The environmental justice advisory group advises the MPCA Commissioner on the implementation of the agency's environmental justice framework, provides feedback on its effectiveness, and offers suggestions for future improvements. This includes:

  • Providing recommendations to the MPCA commissioner on improvements to policies and procedures to ensure integration of environmental justice principles into the MPCA’s work.
  • Collaborating with the MPCA to improve civic engagement with environmental justice communities and acting as liaisons to strengthen communications and relationships between environmental justice communities and the MPCA.
  • Sharing oral history and community experiences so the agency can better understand the communities they serve and inform community-based solutions.

Learn more:


The MPCA Commissioner selects members with input from a selection committee that includes external stakeholders and current EJAG members. The Commissioner will strive to appoint a diverse group of people from various parts of the state, with a variety of backgrounds and skills.

Andrea Gierok

Headshot of Andrea Gierok

Andrea Gierok’s interest and focus on environmental justice is rooted in environmental health, health equity, and food security. Gierok currently serves as the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) coordinator and is active in health equity and healthy food access issues in Winona County. She is also an associate professor of public health at Winona State University.

Rhyan Schicker

Headshot of Rhyan Schicker

Rhyan Schicker is a natural resource specialist who also sits on the board of Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) in southwestern Minnesota. She has worked closely with rural communities to incorporate sustainable farming practices and lessen the impact of conventional agriculture on the environment. Schicker’s work with CURE has focused on environmental justice education as well as shrinking the gap between urban and rural divide.

LaShella Sims

Headshot of La Shella Sims

La Shella Sims is a coal miner's daughter from West Virginia and has lived in North Minneapolis for 57 years. She is a lead organizer with the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing and advises on metro-area projects as a member of the Blue Line Coalition (Blue Line extension light rail transit), the Northside Eco-Harbor Organization (Upper Harbor Terminal project), and the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Sustainable Transportation Advisory Council.

Halston Sleets

Headshot of Halston Sleets

A native of St. Paul and graduate of Tuskegee University, Halston Sleets has served as a contract management specialist for the National Park Service in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. She also served as the senior policy advisor for environmental/social justice and sustainability to former Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. Sleets is currently the diversity and inclusion project manager for the social impact team at Best Buy.

Steve Sternberg

Headshot of Steve Sternberg

Steve Sternberg is an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. His work focuses on environmental engineering issues, including industrial wastewater pre-treatment, landfill design, groundwater contamination modeling, climate change, air pollution, and environmental justice impacts.