dedicated to combating air pollution and promoting clean air for all communities. The organization works to address the disproportionate burden of air pollution on marginalized and low-income communities, often located near industrial facilities, highways, and other sources of pollution.

CleanAirNow engages in advocacy, community organizing, and policy initiatives.

Aimed at reducing harmful emissions, improving air quality standards, and protecting public health. The organization collaborates with local residents, environmental groups, policymakers, and other stakeholders to raise awareness about the impacts of air pollution and advocate for equitable solutions.

Charting a Course for Environmental and Health
Equity: Our Mission and Vision for a Just, Healthy Future

Welcome to our journey of transformative change, where we are driven by a mission and vision that resonates with the core values of environmental equity. At the heart of our purpose is a commitment to fostering a world where every community, regardless of race or income, experiences fair treatment, equal protection, and access to a healthy environment.

Mission

CleanAirNow is a community-led organization that creates systemic change in existing policies and practices to protect health, and dismantle environmental racism that perpetuates the unequal distribution of environmental hazards in fenceline communities.

Vision

CleanAirNow’s leadership envision is a zero emissions future where all people live together in a healthy environment.

Pursuing Environmental Justice:
Unveiling Our Aspirations and Collective Goals
for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Air Pollution Monitoring

Air pollution monitoring activities of the Diesel Health Project, with a focus on monitoring in overburdened communities near major polluting sites and transportation corridors.

Empowerment

We work to enable and empower youth and adults in the region’s most vulnerable communities to organize, lead, and advocate for their communities.

Policy Development

Advocate for local community protections, regulations, and enforcement.

Education

We educate community members, youth, college students, and professionals.

The Core of Our Team

We’re happy to say that our team is what makes us strong and unite. Here are our beloved team members that make us who we are.

Atenas Mena

Executive Director

Atenas Mena is a first-gen Mexican American from Kansas City, holds a Master’s in Nursing Leadership. She gained expertise through Children’s Mercy, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environment, UC Davis, and CleanAirNow. As CleanAirNow’s executive director, she advocates for health equity and environmental justice.

Rayan Makarem

Director of Environmental Justice Policy

With a background in biology and environmental sciences, Rayan Makarem, holds a Master’s in environmental policy. He worked in state agencies and NGOs, focusing on clean water/air regulations and equitable policies. Joining CleanAirNow in 2022, he advocates for environmental justice policies.

Ana Ramos

Community Organizer

Ana Ramos, residing in Armourdale, Wyandotte, has served her community for 20+ years. As a Canaan Church member and community volunteer, she’s been a secretary, educator, and health promoter. Joining CleanAirNow in 2021, she advocates for environmental justice.

Carlos Ramos

Community Science

Carlos R. Ramos, born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1965, immigrated to the United States in 1989, settling in Riverview and Armoudale. Witnessing industrial changes, he volunteered with CAN in April 2022 and began installing air monitors in October, striving to mitigate pollution for future generations.

Ilham Abuanga

Accounting Consultant

Ilham Abuanga, a Sudanese immigrant, has called Kansas City home for nearly 25 years. As an Accounting Consultant at CleanAirNow, she leverages financial expertise to advance environmental justice initiatives. With extensive experience in finance and community leadership, Ilham is committed to making a positive impact.

Jose Luis Ascencio

Web Designer

José Luis Ascencio, a technology enthusiast since 2008, specializes in website design and development. Recognized by Microsoft, he pursued his passion while studying Computer Science. Transitioning to marketing, he excelled as a Web Designer and SEO Manager. Today, he freelances on web and ecommerce projects, balancing work with personal pursuits.

Board of Directors

The board is responsible for determining the mission and purposes of the
organization.

Eric Kirkendall

Chair and Treasurer of Board

Alejandra Frias Friaire

Board Member

CleanAirNow Bylaws & Charter

CleanAirNow Bylaws

Learn more about our organization by reading this document. Click on the title to read it.

CleanAirNow Charter

Learn more about our organization by reading this document. Click on the title to read it.

Shopping Basket

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.”