On May 5 and 6, The Greenlining Institute hosted our annual Economic Summit -- Momentum: A Virtual Summit on Racial Equity. As we breathe a collective sigh of relief that our democracy has withstood its biggest modern-day test, we know that now is no time for complacency. Our six panels captured how this moment is a time of momentum -- a time for advocates, organizers, activists, and artists to come together to strengthen the movement for equity.

Equity Lab

Building a Just and Healthy Economy

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, our system was already broken. The racial wealth gap, displacement and gentrification were destroying communities of color and climate disasters were already a predictable part of the national news cycle. Now, in the midst of the worst economic downturn in decades, this is our time to build a new economic system that radically meets the needs of people of color.

Attendees will have the chance to participate in roundtable conversations with racial equity leaders and learn tools to put equity into practice. With two concurrent sessions on ‘Power Building’ and ‘Policy in Action’, attendees and speakers will explore how to center communities of color and greenline our economy.

Building Power: This session explored how we can organize and build power in our communities to build a better economy after COVID.

Moderated by Brianna Wells, Health Equity Fellow, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Emi Wang, Associate Director of Capacity Building, The Greenlining Institute
  • Alberto Retana, President & Chief Executive Officer, Community Coalition
  • Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, Collective Member & Co-Director, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project
Policy in Action: This session explored strategies and visions for building equity into our policy response for COVID recovery.

Moderated by Brianna Wells, Health Equity Fellow, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Emi Wang, Associate Director of Capacity Building, The Greenlining Institute
  • Alberto Retana, President & Chief Executive Officer, Community Coalition
  • Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, Collective Member & Co-Director, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project

Day 1: Meeting the Moment
Breakout Sessions

On day one of our 28th Annual Economic Summit,  a trio of breakout sessions took deep dives into complex and important issues, with discussions on National and State Approaches to Achieve Clean Mobility Equity, How is the Private Sector Meeting the Moment, and How Can Community-Led Transformation Undo Legacies of Racist Policy? The discussions were sometimes nerdy and always enlightening. Greenlining’s own Emi Wang summed up what a lot of us were thinking during the discussion on community-led transformation: “This work happens long-term. It needs to be sustainable.” Indeed it does!

National and State Approaches to Achieve Clean Mobility Equity

The Biden administration has made bold statements about investing in clean transportation and mobility strategies to advance climate justice and resilience. While federal leadership and support is crucial to opening up new opportunities, we need to think beyond a blanket national approach to clean mobility equity. True mobility equity requires programs and strategies that foster community-led ideas and decision-making power to meet community needs. This session will bring together thinkers and leaders from around the country to discuss the types of clean mobility equity programs that should be replicated and scaled up.

Moderated by Isa Gaillard, Transformative Communities Program Manager, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Marcel Porras, Chief Sustainability Officer, Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • Dr. Shelley Francis, Co-Founder, EV Hybrid Noire
  • Beth Osborne, Director, Transportation for America

How Can Community-Led Transformation Undo
Legacies of Racist Policy?

Our neighborhoods have been shaped and carved out by exclusionary and racist public policies, policies that segregated African Americans and other communities of color into less desirable neighborhoods and then starved those neighborhoods of public dollars, services and resources. Against this backdrop of structural disinvestment and neglect, communities are pushing back and building solutions from the ground up.

This session will take a dive into one such example as a case study for community-led transformation: the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program is a grant program that makes catalytic climate investments in California’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. Using TCC as an example, we’ll explore how to design equitable policy and we’ll hear directly from communities about all that goes into community transformation: from building power to turning local visions into tangible projects that are ready to be funded.

Moderated by Emi Wang, Associate Director of Capacity Building, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Dora Frietze-Armenta, Lead Project Planner, Pacoima Beautiful
  • Marquita Price, Director of Urban and Regional Planning, East Oakland Collective

How are Private Sector and Major Institutions
Meeting the Moment

2020 was a big year for corporate accountability. Across the globe, corporations made pledges to challenge the status quo, develop better commitments to social justice, corporate social responsibility, and transform outdated DEI behaviors and beliefs. The scale of the large institutions is massive, with great influence and impacts on democracy, systemic racism and the environment. This session will discuss the many ways corporations are responding to calls to build equity and justice into their business and community practices.

Moderated by Debra Gore-Mann, President & Chief Executive Officer, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Kleber Santos, Head of Diverse Segments Representation and Inclusion, Wells Fargo
  • Natalie K. Schilling, Vice President of People Culture and Strategy,
    Southern California Edison
  • Angela Jenkins, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Day 2: Galvanizing the Next Wave of Change
Breakout Sessions

On day two, another series of in-depth discussions looked at critical issues for our communities: Algorithmic Equity Now: Why Regulating AI is an Urgent Racial Justice Issue; The Case for Reparations in Closing the Racial Wealth Gap   Just & Equitable Decarbonization: BIPOC Community Stories Across California. While focused on specific topics, all of the discussions recognized they’re part of a larger picture. As Bay Area Plan Executive Director Pecolia Manigo Awobodu put it in the reparations discussion, “When we hear this narrative that you cannot create systems change because it’s impossible, we push back.”

Algorithmic Equity Now:
Why Regulating AI is an Urgent Racial Justice Issue

From determining whether or not you may receive unemployment benefits to when you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine, algorithms make decisions every day that impact the health and wealth of communities of color. However, algorithms often opaquely make decisions that exacerbate discrimination. This panel will explore why regulating AI is a racial justice issue and how we can approach regulating AI in a way that protects and uplifts communities of color.

Moderated by Serena Oduro, Technology Equity Fellow, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Vinhcent Le, Economic Equity Legal Counsel, The Greenlining Institute
  • Dr. Sara R. Jordan, Senior Counsel, Artificial Intelligence and Ethics, The Future of Privacy Forum
  • Mutale Nkonde, Chief Executive Officer, AI For The People

The Case for Reparations in Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

Since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, conversations on reparations have gained increasing momentum. In Fall 2020, California passed legislation to develop a task force to study the impact of reparations for African Americans. This represents an enormous opportunity to address systemic racism and move toward justice and equity for African Americans, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that has disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx communities. In this session panelists will discuss how government, foundations, and nonprofits can work together to help close the racial wealth gap through reparations in California — and consider how California’s statewide efforts can serve as a framework for reparations initiatives across the country.

Moderated by Kelsey Lyles, Senior Policy Manager of Transformative Racial Equity, The Greenlining Institute

Speakers:

  • Jesse Van Tol, Chief Executive Officer, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
  • Mekaelia Davis, Program Director, Surdna Foundation
  • Pecolia Manigo Awobodu, Executive Director, Bay Area Plan

Just & Equitable Decarbonization: BIPOC Community Stories Across California

As entire states like California move away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy options, we must improve the buildings where we live, work, and play — a major source of carbon emissions and health impacts. A just and equitable transition towards electrification requires Black, Indigenous, and people of color organizers and communities to lead the way, as they have been the most historically excluded, systemically impacted, and hit first and worst by climate change. This session will feature seasoned local BIPOC leaders across California sharing stories, strategies, barriers and lessons learned from their efforts to center equity in decarbonization work, focused on the people most impacted. Speakers will discuss how equitable decarbonization can meet local community needs, build resilience, offer protections, and provide potential workforce and bill savings options to frontline communities.

Moderated by Katie Valenzuela, Environmental Justice Consultant

Speakers:

  • Abigail Solis, Sustainable Energy Solutions Manager, Self-Help Enterprises
  • Antonio Diaz, Organizational Director, PODER
  • Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment
  • Leslie Martinez, Community Engagement Specialist, Leadership Counsel
  • Martha Dina Arguello, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles