A Message From Our New Executive Director!

Dear Clean Air Members and Supporters,

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I write to you to introduce myself as the new Executive Director for Clean Air! I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to uphold the legacy of strong and bold leadership by our past Executive Directors Erin and Rebecca. Their work, along with the teams they led, have built so much at this small but mighty home for those fighting for justice. Home is exactly what it feels like to me in my first week on board. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of the staff, directors, and member leaders who have stepped up to not only weather a year of uncertainty and transition, but have driven the organization forward and gained significant wins.

I was born in Niagara Falls, NY and come from a family with strong working class roots. My grandfather was a World War II veteran with a grade school level education and was able to land a job as a welder at what was then Hooker Chemical Company after the war. Through his hard work and the unpaid work of my wonderful grandmother, they were able to put 5 kids through college and move the next generation of my family into the middle class. The resources that benefited my family and many others came at a terrible price to the land and people’s health from the toxic legacy of a fossil fuel based extractive economy. As I grow in my understanding of the issues we face, I have also realized that these opportunities were not available to everyone and the harm from pollution has disproportionately affected the working class and communities of color. Undoing the legacy of pollution and injustice is the core reason I am driven to do this work.

I have spent the last decade of my career at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and the last six years as Director of Community Engagement, where I have worked and crossed paths with many of you. I was lucky to collaborate with lots of amazing people and have left a lasting legacy, having helped build a strong team and robust programing to inspire current and future generations of water protectors. During this time I have gained experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and staff supervision and mentorship. I worked hard to lead Waterkeepers efforts to become a more equitable, just, and diverse organization as I believe the Environmental Movement must include anti-racism if we are to truly achieve our missions.

As many of us in the field have come to grips with, passion for our lands and waters and educating individuals on issues is not enough. We have to continually provide opportunities to work on root causes of inequities in intersectional ways. Embracing this, I have been energized through work with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Buffalo to organize other white people to show up and take action to achieve racial justice. I am very excited to continue this work as it ties closely with our fiscal sponsorship of Black Love Resists in the Rust, which SURJ works in solidarity with. I am also proud to have been a founding Board Member of the Friends of Broderick Park in 2020 with our mission to tell the story of the history of the Underground Railroad in Buffalo to trace this legacy to the present day.

I have gained inspiration from working with fellow members in the past few years on the American Axle, Tonawanda Coke, and Huntley Campaigns through my role at Waterkeeper, and am proud of the work done to unite both organizations to work together more. From this direct work and throughout the interview process, what continually called to me is the power of member led and centered campaigns and the lifting of member voices in organizational decision making. I will passionately uphold this core value as we move forward.

As we are all aware, the past five years have been tumultuous, with our movement seeing tremendous gains in the fight for racial and environmental justice followed by stark reminders of how far we need to go to achieve the world we all know is possible. I am attracted to Clean Air because we have always been an independent voice seeking to work on the root causes of issues. It is essential that we continue to build our grassroots fundraising to do the work our members need to gain justice in their communities. I am diving right into this work with all of you as we launch, Another World Is Possible, our 2021 Appeal tomorrow on Giving Tuesday. We have a big goal of raising $75,000 in grassroots donations by year end but I know we can do it together!

Look for continuing communications in the coming weeks for ways to connect and participate with us, and I look forward to seeing you digitally or safely in person soon!

In Solidarity,


Chris Murawski

Executive Director

Clean Air Coalition of WNY


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