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Q&A: Meet Public Citizen’s New Organizer in Houston

Maxine Gomez is a Houston-based community organizer for the Texas office of Public Citizen. Maxine is the most recent addition to the Texas team and looks forward to making a positive impact on the surrounding Houston community.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Maxine. I am a recent graduate from Stanford University with a B.A. in Political Science. As a proud Houston native, I am happy to be able to return to my hometown and experience all of the things I’ve missed about Houston. Some of my favorite things about Houston are the people, its rich food culture, and the Rodeo season.

How did growing up in Houston influence your decision to become an organizer in your home city?

Growing up in Houston, I know many people whose health has suffered due to them living near or working in the refineries and the Port of Houston. It wasn’t until I was older that it became increasingly clear to me the connection between surrounding environmental factors and community health. I was especially drawn to community organizing as I know it’s an effective tool in getting impacted communities involved and aware of a particular issue.

What do you hope to accomplish as an organizer in your community?

I hope to continue the work already being done across the Houston area. There has been a lot of progress achieved by local activists and organizations regarding bringing awareness to the harm caused by the fossil fuel industry and working to hold officials accountable for the lack of regulations. I hope to join this movement and contribute to a more just and equitable future for all Houstonians.

What do you think are some of the most urgent environmental issues communities in Houston and Harris County are facing?

That’s an interesting question. With the effects of climate change being increasingly felt all over the country, Houston is especially vulnerable to its effects due to its location near the Gulf and unique infrastructure. Through extreme weather events like Hurrican Harvey and Storm Uri, we have already seen how a lack of preparedness can unjustly impact marginalized communities across the Houston area. It’s important that more attention and resources are used toward combatting the effects of climate change in Houston and creating a more efficient and equitable disaster relief and prevention program.

What is one thing you want to tell everyone reading this about the work you will be doing?

From rising energy costs to the economic damage brought on by extreme weather events, the effects of climate change and unjust environmental actions will be felt all across the Houston area. It is important that as we move forward, everyone’s voice is accounted for in this fight for a sustainable future and that no voice is left out.