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Living Oscar Romero's Spirit in Today's Climate

The 2021 Romero Award ceremony and symposium will consist of a series of online events celebrating the perseverance and achievements of environmental and climate justice advocates culminating in the honoring of the award to an inspiring, indigenous, and feminist grassroots leader. This year's symposium will include global, national and local perspectives on environmental and climate justice issues and challenges in the context of Saint Oscar Romero's legacy. It will also launch the new and forthcoming work by our Moral Courage Project, Poison and Power: The Fight for Water.

Romero Series

March 24, 1980

Anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, a martyr for the faith.

Climate & Environmental Justice

Combating climate change and ensuring a healthy environment for all, regardless of race, wealth, or national origin.

Schedule of Events

Anniversary of the assassination of Saint Oscar Romero

March 24th, 3:30-5:00 pm

In this session, international, national and local experts and practitioners join UD students to share experiences working with communities to co-create transformative solutions at the interface of human rights, public health, environmental degradation and climate justice.

Romero's Legacy: Vince Miller, Professor; Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture, University of Dayton

Keynote Speaker: Adrienne Hollis, Senior Climate Justice and Health Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists

Student Experiences: Leslie King, Director, of Leadership Formation and Rivers Institute, Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, introduces UD students from ETHOS, Hanley Sustainability Institue, Human Rights Center, and River Stewards: Claire Sullivan (Moderator), Shannon Stanforth, Ancy Johnson, Ashley Kush, Grace Jackson and Victoria Jacobs.

Dayton Perspective: Matt Currie, Managing Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

Moderator: Sr. Leanne Jablonski FMI, Scholar for Faith and the Environment, Hanley Sustainability Institute; Director, Marianist Environmental Education Center


April 7th, 3:30-4:45 pm

Thirty years ago, community leaders from all walks of life gathered in Washington, DC for a landmark environmental summit. Delegates asserted the environmental movement needed to pivot and combat environmental racism. They introduced principles that expanded the customary boundaries of environmental protection. This panel features ‘environmental justice trailblazers’ who attended the Summit. The discussants will reflect on the historic milestone and the trajectory of the environmental justice movement.

Romero's Legacy: Kelly Johnson, Associate Professor; Fr. Feree Chair of Social Justice, University of Dayton

Moderator: Carlton Eley, Regional Equity Initiative Manager, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission

Featured Panel: 

Charles Lee, Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Richard Moore, Program Director, Los Jardines Institute 

Donele Wilkins, President/CEO, The Green Door Initiative 


April 14th, 3:30-5:00 pm

This session features a roundtable of regional experts to explore how human rights law can promote environmental protection for local communities across the Western Hemisphere. 

Romero's Legacy: Rob Bodrick, Senior Project Manager, The Partnership Center, Ltd.

Poem: Kwyn Townsend Riley, Poet; Graduate Assistant, Western Illinois University

Roundtable: Soledad Garcia Muñoz, Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 


April 20th, 3:30-5:00 pm

The Romero Human Rights Award Ceremony will commemorate an inspiring, indigenous, and feminist grassroots leader for her advocacy for environmental justice in Guatemala. 

Welcoming Remarks: Shelley Inglis, Executive Director, Human Rights Center

Song: Scott Paeplow, Campus Minister for Liturgical Music, Campus Ministry

Romero's Legacy: Mauricio López Oropeza, Red Eclesial Pan-Amazónica

Award Presentation: Eric Spina, President, University of Dayton

Acceptance Speech: Aura Lolita Chavez Ixaquic, Activist, Council of the Ki'che Populations

Poem: Sierra Leone, Poet, Holistic Urban Creative Arts & Theatre


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About the Awardee

The 2021 recipient of the Romero Human Rights Award is a feminist indigenous leader from Guatemala. She is being honored for her front-line advocacy to preserve natural resources and indigenous land from corporate and government exploitation, and defense of women's and indigenous rights. Due to her activism, she has been subject to assassination attempts and has lived in exile since 2017. Her story brings awareness to the role of indigenous people in the fight for environmental justice and the continued violence against human rights defenders.

Moral Courage Project
The Romero Human Rights Award Series will include the launch of the Moral Courage Project's new season: Poison and Power: The Fight for Water. This virtual multi-media exhibit explores the access to clean water in multiple U.S. locations, including Flint and Detroit, Michigan, and Appalachia.
Listen to trailer
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