Roberta Avila has served as the Executive Director of the Steps Coalition since August 2009, and has worked in the social justice sectors for the past 25 years with a special interest in community organizing and advocacy for underserved populations. Prior to becoming ED of Steps, Roberta served as the ED for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Interfaith Disaster Task Force, spearheading three annual Mental Health Summits and two Katrina Recovery Summits.
Roberta worked intensely on the People Before Ports Campaign that fought the diversion of $600 million in federal recovery funds intended for affordable housing but instead were diverted to the expansion of the state Port of Gulfport. Since the April 2010 BP oil spill disaster, Roberta has advocated for public voice in deciding how the Gulf Coast will be restored.
Roberta serves on the Boards of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, the MS Center for Justice and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.
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Brenna Landis started working at Steps Coalition in April 2016 as a volunteer with the East Biloxi Community Collaborative's "East Biloxi In Motion" campaign to empower the community in East Biloxi to remain knowledgeable about the ongoing construction in East Biloxi and to engage in civic action to speak out on the affects of dust and unpaved roads on the community. Since then, Brenna has been hired as the Program Assistant starting in January 2017. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and English from the University of Southern Mississippi.
During her time at Southern Miss Gulf Park Campus, Brenna reinstated the student sustainability organization, EcoEagles, which helps to promote sustainability on the college campus as well as in the surrounding communities. Through EcoEagles, she created an annual Earth Week surrounding Earth Day which invited local environmental advocates to come and speak to students as well as encourage students to participate in The Nature Conservancy water stewardship initiatives surround Bear Point Bayou on the Long Beach campus.
Brenna has also represented the MS Gulf Coast community in Washington, D.C. while lobbying with Citizens' Climate Lobby, an international nonpartisan nonprofit aimed at combating climate change with a free market carbon fee and dividend legislative proposal. She also attended the Sierra Club and 350.org's Keep It in the Ground march in D.C. where she met with members of Congress in support of the end of offshore drilling and a push away from dirty fossil fuels.
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Jhai Keeton joined the Steps Coalition staff in February 2017.
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Howard Page is a community organizer for the Steps Coalition. He works on the Port Campaign. This campaign works to ensure that the jobs promised by the diversion of funds to the port are created. The campaign addresses many environmental justice issues including wetland fills which cause flooding; air pollution from a large increase in truck and train traffic at the port; and the use of brownfields. The brownfield issues e also works on other environmental justice and economic issues. He is a former state chair of the Mississippi chapter of the Sierra Club, a founding board member of the North Gulfport Community Land Trust and a member of the NAACP. He has also lobbied the legislatures in Washington and Jackson on clean water, clean air and fishing regulations.
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