Community Engagement Core

CEED Community Engagement Core (CEC)

The overarching goal of the CEED Community Engagement Core (CEC) is to support the strategic vision of CEED to address the environmental health concerns of all NJ residents by centering our efforts on its most affected populations. CEC works with communities and CEED researchers to characterize the health risks that people face in their daily lives, translate existing research evidence to action to reduce exposure and risks, and identify new research directions that are aligned with community environmental health needs.

CEC collaborates with community-based and statewide environmental, health and public policy organizations to address multiple environmental stressors in highly-impacted areas such as port-adjacent communities. CEC is an active partner in the Coalition for Healthy Ports, a national group addressing the impact of shipping and trucking activities on communities near ports.  The Newark/ Elizabeth Port contributes significant pollutants to the air and water of nearby communities including Newark’s Ironbound.  We work locally with partners Ironbound Community Corporation, Clean Water Action, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, and GreenFaith, and nationally with the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, which unites over 150 organizations including our sister NIEHS Center at the University of Southern California.

CEC Leadership

Photo of Robert Laumbach MD, MPH
Robert Laumbach, MD, MPH
Director Rutgers-SPHEnvironmental and Occupational Health
Photo of Alison Bernstein PhD
Alison Bernstein, PhD
Associate Director
Photo of Kerry Butch
Kerry Butch
Community Engagement Coordinator

Core Mission

Countdown to Cleaner Air

The CEC supported Groundwork Elizabeth and the Housing Authority of Elizabeth in their successful application for an EPA Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring for Communities grant ($500,000 over 3 years), building on truck counts and air monitoring data that led to a heavy-duty truck ban on local residential streets in NJ. In Newark’s South Ward. The CEC is providing technical assistance, education, and training on PM2.5 monitoring in partnership with South Ward Environmental Alliance, Friends of the Earth, NJDEP, and the University of Maryland.

Community Partners

We continue to strengthen and expand our engagement in environmental health issues in NJ’s Environmental Justice (EJ) communities, with a focus on the heavily populated  “Transportation/ Industrial Corridor”. This region extends along the NJ Turnpike/US95 route between the metropolitan New York and Philadelphia areas, and includes the port communities of Jersey City, Elizabeth, and Newark; Trenton, the State Capitol; and Paulsboro and Camden, NJ. Transportation impacts and legacy environmental contamination from New Jersey’s chemical industry and Superfund Sites are concentrated along this Corridor, most often in low-income, overburdened, communities of color. CEED has developed key community partnerships and facilitated CEnR in these communities. 

CEED has engaged with communities along the Corridor who are concerned about the environmental health impacts of expanding warehouses and distribution centers in their communities, the latest consequence of the major goods movement industry in this area. The Community Advisory Board (CAB) developed by the CEC draws upon individuals that represent these disproportionately impacted communities.

Community Advisory Board (CAB)

A joint subcommittee of the CAB and CEC Working Group meets regularly to plan the annual NJ Environmental Health Summit meetings. Members of the subcommittee meet with the full CAB in April to decide on the topic of the annual CEED NJ Environmental Health Summit. The goals and scope of the conference are then discussed to ensure that community concerns are addressed, and perspectives included in planning.

Each Summit spotlights panels of community members, community organizations, scientists, regulators, and other decision-makers, providing diverse perspectives to define problems and seek solutions. All CAB members have participated in the Environmental Health Summits by sitting on a panel or designing the conference.


Administrator: Kerry Butch


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