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Dr. Denise Fairchild, Sustainable & Community Development Specialist




Dr. Denise Fairchild is the inaugural President and CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), a national non-profit organization with offices and coalitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California and other major urban centers across the United States. Denise received her B.A from Fisk in 1972, a master’s degree in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in urban planning from U.C.L.A. She holds a number of academic distinctions, including serving as a senior fellow at M.I.T., U.C.L.A. and The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship. Her recent publication, Energy Democracy, by Island Press is one of a number of publications dedicated to grassroots perspectives on climate change and climate justice.

She is charged with advancing ECC’s “high road” mission to green our cities, to build resilient local economies and to ensure democratic and inclusive economies in both the process and the outcomes of a new green and healthy economy. Denise works with a predominately women of color leadership team that focuses on building community-led partnerships with labor, environmental and business organizations to increase energy efficiency, clean energy, sustainable foods and clean water with a focus on the needs and opportunities for low-income and communities of color.

Denise’s San Francisco team, led by Avni Jamdar, is creating green and healthy homes and job opportunities for low-income residents and businesses in the Bay Area’s green economy.   ECSF’s RENEW Multi-family Affordable housing program works with local nonprofit housing developers – China CDC, Asian Neighborhood Development, and Mission Housing Development Corporation, among others.  The purpose of these collaborations are to reduce energy and water usage in affordable housing projects by replacing inefficient heating/cooling, water and lighting systems. This reduces tenants’ energy bills, improves the comfort of their housing, and through workforce agreements put job opportunities in the green economy within reach of families and local contractors.

In East Bay and San Francisco, Dr. Fairchild, in partnership with Health Care Without Harm, designed an innovative place-based program called Anchors in Resilient Communities (ARC).  ARC, co-facilitated by EC-Oakland Director Tara Marchant,  leverages the assets and capacities of large, local institutions such as hospitals, universities and local governments to improve community health, local economies and climate resilience of low-income, communities of color.

Dr. Fairchild is nationally recognized and respected for her 40-year successful track record and innovative programs in sustainable and community economic development, domestically and internationally. Her professional work includes six years as director of the Los Angeles Local Initiative Support Corporation, a community development financial intermediary that invests in community-owned affordable housing and inner city development projects.

She also served 15 years as founder and director of a non-profit organization, CDTech, and then founded the Community Planning Department at Los Angeles Trade Technical College that focused on revitalizing inner city communities through education, training and direct action. Dr. Fairchild is a board member of the California Water Solutions Network, the National Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, Climate Resolve, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Council (ACEEE) and the NAACP Environmental/Climate Justice Committee.