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Aaron Voit

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Aaron Voit

Aaron Voit

Name of Host Organization: California Rural Legal Assistance
City, State: Oakland, California
Issue area: Environmental Justice
Sponsors: Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

The Project

Create a medical-legal partnership and advocacy initiative to improve health and remediate disproportionate exposure to agricultural pollution in farmworker communities in California’s Salinas Valley.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
In most of the country, families can drink tap water, children can play outside, and workers are able to earn a living without worrying that those activities may kill them. In the Salinas Valley, residents cannot participate in these everyday activities without jeopardizing their health. Agricultural pollution stemming from the use of pesticides and fertilizers exposes entire communities to toxins capable of causing cancer, infertility and birth defects, and brain damage in children.
The Right Person For This Project
Aaron is the right person for the project because:
• Before law school, he worked to improve environmental health in El Salvador where he witnessed firsthand how agricultural pollution devastated farmworkers and families in rural, underserved communities
• During law school, he represented undocumented immigrants at the East Bay Community Law Center and served the Karuk Tribe supporting community-driven solutions to environmental justice challenges
Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Aaron will:
• Conduct needs assessment, compile data and community narratives
• Execute MOUs to form medical-legal partnerships with clinics in Salinas and Watsonville
• Design medical-legal framework with clinic partners, including developing screening protocols, trainings for healthcare providers to better recognize health-harming legal needs, and on-site legal service infrastructure