Jeri Williams has been organizing with communities of color and low income communities in workplace and Environmental Justice since 1994. She has been educating students on EJ issues for over ten years through speaking engagements, conferences and teaching a senior capstone at PSU for five years.
Jeri was initially introduced to Environmental Justice issues in 1994 while working as a hotel worker exposed to toxic chemicals. From there she became an organizer for low income and workers of color to address on the job exposures and workers rights. Her work has also included participation in the creation of the 1998 Lead Comprehensive plan for the City of Portland and the Portland Brownfield Showcase community advisory committee, which is nationally known model of community involvement.
In 2000, Jeri was appointed by Governor Kitzhaber to the Portland/Vancouver Bi-state Transportation and Trade I-5 Corridor Task Force to address healthier solutions in transportation for our region. Some successes from that collaborative process is the creation of an ongoing EJ workgroup convened by the Oregon Department of Transportation and a 1% mitigation fund for the North/Northeast community. EJAG and the community also defeated the expansion of I-5 in 2001 in EJAG’s “No more lanes” campaign.
Also in 2000, Jeri co-founded the Urban Workers Union with the Worker’s organizing committee which organized Diamond parking lot attendants who won and election an a contract within a year of their conception. Since 2001 she has served on the Delta Park to Lombard project, overseen the community enhancement fund grants and is currently serving on the Columbia River Crossing Task Force.
In 2006, Jeri went to work for the City of Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement where she is a neighborhood program co-coordinator and the project manager for over $300,000 in funding for Diversity Leadership Programs. These projects fund community-based organizations of color and immigrant and refugee communities to build capacity within their organizations to teach and encourage civic engagement from their constituencies.