PWQA Legislative Days, May 20-22 in Sacramento, California will feature two guest speakers: Andria Ventura, Toxics Program Manager-Clean Water Action (May 21) and Laurel Firestone—State Water Resources Control Board Member (May 22). Someone from NRDC may also join.
Ventura left a corporate career in publishing in 1995 to work for Clean Water Action’s New Jersey chapter. There she served as an organizer working on a wide array of issues, including drinking water, pollution prevention and source water protection. Ventura supplemented this work by serving on her town’s environmental commission. She joined the California Clean Water staff in May 2003, after a two-year hiatus in Hawaii volunteering with the Waikiki Zoo’s elephant program and working at Hawaii’s Oceanic Institute.
Ventura has served on the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water’s Program Advisory Committee and now represents Clean Water Action as a member of Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (the CHANGE coalition), and is a member of the BizNGO Policy Work Group. She staffs her organization’s total maximum daily load (TMDL), drinking water contaminants and chemical policy programs and has been a stakeholder involved with the development of the Green Chemistry program, the state Division of Drinking Water’s Direct Potable Reuse Advisory Group and various county pharmaceutical waste policy initiatives. Ventura has a Bachelor’s Degree in history from University of California, Santa Barbara and did graduate work on immigration history at Utah State University.
Firestone was appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board by Governor Gavin Newsom in February 2019. Prior to joining the Board, Laurel co-founded and co-directed (from 2006-2019) the Community Water Center (CWC), a statewide non-profit environmental justice organization. Based in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast, the CWC helps disadvantaged communities gain access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water and build civic engagement and leadership to achieve the human right to water.
Firestone has received a variety of awards and recognition, including the James Irvine Foundation’s Leadership Award in 2018 and the Gary Bellow Public Service Award by the Harvard Law School in 2013. She also received an Equal Justice Works fellowship to start the Rural Poverty Water Project in the Central Valley in 2004-06 as part of the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment. Firestone served on the Tulare County Water Commission from 2007‐2012 and co‐chaired the Governor’s Drinking Water Stakeholder Group from 2012‐2014. She served on a variety of state policy advisory committees and partnered with universities to develop research and clinical programs to ensure the human right to water. In 2009, Firestone authored the comprehensive Guide to Community Drinking Water Advocacy and has written a variety of articles relating to safe drinking water and the environment. She graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree magna cum laude in environmental studies from Brown University.