How One Person Makes A Difference: A Tribute to Donna Lee Andrews and Jane Warner
The passing of Nelson Mandela reminds us of how one person can make a tremendous difference to everyone’s future. This year, CURE lost two wonderful friends, and California lost two extraordinary leaders.
DONNA LEE ANDREWS (1960-2013) was a pioneer in environmental justice, particularly involving equity in transportation
projects. An attorney and community activist, Donna was one of the most politically connected women in Los Angeles. She was president of the Lee Andrews Group, a public relations firm specializing in environmental advocacy and legislative consulting. She was also active in scores of community service and civic endeavors -- among them: former board vice president of the National Association of Women Business Owners; board parliamentarian of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce; a decade as Commissioner for the California High Speed Rail Authority. Donna also served on City of LA's Infrastructure Advisory Committee and the Coalition for Clean Air. As the Los Angeles Wave newspaper commented, Donna was “a wonderful, gracious, genteel, erudite woman… Unlike most of the people in this city with whom we are forced to interface, Donna Lee was the real deal. She was worth your time and attention and was a positive force to be around.”
JANE WARNER (1957- 2013) was the Executive Director of the American Lung Association in California. Jane managed a staff of committed public health advocates and her dedication and hard work elevated ALAC to a new force in California’s – and the nation’s – struggle for clean air. During her four years as ALAC’s vibrant leader, Jane battled Big Tobacco to protect the health of children and families, and worked to halt oil industry efforts to weaken clean air laws. Her ALAC colleagues considered Jane a “true visionary.” ALAC’s tribute to Jane emphasized that she “was forthright and fearless in her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others, and she deeply inspired those she met with her energy, generosity, determination and warmth…The fact that Californians breathe some of the dirtiest air in the country only made Jane work more tirelessly to advocate for cleaner fuel standards and less cars on the road. From kids with asthma to adults coping with emphysema and chronic bronchitis, Jane was on their side, a true advocate and friend….” Other tributes recalled Jane’s passion, compassion, wit, determination, and intellect.
Both Jane and Donna touched my life and the lives of so many people. At a time when I felt it was difficult to expand CURE while running a law department, their support and inspiration fortified my resolve.
Jane and Donna’s untimely deaths have set back the cause of environmental justice, and filling the void they leave will not be easy -- but is critical. These fine women were catalysts for change in the spirit that CURE promotes: they worked hard to increase communications between disparate interests to build a safer and healthier society for everyone. As with Nelson Mandela, we will greatly miss Jane and Donna, but their efforts and legacy will live on and serve as a reminder to all of us to try harder in 2014.
If you would like to volunteer on CURE projects or write a guest blog on an issue of environmental concern, please contact us. Happy Holidays to all and best wishes for a healthy 2014.
-- Malissa McKeith, posted December 17, 2013