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Committee Mission

To bring to light the racial inequity that influences environmental policy decisions that cause long term harm to Black and Brown communities and reimagine solutions to dismantle systemic environmental racism.

Committee Leadership

Jim Beard, Co-Chair


Jim Beard was born in Pennsylvania and reared in Indiana.  He was trained as a chemist with a BA in chemistry at Manchester College (now Manchester University) and a PhD in organic chemistry at Stanford University.  After two years of teaching at Manchester College, he pursued a career as a clinical chemist.  During the next twelve years, he worked as a product developer, quality control consultant, and administrator in both hospital and industrial settings.  For twenty-five years he was a member of the faculty at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina as Professor of Chemistry.  Following retirement from teaching, he took course work at Dubuque Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.  He was commissioned as a Lay Pastor in the Salem Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  He is currently serving as pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in China Grove, North Carolina.  He also serves as Co-Moderator of the Commissioned Ruling Elder Training and Oversight Task Force of Salem Presbytery.

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Cheryl Spainhour, Co-Chair


Cheryl Spainhour joined RAP in the summer of 2022, and she is co-chair of RAP’s Environmental Justice subcommittee. She teaches journalism for the Department of Communication Studies at UNC Charlotte, where she has led several international media courses and developed multimedia courses. She collaborated with students on an award-winning multimedia website, “Covering Poverty in America”.  She earned degrees from Wake Forest University, the University of Georgia, and Montreat-Anderson College. She has continued her education, studying with exemplary journalists, most recently completing Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas courses in climate/environmental journalism and digital/multimedia journalism. She has previously worked as a newspaper and radio journalist and she has also freelanced for various publications. She enjoys volunteering with programs that serve people who are experiencing homelessness and other challenging circumstances. Cheryl and her family moved to the Charlotte in 1995 and live happily in the country with too many pets.

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