Watch Priscilla De La Cruz Carry Out Climate Justice in Frontline Communities

Director of Sustainability, City of Providence

Tell us about yourself, your connection to Providence, and your work.

Growing up in Providence, I was motivated by the challenges of energy and economic uncertainties that I witnessed my Dominican family experiencing, heightened by poor air quality and severe asthma. Shortly after graduating from Rhode Island College, I worked for local nonprofits, dedicating my career to making green energy accessible, advancing environmental protection, and addressing climate justice issues. After completing a master’s degree at Harvard University, I fully leaned into my advocacy voice to lead coalitions like the Environment Council of RI and Climate Jobs RI, where I fostered collaboration on state policies to further climate action.


What’s your motivation for doing this work?

Today, I remain driven by the goal of improving quality of life for Providence residents and creating more opportunities and access for communities to thrive.


In what ways do you hope to leave an impact on our city in the coming months?

As Providence’s director of sustainability, my priority is implementing the Climate Justice Plan and honoring its intentional framework that centers racial equity and meaningful community engagement. When we center the voices of communities of color, Indigenous people, and low-income neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by pollution and decades of disinvestment, we’re committing to not leaving any of our frontline communities behind.


What challenges do you anticipate having to overcome in 2024 to achieve these goals?

The reality is that we must adapt to a warming climate and support the resiliency of our communities as we work to lessen the impacts of climate change. As we do our part to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions – like the carbon dioxide from the fossil fuel energy we consume – extreme weather events will continue to increase, further exacerbating the challenges our frontline communities face. During heatwaves, they have limited tree canopy cover or greenspaces. In flood-prone areas, there is little natural stormwater infrastructure like trees and grass to combat flash flooding. These challenges reinforce the need to be intentional and work alongside residents to identify and meet their needs.


What’s your reason for optimism approaching 2024?

Community, family, and collaboration keep me optimistic. The climate change crisis requires that we support one another, and I think we’re recognizing that we’re at a moment in climate action.


LinkedIn: Priscilla De La Cruz


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