Chimere Lesane-Matthews, AICP, has been with Straughan for nearly 20 years, starting as an intern and now as the Deputy Director of Environmental Planning. She has served as the Contract Manager, Program Manager, Project Manager and/or Technical Reviewer for multidisciplinary environmental services including Natural Environmental Policy Act compliance; stakeholder and public outreach and involvement; environmental impacts assessments; environmental inventories and feasibility studies; environmental justice analysis; cultural resources assessments; transportation noise studies and mitigation; environmental permitting; environmental compliance; and geographic information system analysis and management.
She is proficient at implementing, executing, and documenting the NEPA process, navigating the environmental permitting processes, and leading stakeholder outreach and involvement initiatives. She has managed, reviewed, and prepared all levels of NEPA documentation and supplementary technical studies and documentation including socioeconomic and environmental justice assessments; Section 4(f) processes for the protections of public parks, wildlife refuges, cultural resources, and other protected public lands; and stakeholder and public outreach planning. She is adept at tailoring coordination and outreach initiatives to specific projects stakeholders including local and federal government agencies, public interest groups, elected officials, and disadvantaged populations.
“As a NEPA professional, I am passionate about the necessity to consider the full range of environmental consequences of proposed actions on the socioeconomic environment. There are disproportionate environmental impacts on people of color as a result of institutional neglect, outdated policies, and lack of power among communities, resulting in disadvantaged communities being overexposed to environmental hazards. Environmental Justice is a movement that recognizes the link between community, economic, environmental, and health issues. It promotes sustainability, making sure that communities and their natural environments are without the presence of environmental inequities.
During my 20-year career at Straughan, I am most proud when conducting Environmental Justice analyses and working with agencies to implement the NEPA process in a way that balances development, progress, and the natural, cultural, and socioeconomic environment that results in tangible outcomes that are fair and equitable.”
Tell us about your most exciting or rewarding project at Straughan.
I was grateful to be able to work on the Center for Parks & People campus within Druid Hill Park in Baltimore City. Our efforts during the planning phase led to the renovation of the Historic Stone House, which includes a family library and ecology center on a 9-acre campus with mature trees located in West Baltimore City, which is an area that historically has had limited access to hands on environmental resources and education. I grew up in West Baltimore City, and witnessed this area and these buildings be in various stages of disrepair and/or abandonment. This rehabilitation makes me feel hopeful.
What’s something about you that not many people know?
I love math, and I am passionate about advancing minority participation in the STEM industries. I was a collegiate mathematics professor for nearly 10 years, and now I spend countless hours providing free tutoring to high school and college students.
Favorite outdoor activity?
Exploring new areas and outdoor festivals.