March 2021 EcoHour: Women Leaders for Georgia’s Waters
Date: Wednesday, March 24, 12-1pm
In celebration of World Water Day and Women’s History Month, hear from women leading the way to conserve and protect Georgia’s rivers and waterways. EarthShare Georgia’s Eco Hour, which will be held on Wednesday, March 24 from 12 noon-1 pm, features three of our member groups: Juliet Cohen, Executive Director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper; Rena Ann Peck, Executive Director of the Georgia River Network; and Na’Taki Osborne-Jelks, Co-Founder and Board Chair, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. They will share ways they are making an impact and how we all have a role to play in sustaining clean and plentiful water for all Georgians.
Juliet Cohen, Executive Director, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
Juliet Cohen was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There she grew up surrounded by and immersed in pristine tropical waters and rainforests, and developed a love and respect for the natural world. Juliet earned a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Political Science from the University of Miami, Florida, in 1995, with an emphasis in marine biology.
After earning her undergraduate degree, Juliet worked in Washington, D.C. for an environmental education organization, Earth Force. Later she moved to Charleston, South Carolina, to work for the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League as Program Manager for the South Carolina More Than A Port project and volunteered as Conservation Chair for the local Sierra Club chapter.
In 2001, Juliet began studying law at American University’s Washington College of Law where she served on the American University Law Review. She graduated in 2004 with honors Magna Cum Laude and a member of Order of the Coif.
From 2005 to 2007, Juliet worked as a Staff Attorney for the Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals. Juliet has served as Executive Director for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper since January 2015.
Juliet and her husband, Jeffrey, reside in Brookhaven along with their three children.
Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Ph.D., MPH, Co-Founder/Board Chairperson, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks co-founded the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), a community-based environmental justice organization that works to grow a cleaner, greener, healthier, more sustainable West Atlanta through authentic community engagement, organizing, education, watershed stewardship, community science, and participatory research. In her role with WAWA, Jelks leads efforts to advance environmental justice, community-centered watershed restoration, equitable development, health equity, and resilience on Atlanta’s Westside. She also oversees the organization’s efforts to provide equitable access to place-based, culturally relevant environmental education and connections to nature for all Atlanta residents regardless of race, class, or geography.
When she is not revitalizing toxic spaces into healthy places, Dr. Jelks teaches and trains the next generation of environmental leaders as an Assistant Professor in the Environmental and Health Sciences Program at Spelman College. She investigates environmental health disparities; contact with nature as a tool for health promotion; green gentrification and health; climate change impacts on vulnerable populations, and connections between urban watersheds, pollution, the built environment, and health. Jelks also champions community-academic partnerships in which she trains students and West Atlanta residents to be co-researchers who monitor local environmental condition—helping them produce actionable data to press for solutions to community environmental health challenges.
Rena Peck, Executive Director, Georgia River Network
Rena Peck is the Executive Director of Georgia River Network. Georgia River Network is the leading voice for river conservation in our state, connecting people to rivers, so they become stewards and advocate for their protection. Rena is leading an advocacy campaign to protect the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge from mining.
Prior to Georgia River Network Rena Ann spent 17 years as the contract ecologist to The Coca-Cola Company brokering ecosystem services via a network of landscape-scale watershed restoration projects to achieve “water neutrality” for the company. She helped develop Coca-Cola bottlers’ watershed conservation partnerships, marine debris removal initiatives and recycling.
Rena began her conservation career as an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy for nine years, managing ecosystem restoration programs to enhance wildlife habitats and protect water sources. She served as Director of Science and Development for the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust where she secured natural capital funding for conservation.
Rena serves on the board of directors for Wilderness Works, bridging the outdoor adventure gap for children of color. She holds a Master’s Degree in Renewable Natural Resources from The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture.