Annual Report 2016

Making Air Visible

From the Executive Director

Dear Clean Air Carolina Supporters,

One of our biggest challenges as an air advocacy group over the years has been to convince the public and policy makers that air pollution is real—it exists in our cities, our small towns and in our rural areas even if we can’t see it.
Although the sky may be a bright shade of Carolina blue, the real air quality story is told at street level where we take our daily run, ride our bike, push our toddler in her stroller and take the dog for a walk. The air we breathe near ground level is often polluted with emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles. Sometimes we can see tailpipe pollution, but in North Carolina most air pollution is invisible. And out of sight, means out of mind.

Early in the year we brought the dramatic public art and science installation, Particle Falls, to Charlotte as part of UNC Charlotte’s Keeping Watch on Air initiative. For seven weeks, a purple waterfall of light was projected onto UNC Charlotte’s Center City building. Every now and then the waterfall would be colored with specks of yellow and orange—evidence that invisible particle pollution was in the air near the building. Sometimes the waterfall burst into a fireball indicating high levels of particle pollution, which are unsafe at any level. Particle Falls was successful in making people aware of invisible air pollution they are exposed to on a daily basis from vehicles and gave members of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air an opportunity to talk about the health impacts of particle pollution.

Thanks to a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Clean Air Carolina launched a citizen science program called AirKeepers to continue our efforts to make the invisible visible. The focus of this two year grant is a partnership with neighborhood organizations and schools in Charlotte’s Northwest Corridor to measure levels of fine particle pollution in real-time using portable air sensors. AirKeepers are individuals, schools, and other organizations who engage as volunteer scientists to measure air pollution.

The Northwest Corridor is surrounded by two interstates and a freeway causing residents to be exposed to major sources of air pollution on a regular basis. After collecting data with air sensors over a period of time and raising awareness about local sources, residents will be in a better position to advocate for local policy changes to protect their health.

Take a look at some of the other ways Clean Air Carolina made the invisible visible through programming and advocacy in our latest annual report. Thanks to your support, we continue to lead the way to ensure cleaner air quality for all North Carolinians.

June Blotnick

Executive Director

In 2016 we made it our goal to make the invisible visible.

In the News

Clean Air Carolina and Medical Advocates for Healthy Air made the news over 35 times in 2016 speaking out for clean air.

Clean Air Victories

We make it a priority to make every breath count - whether we're rallying for clean air policies in Raleigh or creating art out of thin air, we use every resource available to give our breath a voice.

Defeating the Garden Parkway in Gaston County

Clean Air Carolina and the Catawba Riverkeeper, in partnership with Southern Environmental Law Center, successfully defeated the proposed Garden Parkway, a 22-mile, $990 million project in Gaston County. This was accomplished four years after the case was filed in response to improper environmental impact statements that had been prepared in order to advance the toll highway project near Charlotte. A federal appeals court concluded the project scored so poorly under North Carolina’s data-driven Strategic Transportation Investments law that the project was no longer viable.

Expanding Transit in Wake County

Spending significant amounts of time sitting in traffic on a daily commute causes stress, and exposes drivers as well as people who live near congested roadways to toxic emissions. In a region that’s growing by 64 people a day, increasingly congested roadways are also not good for the economy.

Clean Air Carolina and Medical Advocates for Healthy Air joined Wake County leaders in favor of expanding public transit in the area. The health co-benefits of transit reach beyond emissions exposure. Daily walks to transit stops ward off obesity and depression. Reducing congestion also reduces greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. In November, a public transit referendum passed with 53% of votes in favor of improving and increasing bus service, implementing bus rapid transit (BRT), and implementing a commuter rail system.

Creative Loafing Award

The Andrea Polli installation, Particle Falls, which was on view in Uptown Charlotte for seven weeks, resulted from a partnership between Clean Air Carolina and the UNC Charlotte College of Arts + Architecture. The project was awarded Creative Loafing’s “Best Art/Community/Environment Partnership” award. Showcased on the side of UNC Charlotte’s Center City campus, it continuously displayed colorful readings of Charlotte air quality, putting the importance of pollution and clean air into abstract visuals.

The majority of visitors and viewers got the message that pollution exists, but never knew just how much, because they could not see, smell, touch or otherwise detect it. Many others simply admired the beauty from afar, completely unaware of its message until curiosity drove them to find out.


Elevating the medical voiceMedical Advocates for Healthy Air launched a CME/CEU accredited webinar to educate medical and public health professionals on how to communicate the effects of air pollution to patientsfor cleaner air and healthier lives, raising awareness on air as an invisible health threat.

In 2016, Clean Air Carolina’s Medical Advocates for Healthy Air worked closely with medical professionals and community groups around the state to increase environmental health education.

Our partnership with Charlotte AHEC (Area Health Education Center) allowed for CME/CEU-accrediation of our webinar, Clearing the Air: How Air Pollution Affects Your Patients, and What You Can Do About It, that educates medical and public health professionals on communicating the health effects of air pollution to patients.

Clean Air Carolina’s summer interns engaged with the NC Pediatric Society on their trip to the NC General Assembly during a White Coat Wednesday advocacy program event. There, they showcased the latest air quality monitoring technology to pediatricians that work with the most vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution.

Our Medical Advocates for Healthy Air participated in the 37th Annual Minority Health Conference, presented by the UNC Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health Minority Student Caucus. Discussions involved the role of public health in social justice and the implications of environmental factors such as air quality. MAHA members educated attendees on environmental justice issues around North Carolina.

We also contributed to the launch of a collaborative effort, Healthy Air Alliance of North Carolina (HAANC), with other health groups to provide North Carolina’s citizens, media, medical professionals and policy makers with access to the latest research and analysis on how proposed public policies could impact public health. HAANC’s goal is to build a statewide network to elevate the voices of families dealing with the daily health impacts of air pollution and the public health professionals who work with them, in order to advocate for better air quality and healthier communities.

Impacts of Air Pollution on Public Health

Healthy Air Alliance of North Carolina

37th Annual Minority Health Conference

In the community

We know that the long hours spent working, and engaging with communities across the state translates into clean air awareness.

Click on the pins below to see how we engaged with communities around the state!


Presented Airkeeper Awards to organizations and individuals, former Attorney General Roy Cooper • Hosted second NC BREATHE conference • Particle Falls • Hosted a regional MAHA meeting • Presented at CISA Conference • Clean Air Clean Water Film Festival • Launched Citizen Science AirKeepers program • Provided monthly pediatric residency training at Levine Children’s Hospital

Triangle Area

Hosted regional MAHA meeting • Presented Air Quality & Health program at Wake Health • Supported public transportation at WakeUp Wake County event • UNC Minority Health Conference • Provided monthly pediatric residency training at Duke University Medical Center


Provided pediatric Grand Rounds at Mission Hospital • Sponsored NC Bike Summit


Expanded mobile air monitoring to the coastal region.


Partnered with individuals, universities, and businesses to protect our environment.

Making Citizen Scientists

With increased public interest in monitoring local air quality, Clean Air Carolina launched the AirKeepers Citizen Science program in the summer of 2016. The AirKeepers Program provides air quality education to students, teachers, and the general public through the use of science and technology. Clean Air Carolina trained AirKeepers to collect data on fine particle pollution (PM 2.5) in real-time. The data collected during various times of day and at various sites provided a basis for further understanding of pollutants and air patterns.

We expanded our outreach to UNC Charlotte’s Women in STEM freshman seminar. This partnership enabled us to launch our new citizen science curriculum at the collegiate level. Over a period of three weeks, students learned about air pollution and how to use portable air sensors to measure particle pollution on campus. The success of this tangible science research project engaged students as citizen scientists, collecting data for professional scientists to analyze.

Building Partnerships

In 2016, we engaged organizations such as Novant Health to adopt clean construction practices. A commitment to health influenced building projects, reducing pollution at Novant Health’s new Women’s Center in Matthews and Mint Hill hospitals. Because of our efforts, Novant Health urged contracted construction companies to track their diesel-powered equipment to meet the strictest EPA diesel emission controls. Novant Health’s pioneering efforts lead them to be named as one of our 2016 Airkeeper Award recipients.


Urged local governments to embrace a common vision – to make us less car-dependent and provide a full range of mobility options, including bike lanes, city-wide greenways, light rail, and low-emission buses.

U.S. Congressman David Price of North Carolina speaks at the WakeUp Wake County community event in support of public transportation

Growth in a sustainable direction fueled our advocacy efforts in 2016. From state legislation supporting the Clean Power Plan to taking action for public transportation to reduce air pollution from traffic, Clean Air Carolina worked toward promoting growth that would also keep the health and environment of North Carolina safe.

In the Triangle Area, Clean Air Carolina advocated in favor of the Wake County transit referendum expanding public transportation at the WakeUp Wake County community event. The $2.3 billion transit plan will triple the size of bus service, establish bus rapid transit (BRT) that will benefit Wake County commuters working in Raleigh, and develop a commuter rail connecting outlying suburbs to the growing Triangle cities. In November 2016, the transit plan passed with 53% of the referendum vote in favor.

Through our affiliation with the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, we supported the Fuel What Matters initiative, a campaign designed to help individuals and organizations improve the quality of their lives, pocketbooks, and communities with clean transportation choices. The initiative provides resources for families, individuals, and businesses.

Clean Air Carolina worked with state partners to develop a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan in response to the Volkswagen settlement. The automobile manufacturer violated the Clean Air Act through emissions control system manipulation. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency placed the $14.7 billion settlement in an Environmental Mitigation Trust. More than $87 million was allocated to North Carolina.

2016 Highlights

2016 NC BREATHE Conference

For the second year, Clean Air Carolina hosted the 2016 NC BREATHE conference at UNC Charlotte Center City. The conference examined health and economic factors influenced by air quality in the state and provided a discussion forum on how policy can bring about change not only in the health of its citizens, but the local economic picture. Speakers represented diverse fields of study and expertise.

NC Attorney General Roy Cooper served as the keynote speaker, and plenary sessions on health, economy, and environment were lead by Dr. Antonella Zanobetti of the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Christopher Timmins, professor of Economics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and Dr. Jason West, Environmental Sciences & Engineering professor at UNC Chapel Hill.

Additionally, over 30 speakers from across the state spoke on a wide range of air quality and health issues during eight breakout sessions, which include Clean Air & Heart Health, Economics of Clean Air Policy Making, and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

Bridging Research on Economics & Air Quality for The Health of Everyone

2016 Airkeeper Award Winners

Clean Air Carolina has an annual tradition of recognizing individuals and organizations for their leadership in air quality protection. Representatives from the medical community, environmental organizations, government and universities gathered to honor the work of individuals and companies working to improve air quality at a special Airkeeper Awards reception the evening before the NC BREATHE conference. The following Airkeepers were recognized:

Roy Cooper
NC Attorney General

James M. Kenny, MD
Member, Greenville, NC Environmental Advisory Commission
Advisory Board Member, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air

Nakisa Glover
Community Organizer, Justice Action Mobilization Network
Charlotte, NC

Novant Health
An integrated system of physician practices, outpatient clinics, and hospitals serving North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.

Rodgers Leeper & Vannoy Construction
Long-time Charlotte companies recognized nationally as top contractors in their field working with Novant Health.

2016 Board of Directors

Mary Joyce, Chair
Mary Joyce Consulting

Ericka-Ellis Stewart, Vice-chair
Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas, Inc.

Libby Cable, Secretary
Non profit Consultant

Steve Argo, Treasurer
The Argo Group

Brian Magi
Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, UNC Charlotte

Jim Godfrey

June Lambla
Lambla artWORKS, LLC

Martha Odom
The Odom Firm, PLLC

Gary Silverman
Department of Public Health
Sciences, UNC Charlotte

Kwame Alexander
R.J. Leeper Construction Company

Joy Marshall
NNT Data Consulting

2016 Staff

June Blotnick
Executive Director

Terry Lansdell
Program Director

Ernie McLaney
Deputy Director

Laura Wenzel
Manager, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air

Mary Stauble
Coordinator, Clear the Air for the Kids!

Kelly Picarsic
New Media Manager

Calvin Cupini
Coordinator, Citizen Science Program

Martha Fowler
Membership Specialist

2016 Financials

2016 Total Income


  • Contributions: 96.1%
  • Grants: 3.6%
  • Other: 0.3%

2016 Total Expenses


2016 Expense Report

thank you

The board and staff of Clean Air Carolina would like to thank you for your commitment to breathe clean air. 2016 served as a year of opportunity and growth as we launched our AirKeepers Program, a significant step towards making air visible to North Carolinians. We look forward to sharing the program’s success with you as we continue to touch the lives of more communities.

As your advocates for healthy air, we will stand for you and your right to clean and healthy air. We make it a priority to make every breath count – whether we’re rallying for clean air policies in Raleigh, bringing together leading researchers and policy makers, or creating art out of thin air in Charlotte, we use every resource available to give your breath a voice.

These exciting programs and events have both furthered our mission and raised our media profile, helping to drive broader awareness about Clean Air Carolina’s work. While we are proud of our achievements in 2016, our results are ultimately a testament to you, our donors. We thank you for your continued generosity. You and your fellow donors make a real and growing difference in the state of North Carolina.