As we celebrate Black History Month this February, DHEC would like to take this opportunity to honor the past and present achievements of African Americans who have and are making a difference in the environment.
Keisha Long is the Environmental Justice Coordinator for DHEC. She is an advocate for vulnerable communities and is responsible for helping environmental justice communities build capacity, identify resources and establish collaborative partnerships. Keisha is the project manager for EJ Strong: Strengthening Communities for Disaster Risk Reduction, Response & Recovery in South Carolina.
She has been with DHEC for 25 years. Previously, Keisha worked as a Project Manager in the Superfund program and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Clemson University, is an active Toastmaster, loves music and is a former co-Chair on the advisory board of the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council.
Omar Muhammad serves as the Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities (LAMC) president. He is a participant of EJ Strong, an initiative where DHEC works collaboratively with low-income and minority communities in South Carolina to understand, promote and integrate approaches that provide meaningful and measurable improvements to public health and the environment. LAMC is the primary nonprofit for this grant.
Omar completed a nine-month training with the United States Environmental Protection (U.S. EPA) Region IV’s Environmental Justice Academy and was selected Valedictorian for the inaugural class. He is also a past participant in a joint EPA Region IV and DHEC Leaders in Environmental Action Pilot inaugural class.
He has successfully led efforts to engage the LAMC communities through various outreach strategies and is responsible for the success of an online mapping tool called EJRADAR as an engagement and empowerment tool for Environmental Justice communities. He successfully funded community research initiatives to train residents on the use of the EJRADAR online mapping tool, conduct a community-based health survey to assess health service gaps at the community level and conduct a zoning analysis for Environmental Justice communities.
Omar has also been instrumental in leveraging relationships with both academics and governmental agencies to assist in the development of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) with the help of the University of Maryland and the EPA Region IV. He is currently working with the Medical University of South Carolina on two projects to address health disparities challenges identified by the community, working with a graduate student from the University of South Carolina to improve communication and community engagement strategies and he has secured funding to purchase 10 personal air monitors to continue the community’s effort to spatially understand air quality in impacted communities of North Charleston, which includes sampling residents personal air spaces for pollution burden exposure using citizen science.
He sits on the Mitigation Agreement Commission (MAC) which advises LAMC on implementation of the Mitigation Agreement between the South Carolina State Ports Authority and LAMC; the executive board for the Union Heights Community Council; and the Charleston Community Research to Action Board (CCRAB).