Meleah Houseknecht

I have always focused on engagement of diverse perspectives in environmental policy and planning, so EI was in many ways an obvious fit. I believe that WHO participates in defining a problem and imagining the solutions determines who benefits from the outcomes of that problem-solving process. I think that engaging those impacted by policies and practices is essential to developing systemic solutions that really address underlying causes. I’m kind of a dabbler when it comes to issues and love getting to work across many different fields and industries—for me, HOW we work together really matters. I believe in the transformational magic of true collaboration, and that requires relationships with a lot of trust. I love getting to work on setting the necessary conditions for that kind of transformative collaboration.

I grew up in West Virginia, a place where people live close to the land, have a deep appreciation for it, and also have a complex history when it comes to economic and environmental injustice. I also grew up in really walkable community where I could get to many of my friends’ houses, school, a thriving downtown, the Monongahela River, and quiet trails through the woods—without ever getting in a car. When I started college (over 20 years ago) I started out studying sociology and social movements. When I learned the term “environmental justice” (from Professor Pinar Batur, my undergraduate advisor) I saw that I could combine my commitment to social justice and passion for doing place-based work that recognizes our deep physical and spiritual connection to land and community. I knew right away that that was the thing I should focus on and haven’t looked back since.

Because I work across issues and perspectives, I love that I am always learning about new things and new ways to look at the world. I also get to put my values of justice, connectedness, and intentionality in how we show up for one another into practice pretty much every day.

Thanks to heather c. lou (, I have two adrienne maree brown quotes–accompanied by beautiful watercolor paintings–framed on my desk: “and we know how to connect – and we long for it” and “Less on point. More on purpose.” If you are out there heather, I need one that says, “no one is special, and everyone is needed.” to complete my collection.

Less competition, more interconnection. Also, proper use of commas (because they help us understand each other, and we all want to be understood).

Meleah Houseknecht
Email Meleah
612-334-3388 ext. 8104