Home » Issues » Equitable Development

Equitable Development


Equitable development meets the needs of overburdened communities and individuals through projects, programs, and/or policies that reduce poverty, low wealth, health and other disparities while fostering places that are healthy, vibrant, and diverse.

Strategic Guiding Principles:
1)      Ensure meaningful community participation, leadership, and ownership in community development efforts.

2)      Integrate community development strategies that focus on people with those focused on improving places.

3)      Promote investments in the community that are catalytic, coordinated, and result in a triple bottom line.

4)      Reduce local and regional economic, health, employment, transportation and environmental disparities.


Traditional sprawl patterns driven by governmental and private sector programs and expenditures disinvested many urban, suburban and rural communities resulting in a combined host of disadvantages and disparities for community residents and businesses including:

•  Transit shortages and struggling schools

•  Lack of access to healthy, affordable food

•  Disparate environmental and health impacts

•  Discriminatory lending and insurance practices

•  Brownfields, abandoned and vacant properties

•  Unemployment, under-employment and poverty


Equitable development is a comprehensive process of planning and investments that tackles deeply entrenched community issues of poverty, economic barriers, environmental quality and health. Economic opportunity is a cornerstone of equitable development, particularly within communities facing the additional challenges associated with contaminated, vacant or distressed properties. Where there are opportunities to clean up and sustainably re-use these types of sites, the timing is ripe to integrate and invest in equitable development.

This is a process grounded by community engagement that process involves residents, property owners, workers, local businesses, planners, government officials and developers cooperatively engaging in decisions and investments in order to address past inequities, while simultaneously creating a new vision for a sustainable future. The foundation for creating strong, economically resilient and livable communities is increasingly built upon a spectrum of place-based activities that develop improved community revitalization tools and strategies.


EPA Equitable Development Webinar: Brownfields Renewal and Community Anti-Displacement Models

Tuesday, October 14, 2015, 2:00pm to 3:00pm EDT

The October 14th webinar focuses on two highly successful equitable development models of community ownership and wealth building. This is a hands-on opportunity to learn from local leaders. Gain an insider’s view of these pioneer­ing community building strategies, practical tools and know-how. Participants will learn about Evergreen Worker Cooperatives, flourishing for-profit green businesses, and the ways that the companies are building equity and wealth and retaining financial resources in the community. Participants will also learn about Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s Community Land Trust, Dudley Neighbors Incorporated, and the challenges of creating a thriving urban village with permanent affordable housing, a community greenhouse and farm, and other amenities.

Details can be found here. (PDF)

Register Here

Environmental Justice Pioneer Deeohn Ferris Joins the National Audubon Society As Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

NEW YORK—Today, the National Audubon Society announced the appointment of Deeohn Ferris, J.D., as vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion at the venerable conservation organization. Ferris is a pioneer in the environmental justice field, with extensive experience in law and policy. She has worked on community regeneration with federal agencies, governments, foundations, communities of color, low income, and tribal and indigenous organizations in the United States and countries on five continents.

“My definition of equity is community building and inclusive community engagement in planning, decisions and investments that broaden pathways and access to environmental benefits and opportunities,” said Ferris. “I am thrilled to contribute to the work that Audubon is doing to build a more equitable and inclusive conservation movement and to make strides together to strengthen and build on this progress. Every community is entitled to a healthy environment, to the beneficial effects of birds and nature, and the ability to impact decisions about their lives and places.”

“Equity, diversity and inclusion are core values and strategic imperatives for Audubon, and Deeohn Ferris brings a truly formidable set of skills, accomplishments, and relationships,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold. “What we do is what matters, and Deeohn’s decades of work at the intersection of equality and environmental issues makes her a natural fit to lead Audubon’s efforts. She is a doer with a remarkable track record of success in broadening equity and inclusion.”

Ferris comes to Audubon from her position as president and founder of Sustainable Community Development Group, a not-for-profit national research and public-policy social venture enterprise. She has been a thought leader for equity and inclusion throughout her career, fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders and across interdisciplinary sectors. Ferris began her career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She served as counsel to the American Insurance Association and was the first African-American senior policy office director at the National Wildlife Federation. After that, she launched the Environmental Justice Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Ferris is recognized for her success in building complex coalitions with a wide variety of community, governmental, nonprofit, philanthropic and private sector leaders. She has over 20 years of expertise in groundbreaking environmental advocacy, rooted in her leadership of the landmark national campaign that resulted in the federal Presidential Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898. Ferris capitalized on this momentum by establishing the Washington Office on Environmental Justice representing hundreds of communities and faith leaders in the United Nations, Congress and other legislative bodies.

Ferris will lead equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives across Audubon’s 700-person staff, board of directors, 1.1 million members, 463 local chapters and more than 60 local and regional advisory boards.

Audubon’s statement on equity, diversity, and inclusion reads in part:

“Just as biodiversity strengthens natural systems, the diversity of human experience strengthens our conservation efforts for the benefit of nature and all human beings. Audubon must represent and reflect that human diversity, embracing it in all the communities where we work, in order to achieve our conservation goals. To that end, we are committed to increasing the diversity of our staff, board, volunteers, members and supporters, and to fostering an inclusive network of Audubon centers and chapters in all kinds of communities, from rural to urban.”

Ferris will join Audubon August 1, 2017, and will be based in Washington, D.C., reporting to Chief Network Officer David J. Ringer.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more and how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.


Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez, ngonzalez@audubon.org, 212-979-3068.