Deeohn Ferris, JD
Ex-Officio, ISC President
Deeohn is an environmental lawyer, racial and social justice practitioner, and systems change thought leader. Her career is rooted in the tenets of racial, economic and environmental justice. She is a trailblazer, from her first legal job at US EPA progressing from legislative counsel to tenure as the first Director of Special Litigation in the enforcement office. Next, she was environmental counsel at the American Insurance Association, the industry’s biggest trade group. Afterwards, she joined the National Wildlife Federation where, while serving as the Environmental Quality Director, she was honored with the Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award.
She has extraordinary experience working with marginalized communities, Tribal, indigenous and faith based organizations, civil society and governments on 5 continents. During the emergence of the international environmental justice movement, Deeohn joined the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and instituted the nation’s first legal project dedicated to addressing disproportionate pollution impacts, and the interrelationship of economic, social and health disparities. She established the national Washington Office on Environmental Justice, where she led racial equity and inclusion strategies that prioritized people of color and engaged other under-represented and under-served population groups.
One of the early thought leaders, Deeohn’s environmental and legal knowledge and policy expertise were instrumental in raising the profile of environmental justice. She facilitated the national campaign that resulted in President Clinton’s Executive Order 12898, worked with Congress to convene the first-ever House and Senate hearings, and represented communities in governmental relations, in Congress, the media, and the United Nations.
She was the longstanding CEO of the Sustainable Community Development Group, a social venture enterprise focused on equity, health, land use, and community resiliency best practices. Before assuming the Presidency at ISC, Deeohn was Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the National Audubon Society, where she grappled with the environmental and conservation sector’s diversity challenges. While there, she prompted organizational shifts and strategies that broaden opportunities for people of color, women, young people, people with different abilities and of different cultures.
Deeohn is the recipient of many achievement awards, and her public service includes numerous federal committees and boards. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center.