Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.) is dedicated to providing community members with the tools necessary to create sustainable, environmentally healthy communities by educating individuals on health concerns and implications arising from environmental pollution, empowering individuals with an understanding of applicable environmental laws and regulations and promoting their enforcement, and offering community building skills and resources for effective community action and greater public participation.
Our goal is to promote environmental protection through education, policy development, community awareness, and legal action. Our guiding principle is that everyone, regardless of race or income, is entitled to live in a clean environment.
The organization is built on the work of Director, Juan Parras, who has been organizing environmental justice communities since the signing of executive order 12898 in 1994. Juan was an original member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and has served on many other boards such as the Gulf Restoration Network, National Childhood Lead Prevention Program, and the Center for Health and Environmental Justice (CHEJ). He is currently an environmental justice Ambassador for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Juan received the CEC Synergy Award in 2008 and the Sealy Center for Environmental Health & Medicine HERO Award in 2009.
Bryan Parras has also been an instrumental part of the organization bringing new media skills to the organization. Bryan now serves as an Advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund, and sits on the board of the Environmental Support Center. Bryan was recently awarded a Gulf Coast Fellowship and has been working to help organizations use media for education, organizing and advocacy. He co-produces Nuestra Palabra on KPFT, Houston’s local Pacifica affiliate. He is currently acting as a Bridge the Gulf Fellow and helping launch a new interactive website where communities along the Gulf Coast can share their stories through the use of Blogs, Video and Photography. Bryan has been trained by Augusto & Julian Boal as a Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator. He has made presentations at various national Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed (TO) conferences and worked with communities in Buffalo, Chattanooga and Harlingen. Bryan has also contributed to two TO projects involving on-the-job environmental exposures of immigrant workers.
Yudith Nieto was born in Mexico and grew up in the fence-line refining community of Manchester in Houston, TX. Which helped in inspiring Yudith to become involved in the environmental justice movement. Yudith has worked with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and has also been involved in organizing with the Tar Sands Blockade to organize direct actions. Earlier this year she participated in the 2013 4 Directions Intergenerational Youth Exchange. Where she learned how to build an intergenerational movement along with how the Chican@, Mexican American, and Indigenous cultures are intrinsically linked to the struggle of environmental justice. Yudith is now currently working with other youth in Houston to teach people about environmental issues that affect their communities through culture, art, music and poetry. Yudith is dedicated to confronting the petrochemical industries that perpetuate environmental racism and classism in marginalized communities of color.