Speaker Bios

Investing in Rural Integrated Voter Engagement Strategies to Revitalize Democracy

Viola (“Vi”) Waghiyi | Environmental Health and Justice Program Director | Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)

Vi is a Yupik grandmother who was born in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island. Vi was hired in 2002 to work in Anchorage to assist on the St. Lawrence Island environmental health and justice project. She became the Project Coordinator in 2004, which included supervising ACAT’s research staff on St. Lawrence Island. When her work expanded in 2005, Vi’s title was changed to Environmental Justice Community Coordinator. In 2009, she stepped into the position of Program Director to share responsibilities with the executive director for all of ACAT’s efforts. In 2010, she was awarded the Environmental Achievement Award in Recognition of Valuable Contributions to Environmental Excellence in Alaska by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. In 2012 leaders of Savoonga presented Vi with a certificate of appreciation “for the dedication and devoted service as an Ambassador of St. Lawrence Island for protecting our health and human rights.” She serves as a National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council member to the National Institute of Health. Vi is sought out repeatedly to speak at national and international meetings about ACAT’s work.


Pamela K. Miller |  Executive Director | Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT)

Pamela founded ACAT in 1997. She is a European American. Since 2000, ACAT has been awarded multiple federal grants for which Pam has been serving as team leader and, from 2005 through 2016, as Principal Investigator of a research team that includes faculty from four universities in Alaska and New York. These research projects rely on collaborative efforts with tribes in Alaska to address environmental health and justice issues. Pam is a leader in Coming Clean, a national network of groups concerned about chemicals policy reform, and in the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, an international partnership committed to strengthening the scientific and public dialogue on environmental factors linked to chronic disease and disability. She is one of the world’s foremost experts concerning the toxic pesticide lindane, serving two governmental organizations (United Nations and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation) to address international concerns about lindane. She was instrumental in prompting the 2006 decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw agricultural products containing lindane from the U.S., the 2010 decision by the same agency to phase out uses of endosulfan, and the 2011 decision by the United Nations Environment Programme to ban endosulfan worldwide under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. In 2012, she was elected as the only American on the Steering Committee for the International POPs Elimination Network. Pam is known for her work to prompt state, national, and international chemicals policy reform to protect environmental and human health in the Arctic. She was selected as a fellow for the Reach the Decision Makers program from the University of California San Francisco, Reproductive Health and Environment Program (2011); was invited to participate in an unprecedented White House Forum on Environmental Justice (2010); and selected to serve on an environmental justice advisory group for the Centers for Disease Control (2009-2010). In 2012, she received the Meritorious Service Award from the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska for her service to the community. In 2013, Pam was invited to serve on the board of directors for the Groundswell Fund. She holds a master’s degree in environmental science from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (1981).


Julie Warden | Communications Director | West Virginia Focus Reproductive Education & Equality (WV FREE)

Residing in Jackson County, WV, Julie comes to WV FREE with over ten years of experience statewide in public relations, communications, marketing, branding, and outreach. She is a graduate of West Virginia University with a B.S. in Journalism and a Minor in Communications and has had the opportunity to speak at three international events on social media.

Julie is passionate about moving the state of West Virginia forward and standing with WV women. She is an alumna of the Leadership West Virginia program (2013−The Best Class Ever) and is a former Mrs, West Virginia International. Julie is involved in numerous organizations statewide and enjoys volunteering to promote a positive image of the Mountain State.