Marylee Orr has led The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) for most of its twenty eight years. Marylee didn’t intend to work for the environment. In fact, her background was quite eclectic: she worked with Head Start, in real estate, and later owned an art gallery. Her life changed when her son was born with a respiratory illness that makes it incredibly hard for him to breathe. Marylee found inspiration in her son, and wanted to help people who were less prepared to advocate for themselves and the environment around them.
Orr is one of the co-founders of LEAN, which was formed in 1986. Orr administers the organization’s budget and manages its fundraising efforts through grants and membership development. She coordinates LEANs operations, community serves, board, and staff activities. Orr organizes member groups’ participation in public hearings, coordinates its media strategies on the local, state, and national level, and serves as the environmental community’s voice with local, state, and federal agencies. She organizes events related to issues of LEAN members, coordinates annual conferences for citizens, legislators, and other grass roots organization leaders on topics ranging from health issues to political activism.
LEAN is a community based not-for-profit organization that has been working since 1986 to resolve the unique environmental struggles present in Louisiana. Through education, empowerment, advocacy, and support; LEAN provides the necessary tools and services to individuals and communities facing environmental problems. Problems that often threaten their health, safety and quality of life.
Before LEAN was founded in 1986, polluters ran roughshod over Louisiana’s unique environment and way of life. By providing clear information about pollution and organizing groups into a statewide network, LEAN changed the balance of power. Lean stopped polluting facilities from being built and helped pass new policies protecting Louisianians’ health and way of life. Today, local governments and industries routinely consult LEAN at the start of applications for permits. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, LEAN has coordinated emergency relief, disseminated accurate information about pollution and its impacts, and worked toward restoration of the region’s habitats and cultures.
The purpose of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is to foster cooperation and communication between individual citizens and corporate and government organizations in an effort to assess and mend the environmental problems in Louisiana. LEAN’s goal is the creation and maintenance of a cleaner and healthier environment for all of the inhabitants of this state.
The LEAN network continues to win for the people, in the courts, in the legislature, and in the media:
- Because they are well-informed and dedicated to grassroots environmental activism.
- Because they bring strength of numbers to a leadership role in advocating for environmental protection and environmental justice.
- Because they represent an ever increasing dynamic force willing to speak on behalf of the environment in crucial situations.
- Because their allies are committed to supporting their work with enthusiasm, time, and money.
The LEAN network has been in the forefront of environmental activism in Louisiana:
- Working with citizens’ groups to develop, implement, protect, and enforce legislative and regulatory environmental safeguards.
- Publishing their E-Alerts Environmental Watch alerts and the continually evolving LEAN website which acts as a vital resource to those in the environmental community both domestically and internationally.
- Supporting grassroots organizations across the state who are fighting dozens of environmental battles.
- Coordinating the LEAN People’s Conference at which LEAN members gather for fellowship, education, and solidarity.
- Holding press conferences and sending out releases to inform the public of vital environmental issues and call governmental leaders to account.