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CCEAJ Makes Significant Strides Forward

CCAEJ Will Become Stronger and Fortified through Staff’s Experienced Leadership and Commitment to Higher Standards of Excellence

Jurupa Valley, CA – Esther Portillo and Ericka Flores have returned to the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ). Portillo returns after serving as the National Temporary Protective Status (TPS) Campaign Coordinator for Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) – LA. She will serve as the Interim Executive Director and lead CCAEJ through the process of seeking a permanent Executive Director, in concert with staff, community members, stakeholders, and partners. Meanwhile, Flores has spent the last year attending law school after having served CCAEJ as Organizing Director. Entering her second year as a law student, she now has returned to assist with grant coordination.

“We are thrilled to welcome Esther and Ericka back to CCAEJ.  Esther’s dynamic leadership skills and experience in the Inland Empire, as well as Ericka’s return, will be instrumental as we reaffirm our commitment to our pursuit for environmental justice,” stated Board of Directors President, Gracie Torres.

Portillo brings over 20 years of experience in organizing and empowering communities of Color across the region, state, and nation.

“I am excited to return to CCAEJ, a longstanding organization with over 40 years of serving the community. Through my leadership, we will prioritize organizational stability and standards of excellence. All the while, we will work towards bringing people together and improving our social and natural environment,” stated Portillo.

Portillo previously worked for CCAEJ as the Organizing Director from 2005-2008 and 2016-2018, playing a key role in the $11 million cleanup settlement that helped protect drinking water in Rialto and removing toxic tanks in the West Side community of San Bernardino.

Joining Portillo on Staff, Flores has over 10 years of experience organizing and leading campaigns in the Inland Empire through her previous affiliation with CCAEJ.  She has a passion to ensure environmental and social justice provides a collective equity focus.

“Coming back to CCAEJ at this time is a landmark moment in my life. I am thankful for my community and those who have stood with me during these moments and I look forward to stepping into this role to help shape CCAEJ’s new path,” stated Flores.

Portillo’s leadership will be essential in continuing existing work helping families through CCAEJ’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, advocating for a Community Benefits Agreement in coordination with the San Bernardino Airport Communities Leadership Committee, and fighting the World Logistics Center in Moreno Valley, as well as preserving the protections of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Joining Portillo and Flores in the interim, will be Ana Gonzalez who will serve as the Finance and Administration Director to oversee the organization’s budget, finances, and grants. Gonzalez is seasoned in budgetary matters and brings years of experience to the position. Faraz Rizvi, a local Inland Empire organizer, will also join CCAEJ to lead our critical communications efforts. Rizvi has a wealth of experience working with local and national electoral campaigns.

In addition to all the exciting new changes taking place, CCAEJ is happy to announce Adonis Galarza-Toledo is also joining as interim civic engagement coordinator.  Lastly, our intern, Ivette Torres has officially become a part of the CCAEJ team, serving in the capacity of interim policy coordinator.  “I am looking forward to working alongside and welcoming community leaders like Ana, Faraz, Ivette, and Adonis to CCAEJ,” said President Torres.

CCAEJ is certain each will make a positive contribution as members of our staff and to our relationships with community members, stakeholders, and partners.

CCAEJ is a long-standing community-based organization with over 40 years of experience advocating for stronger regulations through strategic campaigns and building a base of community power. Most notably, CCAEJ’s founder Penny Newman won a landmark federal case against Stringfellow Construction which resulted in the `Stringfellow Acid Pits’ being declared one of the first Superfund sites in the nation. Moving forward, CCAEJ is positive each of the new staff members, along with existing staff, will prioritize the voices of the community as we continue our grassroots efforts to bring lasting environmental justice to the Inland Empire.

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