Downwinders at Risk has been the leading advocate of clean air in North Texas since 1994. Founded to defeat the burning of hazardous waste in the Midlothian cement plants, we won that fight and grew to become a regional force.
Since 2017, we’ve also been committed to an Environmental Justice agenda that seeks to reduce Particulate Matter pollution in DFW as much as possible.
Over the last three decades, Downwinders been responsible for eliminating thousands of tons of air pollution from local cement plants, shuttering an illegal lead smelter in Frisco, passing Dallas’ model gas drilling ordinance, and reducing regional smog.
Unaffiliated with any state or national organization, all of our board members are from North Texas. Most are People of Color. Many are veterans of their own grassroots struggles. Since our work is focused exclusively on the DFW metropolitan area we’re almost entirely dependent on local support.
We field the only full-time staff in DFW devoted to both cleaner air and grassroots community organizing. We provide training and expertise to citizens who want to win their clean air battles.
Our board meets once a month. Our PM Education and Training Committee hosts free training on our fleet of portable air monitors. Every spring we sponsor a semester-long community organizing class that teaches participants to “think like an organizer.”
Allen is the founder of the McCarty & Maathai Community Garden. In 2014 she started Sankofa Science, which provides youth African centered curriculum and lab instruction. For 2 years, Cresanda has served as a board member and Particulate Matter Committee member for Downwinders at Risk.
Cresanda has published Soil Benders: An African-centered Agricultural Lab & Activity Book. She continues to write to further develop her curriculum and enrichment programs. Allen is currently pursuing her Masters in Agricultural Science. Cresanda is a 2018 graduate of Downwinders’ College of Constructive Hell-Raising.
Soraya is the 501 c4 Director for Planned Parenthood of North Texas. She’s a mother, well- known Dallas civil rights and immigration activist as well as an administrator for the popular Reform Dallas Facebook site.
Tatiana graduated with a degree in Multinational Operations and International Finance from Georgia State, as well as a Masters in Accounting and Finance from Liverpool University. She’s active in the WestDallas1 neighborhood alliance and is the Treasurer-in-Training for Downwinders. She’s a 2020 graduate of our College of Constructive Hell-Raising.
Shannon is an original member of our Particulate Matter Education and Training Committee and portable air monitor Trainer. She works at Verizon as a GIS specialist. Shannon is a 2018 graduate of our College of Constructive Hell-Raising.
Cindy is an SMU graduate student in Sustainability Design with a BA in Biology. As a STEAM educator, Cindy is committed to environmental justice and is Chair of Downwinders’ PM Education and Training Committee.
Marsha is a mother, and grandmother who lives underneath the notorious Shingle Mountain illegal waste dump. She’s a Red Cross volunteer, Trail Club member and ATT employee. She founded the group Southern Sector Rising in 2019 to advocate for the clean-up of Shingle Mountain and a Dallas Environmental Justice agenda.
Evelyn Mayo is a community educator and organizer on environmental justice and neighborhood equity issues. Her day job is with Disability Rights Texas, as an advocate for people with disabilities dealing with housing, transportation and disaster issues. At night, she is studying City and Regional Planning at UTA and acting as Chair of the Board for Downwinders at Risk. Sometimes she can be found teaching about organizing and public health at Paul Quinn College. She is a loyal sister, avid painter and neighborhood gardener. Evelyn is a 2018 graduate of our College of Constructive Hell-Raising.
Michelle is a Dallas native who’s an Economic Empowerment Specialist at New Friends New Life, where she helps empower formerly trafficked girls and women. She’s SMU graduate who also worked at the International Rescue Committee and Human Rights Watch. She’s an alumni of our very first College of Constructive Hell-Raising class in 2017.
Misti is a Dallas native, mother, and the North Texas Sierra club/Beyond Coal organizer. She’s Community Liaison for our Joppa Environmental Health Project and SharedAirDFW Network if volunteer monitor hosts. Misti is a 2018 graduate of our College of Constructive Hell-Raising.
Amanda is an original PM Eduction and Training Committee Member and portable air monitor trainer.
She’s a science teacher at West Plano High School, a marathoner, open water swimmer (she’s actually tried to swim the English Channel) and avid pet lover. Amanda was also another member of our very first College of Constructive Hell-Raising class in 2017.
Amber is Technology Manager at Dallas-based Reebees, who’s based in the company’s Victory Park co-working space, Hatchways. She has a BA in Mechanical Engineering from Rice and is an alumni of Design for America an is a 2019 graduate of Downwinders’ College of Constructive Hell-Raising.
Jim Schermbeck. Born and raised in Fort Worth, Jim obtained his undergraduate degree from Austin College and did post-graduate work at the University of North Texas and University of Texas at Arlington. From 1977 to 1988 he worked to stop the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant as a volunteer and professional organizer. He was Program Director of the Dallas office of the National Toxics Campaign from 1989 to 1994, where he assisted DFW residents in identifying two Superfund Sites, including the former RSR lead smelter in West Dallas. He’s been with Downwinders at Risk since 1994. He’s held the title of Director of Downwinders at Risk since 2007.
Midlothian cement plants (1994-2010)
At one time the TXI-Martin-Marietta cement plant in Midlothian held the largest hazardous waste incineration permit in America. Downwinders at Risk waged a successful 13-year battle to stop the burning of toxic waste at TXI and pass new regulations that make it harder to burn toxic waste in any US cement plant. We accelerated the modernization of all three Midlothian cement plants, including the installation of new pollution controls that have dramatically decreased air pollution from these large sources. We successfully petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bring Ellis County into the DFW “non-attainment area” for ozone pollution so the cement plants will have to continue to reduce their emissions as part of the larger effort to reduce smog.
Frisco’s Exide Lead Smelter (2010-2012)
At the request of local residents, we organized Frisco Unleaded, a group dedicated to closing the obsolete Exide lead smelter still operating in the middle of central Frisco. Despite City Hall support for its continued operation, we won closure of the smelter within nine months of beginning our campaign, eliminating DFW’s only federal “non-attainment area” for lead pollution.
Dallas Gas Drilling (2011-2013)
Downwinders led the fight to beat back illegal gas drilling permits in Dallas that were called ” a done deal” by the Mayor. We helped expose the corruption underlying the agreements, and educate policymakers on the environmental health consequences of gas drilling. Not only were the “done deal” permits denied, but Dallas passed the state’s strictest gas drilling ordinance that Downwinders helped write.
Southern Dallas Batch Plants (2017-2018)
In 2017 and 2018 four batch plants attempted to move into Southern Dallas neighborhoods already overburdened with polluters. We worked with local neighborhood groups to defeat all four permits by deploying our portable PM monitors to confirm already high air pollution levels and organizing resistance on the ground. These fights directly inspired our current “Neighborhood Self-Defense Project” that seeks to roll-back racist zoning that allows Southern Dallas to be a dumping ground for polluters.
Shingle Mountain Illegal Dump (2018 – )
Alerted by residents who live underneath it, Downwinders first alerted the media and public to the Shingle Mountain illegal dump in December of 2018. Approximately 100,000 tons of hazardous asphalt shingles have been accumulated and then abandoned by unscrupulous operators who wanted to make a quick buck in Southern Dallas. Dallas City Hall and State regulators were unaware of the situation until we sounded the alarm, but defended the dump as legal. Downwinders sponsored the creation of the Southern Sector Rising alliance to advocate for closing and a full clean-up of Shingle Mountain as well as a broader EJ agenda to prevent future Shingle Mountains. On March 20th, 2019 with Southern Sector Rising leaders threatening civil disobedience to shut the dump down, Dallas City Hall reversed course and sued to shut the dump down. Although the site is closed now, it’s 100,000 tons of waste still sits there posing a daily public health threat to residents who live in its shadow.