By Ricardo Byrd, Executive Director, National Association of Neighborhoods
As co-chair of the AREVA Community Advisory Council, I see firsthand everyday how committed AREVA is to making sure that diverse communities have a voice in the clean energy conversation. Most of the time, this is done behind the scenes with the public not knowing just how hard AREVA works to do this.
But last week, AREVA had an opportunity to publicly display its commitment to its community partners when it stepped up as a major co-sponsor of “Stateswoman for Justice: From Whence We’ve Come, Where We Are, Where We Must Go From Here,” convened by the Trice Edney Newswire, an African-American news service. Ms. Edney, President of the company, has served on the AREVA Community Advisory Council since its inception and has been a well-respected voice and resource for our group.
Susan Hess, Director of Public Relations and External Communications, gave a presentation on AREVA’s commitment to improving the environment with clean energy from diverse sources, including nuclear energy. Ms. Hess skillfully acknowledged the challenges and opportunities for the nuclear industry’s future that the extraordinary Fukushima incidents are posing. She also addressed AREVA’s commitment to doing more to make its workforce even more diverse. Ms. Hess challenged the audience to prepare our youth with the educational tools to qualify for the good clean energy jobs that are available at AREVA.
As one of the few men in the room, I wondered how this very issue-oriented audience would react to a presentation by an “ambassador” from the nuclear industry. However, Ms. Hess received a sustained round of applause, whose honesty and candor won the women over.
More than 200 women leaders from the business, civil rights, and media communities attended last week’s event, held at the National Press Club. The forum honored dynamic African-American women who have addressed difficult issues with visionary solutions. The event was a lively and informative discussion featuring Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of Bennett College for Women; Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; syndicated columnist Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds; and Melanie Campbell, President of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. Barbara Williams-Skinner, president of the Skinner Leadership Institute, was the moderator.
Last week’s event is a great example of how AREVA’s engagement is making a difference. AREVA’s commitment to working closely with our communities is not always apparent to the general public, but the impact of their work and continued involvement is surely being felt.