California Safe Schools Honors Earth Day Champions and Celebrates its 26th Anniversary of Environmental Protection

Published April 19, 2024

News Source: California Safe Schools

CSS continues its work with diverse communities and regulatory agencies that are essential to protecting Earth's life-giving air, soils and water

LOS ANGELES, Calif., April 19, 2024 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — California Safe Schools (CSS) celebrates 7 Earth Day Champions for their extraordinary achievements and mindfulness of future generations. “California Safe Schools proudly honors these individuals whose dedication and resolve make the world a better place and inspire others,” affirms Robina Suwol, Executive Director of California Safe Schools.

Image caption: California Safe Schools.

This Spring also marks the 26th anniversary of CSS spearheading Los Angeles Unified School District’s Integrated Pest Management Policy, the first to embrace the “Precautionary Principle” and “Right to Know” that led to California’s Healthy Schools Act and AB405 (Montanez).

CSS continues its work with diverse communities and regulatory agencies that are essential to protecting Earth’s life-giving air, soils and water.

2024 Earth Day Champions:

Derrick J. Alatorre is Deputy Executive Officer in the Office of Legislative, Public Affairs & Media at the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Derrick keeps open lines of communication with the public, elected officials, the business community, and local residents. His department is responsible for legislation, environmental justice, outreach and education, and small business assistance.

Derrick was formerly a public affairs officer for the California Department of Transportation, conducted public and tribal government outreach on environmental cleanup efforts at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and served as a district field representative to California State Senator Art Torres. Mr. Alatorre is a veteran of the United States Navy.

Andrea Enriquez is 17 and a junior at Huntington Park Institute of Applied Medicine, a Los Angeles Unified School District pilot school on the Linda Esperanza Marquez High School campus. Through Chemistry Club, Andrea took part in the exceptional Toxic Crusaders Program developed by Mui Koltunov, Ph.D., Research Scientist Supervisor II, with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. The intensive six-week course inspires her to inform her peers and community about toxins in consumer products and to make safer choices.

Andrea is President of GirlsBuild Huntington Park with projects focusing on Civic Engagement, Health & Wellness and STEM & Digital Skills. Her career goal is to become a Pediatrician.

Theodore Higgins is Chief Environmental Compliance Inspector in the Industrial Waste Management Division overseeing an inventory of nearly 10,000 food service establishments. He helped create LA Sanitation’s Professional Development and Work Exposure Program, serves as the Chair of the Pretreatment, Pollution Prevention, and Stormwater Committee of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA), is a Sector Champion for the Car Wash Industry to strategize growth and sustainability, and sets goals with the LA Sanitation’s Clean Up Green Up Working Group to ensure the health and well-being of disadvantaged communities.

Theodore has been honored with an Employee Excellence Award and twice-honored by the CWEA as an “Emerging Leader” and “Person of the Year”.

Bruce H. Jennings served for two decades as Senior Advisor to the California Legislature on Environmental Policy, Policy Advisor with the Senate Office of Research and Chief of Staff of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials.

His book, “The War on California: Defeating Oil, Oligarchs and the New Tyranny,” documents invaluable lessons learned from community and public interest advocates pushing back against poorly regulated pesticides and industrial chemicals in food, water, buildings and landscapes. Bruce is now writing about his experiences in Latin America and agroecology opportunities he sees as an alternative to the failing model of industrial agriculture.

Nate Lillge has dedicated his entire life and career to working with children and young adults in various aspects of outdoor education and conservation. Since 2007, he has been the Adventures and Engagement Director for Tuleyome Conservation Organization, leading outings, trails and stewardship programs in the Woodland, California area. Nate also teaches a California Naturalist course for those who want to become more connected to and involved with the natural world.

Lisa Tanaka O’Malley has over 30 years of experience in legislative affairs and government and community relations, Lisa is the Assistant Deputy Executive Officer for Legislative, Public Affairs & Media at South Coast Air Quality Management District.

She has spearheaded initiatives such as the “Clean Communities Plan,” “Why Healthy Air Quality Matters” high school education program, and the Annual Environmental Justice Conference. Lisa also champions community engagement through the “Working with Communities” volunteer program.

Mariano Miguel Torres has been environmentally conscious his entire life. From the age of 7 until today at 17, he has farmed an acre of land, growing organic fruits and vegetables, raising hens for fresh eggs, and donating a bulk of the produce to others in need.

Miguel is a senior and honor student and member of the Medical Careers Pathway Program at Consumnes Oaks High School in the Elk Grove School District in Sacramento. His goal is to become an Otolaryngologist or ENT. Mariano also volunteers at senior living communities and mentors at neighborhood elementary schools.

All the honorees received awards designed by celebrated artist Michael Bruza and commendations from elected officials.

Learn more about California Safe Schools at:


Robina Suwol, Executive Director

California Safe Schools


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