Title: Director, Founder, President
Company: Rise St. James
Location: Saint James, Louisiana, United States
Sharon Cayette Lavigne, Director, Founder and President at Rise St. James, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Executives for dedication, achievements, and leadership in environmental activism.
A respected voice in her community, Ms. Lavigne has been involved in environmental activism and leadership in her native Saint James, Louisiana since 2018 when a plastic production plant was set to be built two miles from her home. Due to the possible biohazards the plant would cause, Ms. Lavigne strongly opposed its building and decided to create a community organization in order to fight the construction. In 2018, she became the director, founder and president of Rise Saint James, a grassroots, faith-based organization dedicated to opposing the siting of new petrochemical facilities in the area out of concern for the worsening health effects and environmental pollution from local industry. To back her cause, Ms. Lavigne has notably organized marches, press conferences and demonstrations to give a voice to residents of Saint James. She is also an advocate in the region known as “Cancer Alley,” the 85-mile stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans heavily burdened by petrochemical facilities.
Notably, Ms. Lavigne was the recipient of the Centennial Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2019. In her advocacy work, Ms. Lavigne was proud to get rid of one industry from China called “Wan Wan” (Wanhua) in the local area. In addition to this pivotal achievement, Ms. Lavigne was particularly proud to be invited by U.S. Representative Paul D. Tonko to testify before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change in November of 2019. She has thoroughly enjoyed traveling the country and meeting other passionate environmental advocates, including Reverend William Barber. Ms. Lavigne credits her standout success to the dedicated members and volunteers of the Rise Saint James team, who motivate her to continue her efforts every day. She operates by the credo, “By saving our lives, we will save the environment.”
In addition to her activism, Ms. Lavigne has earned distinction as a special education teacher for nearly 40 years. She received a Bachelor of Science in special education from Southern University in 1976 and a Master of Science in special education from Southern University in 1979. Looking toward the future, Ms. Lavigne aspires to continue cleansing her town of the existing petroleum chemical plants that are poisoning her community. The conservation and protection of her community is something that Ms. Lavigne has always valued dearly, and she plans to continue to fight for the cause as long as conditions remain toxic.
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