Profiles of African Americans at EPA: Carlton Eley
Carlton Eley, Senior Environmental Protection Specialist
Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Where were you born?
Ahoskie, North Carolina.
What brought you to EPA?
I arrived at EPA through the Environmental Internship Program (EIP). EIP was an entry-level, full-time employment and career development program, and it was one of the components of EPA’s Workforce Development Strategy. I was part of the class of 1998.
What type of work do you do at EPA?
I am the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s leading expert on the topic of equitable development. I work in the Office of Environmental Justice. My portfolio focuses on encouraging environmental justice through revitalization strategies, redevelopment efforts, and the community planning process.
I regularly organize educational content for audiences around the country through lectures, workshops, panels, and webinars. Since 2005, I have published multiple articles and blogs about the built environment which focus on: expanding choice and opportunity for all persons; planning for the needs of disadvantaged groups and persons; and altering policies, institutions, and decisions which hinder the needs of underserved populations.
What I like most about my job is focusing on the imperative of being ‘socially responsible’ while making improvements to the built environment. As a sociologist and urban planner, my duty is to remind EPA staff and the public that sensitivities to environmental justice, which start with community involvement and community cleanup, really need to carry through to community recovery and redevelopment.
What is your highest level of education? What was your major?
I have a master of science in urban and regional planning.
What message would you like to send to other Black/African Americans who are considering college or a career in environmental protection?
The environmental field is a large arena. I urge you to take the time to explore domestic and international opportunities and enjoy the search. Also, do not be afraid to make mistakes. Frankly, it’s the only way you’ll learn. Work across sectors and build a strong network with allied professionals. You’ll need it.
Most importantly, realize that your opinions matter. Offer honest critiques. Just because an idea is well-intentioned does not mean it is devoid of flaws. Bear in mind that no one has a monopoly on good ideas. If everyone thinks alike, then someone isn’t thinking.