Catherine Flowers

Director and founder of Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise

Catherine Coleman Flowers is the founder of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise Community Development Corporation (ACRE). ACRE seeks to address the root causes of rural poverty. She also serves as the Rural Development Manager for the Equal Justice Initiative and as Director of Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement for Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Her goal is to expose America to the Third World conditions that exist in southern rural communities which she has characterized as “America’s Dirty Secret.” These conditions have been exacerbated by climate change.

She hopes to shepherd a paradigm shift toward sustainability and resiliency in rural communities as well as the development of climate-friendly onsite wastewater technology using renewable energy. The lack of environmental and climate justice in poor rural communities was noted during her 2011 testimony about the raw sewage problem in Lowndes County, Alabama. It was included in the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation to the United Nations Council on Human Rights. In December of 2015 she represented the Center for Earth Ethics in Paris as an official observer at COP 21, and in 2016 she was chosen to attend the White House Water Summit. Flowers has a Master’s degree in History and is a Practitioner in Residence at Duke University’s Franklin Center for the Humanities. She was recently named to the board of the Climate Reality Project and a member of the 2017 Grist 50 after being nominated by former vice president Al Gore.

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