Clean Air Activist Dominique Browning Receives Audubon’s 2016 Rachel Carson Award


“Mothers have to bear responsibility for creating the world in which we want to live.”



Dominique Browning

When Dominique Browning co-founded Moms Clean Air Force  (MCAF) in 2011, her goal was to educate, and to engage mothers in the fight for clean air. Five years later, as MCAF’s senior director, she has not only enlisted the participation of some 725,000 members, but tomorrow will be a 2016 recipient of Audubon’s Rachel Carson Award. The award provides tangible proof that her work is making a difference.

The award, an 18k gold pendant necklace with a cameo likeness of Rachel Carson, designed and donated by Tiffany & Co., will be presented at a luncheon tomorrow, May 17, in New York City.

According to the award letter from Allison Whipple Rockefeller, Founding Chair, Rachel Carson Awards Council and Founder of Audubon’s Women in Conservation,

“The Award honors women leaders who make remarkable contributions to the environmental movement, and who reflect Rachel Carson’s long-term focus and achievement, courage and fortitude. Audubon’s Rachel Carson Award is one of the most recognized and prestigious awards for women leaders in American conservation today.”

A well-known writer and editor who topped the masthead at House & Garden magazine for more than a decade, Browning has turned her formidable leadership skills and deep passion for the environment toward tackling today’s thorniest and most consequential challenge: climate disruption and its impact on clean air and children’s health.

In a recent telephone interview, she shared credit for the award with her MCAF team, adding, “It is an enormous acknowledgement of what we’ve accomplished. It is thrilling to know we are being noticed and appreciated by the larger community. We are an upstart and a start-up— no one had engaged mothers on climate change and children’s health.”

Indeed, as Rockefeller wrote in her letter, “ . . . with the heart of a mother passionately protective of her children and the children of others, your focus and leadership have been crucial in educating American citizens, particularly parents and families, on one of the most fundamental elements to the survival of life: clean air.”

MCAF members advocate for clean air through petitions, listening sessions, town hall meetings, and by visiting members of congress, governors, and county officials. Through those activities, Rockefeller writes, “Moms Clean Air Force has shown the strength of its political voice to alert and persuade those in power about environmental degradation, specifically toxins found in air, and to the larger issue of climate change.”

Browning’s decision to engage mothers in reforming outdated environmental legislation and strengthening and expanding current standards, such as the 1970 Clean Air Act, was rooted in her belief in the power of women’s voices. “It bothers me that people think women’s issues are narrowly focused on reproductive health. Women’s issues are wide-ranging—and climate change should be among our priorities. No matter how much progress we have made, in the last few decades, in sharing the work of homemaking and child rearing, it is mothers on whom the burdens usually fall. Mothers are on the front lines of dealing with the impacts of climate change on children’s health. Mothers are usually the ones who are home when children have asthma attacks, or fall ill due to tick- and mosquito-borne diseases, or suffer heat exhaustion, and cannot go to school. Mothers are the ones who are protesting fracking facilities dangerously near schoolyards. Mothers have to bear responsibility for creating the world in which we want to live.”

RELATED: Dominique Browning: ‘Making a Difference in the Air We Breathe’

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  • ellensue jacobson May 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Kudos for Dominique Browning on what she has done and is doing. Air pollution is a difficult topic because we cannot touch it or see it.