William Barber III

| Rural Beacon Initiative

| Founder and CEO

William J. Barber III is an environmental and climate justice scholar and advocate, with nearly a decade of social justice organizing experience and deep academic training in both the science and the law behind environmental and climate issues.

William Barber III serves as the Director of Climate and Environmental Justice at The Climate Reality Project. Barber leads the organization’s work on environmental and climate justice, bringing a background of scholarship and policy advocacy to bear . His background includes a degree in environmental physics from North Carolina Central University and a degree in environmental law and policy from UNC School of Law–both of which he has utilized in driving results-based change for impacted communities over nearly a decade’s long career of social justice organizing focused on environmental and climate justice issues. 

In Barber’s previous roles, he advised the Cooper gubernatorial administration on how to promote equity and justice within North Carolina’s Clean Energy Plan, facilitated campaign efforts to oppose the now defeated Atlantic Coast Pipeline, as well as coordinated participation of the NC Poor People’s Campaign as a filing party of a Title VI Complaint–recently accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency–that calls on a more stringent review of the environmental justice impacts of expanded permitting of biogas facilities in North Carolina. 

William is also founder and CEO of The Rural Beacon Initiative, LLC—a multi-member startup that provides consultation for groups looking to advance equity, climate justice, and environmental justice and serves as the Chief Consultant on Environmental Justice and Equity for the Coalition for Green Capital. Barber’s work on community solutions has been featured in numerous outlets, including NextGen’s 30 under 30 Young Black Changemakers and in Paypal’s Rising Leaders Series.

Additionally, he is currently a fellow for Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement at the Center for Earth Ethics. He has worked with several environmental advocacy groups, including the UNC Law Center for Climate, Energy, Environment, and Economics; Clean Water for North Carolina; and Clean Energy Works.

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