SEJournal News: Environmental Justice Writer To Launch Column; New Editors Join

April 19, 2023

SEJournal News: Environmental Justice Writer To Launch Column; New Editors Join

By A. Adam Glenn

Yessenia Funes, a co-founder of The Uproot Project, a network of and for environmental journalists of color, will join the SEJournal this spring to launch a new column on environmental justice.

Yessenia Funes

Funes (pictured right) has covered the justice beat for nearly a decade, writing for publications like Atmos, Vogue, The Guardian, Earther, HuffPost and more. She is based in New York.

The quarterly column, slated to start this summer, is part of the publication’s effort to increase attention to how environmental racism is woven into the fabric of the environment beat. The column will aim to cover a wide range of environmental justice topics and expects to bring in a variety of voices and perspectives.

Funes will also join the Society of Environmental Journalists’ Editorial Advisory Board, which consults with the SEJ publications team to review its workings and to identify important environmental topics worthy of in-depth coverage.

“I'm excited to help my peers better understand their role in covering environmental justice and racism — and in talking about what it means to be a queer Latina on the climate beat,” said Funes. “It's important that we, environmental journalists, bring our full selves to our work."

“We’re elated that Yessenia will be our inaugural environmental justice columnist. This step has been a long time coming,” commented Adam Glenn, SEJ’s editorial director of publications and SEJournal editor.

Glenn added: “While we’ve written about environmental justice topics for years, our coverage has been diffused across our many sections of the SEJournal. This initiative will help bring it into much-needed focus. We couldn’t have found a better person to help us do that than Yessenia.”

“Yessenia’s background and talents make her a perfect match for this position,” said Robert McClure, chair of the advisory board. “Because of her experiences, we are sure to benefit from her perspectives as we approach the crucial issue of environmental justice.”


“Creating a regular space ... for

conversation about the intersection

of justice and the environment

is a significant step forward."

                                                            — Emilia Askari

                                                     former SEJ president


“Creating a regular space in the SEJournal for conversation about the intersection of justice and the environment is a significant step forward for SEJ,” said Emilia Askari, a former SEJ president who has long encouraged greater attention within the organization to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Askari, who also serves as an SEJournal editor and advisory board member, added: “My hope is that Yessenia’s new column will not only help SEJ members report with more depth and sensitivity on environmental justice issues. Beyond reporting tips, I have confidence that Yessenia will help SEJ members understand what it’s like to live and work as a journalist of color covering the environment.”


New volunteer co-editors join team

Chioma Lewis

In addition to Funes, the weekly SEJournal is also expanding the ranks of its volunteer section editors, with four new members of the masthead.

Michigan-based freelance journalist Chioma Lewis (pictured right) will join as co-editor of Inside Story, a monthly column that conducts Q&As with award-winning environmental journalists.

Lewis, a diversity fellow at the 2022 SEJ conference in Houston, received her journalism master's degree from Michigan State University and originally hails from California.

Rocky Kistner

She will work alongside Rocky Kistner (pictured left), an independent journalist based near Washington, D.C., who joined SEJournal as Inside Story co-editor earlier this year.

Kistner, who also serves on the SEJ Board of Directors and numerous committees, has produced environmental stories over the past four decades for The Center for Investigative Reporting, ABC News, PBS Frontline, Marketplace public radio, NRDC’s onEarth and others.

Brandi Addison

Brandi Addison (pictured right) is also joining SEJournal to serve as co-editor of FEJ StoryLog. Addison is the regional agriculture and natural resources reporter for the USA TODAY Network's West Texas region and a journalism instructor at Texas Tech University, where she received her bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in environmental science. She’s currently completing a writing master’s at New York University.

Addison will partner with FEJ StoryLog co-editor Carolyn Whetzel, who launched the column in 2020, to manage its stories on lessons learned by grant winners of the SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism.

SEJournal has also welcomed several new contributing editors to its masthead, most recently John R. Platt, editor of The Revelator and an award-winning environmental journalist focused on the extinction crisis. He plans to help bolster the publication’s features covering endangered species, wildlife and biodiversity.

Melody Kemp and Jennifer Weeks, frequent writers for our monthly BookShelf section, edited by Tom Henry, were added as contributing editors in 2022.

A. Adam Glenn is editorial director of publications for the SEJ. He has been editor of SEJournal since 2012, previously serving as its co-editor and features editor. He has been an SEJ member since 1992. If you’d like to learn about other SEJournal volunteer opportunities, contact Glenn at

* From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. 8, No. 16. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main page. Subscribe to the e-newsletter here. And see past issues of the SEJournal archived here.

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