People

Heather Toney

Heather Toney

VP, Community Engagement, Environmental Defense Fund

Elected at age 27, Heather McTeer Toney knows what it means to be a public servant. She was the first African-American, first female and the youngest Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi from 2004-2012. In 2014, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as Regional Administrator for Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Southeast Region. Known for her energetic and genuine commitment to people, her work has made her a national figure in the area of public service, environmental justice and community engagement. She currently serves as the Vice President of Community Engagement for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an organization that represent over 3 million climate and environment allies committed to fighting climate change and helping shape the world’s biggest solutions to the climate crisis. Prior to her role as Vice President, Heather served as Senior Director to Moms Clean Air Force.
The daughter of a civil rights attorney and public school teacher, Heather was born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi. As a Mayor, she led her city to emerge from significant debt while focused on sustainable infrastructure repair. This work opened the door to addressing the environmental and climate needs for vulnerable populations like Greenville. At EPA, she led efforts to create and support local environmental justice initiatives, promote clean energy and enhance the quality of work life for Region 4’s approximately 1,000 employees while effectively managing a budget of more than $500 million.

Throughout her career Heather has served in several leadership roles including Past President of the National Conference of Black Mayors. She is an expert on environmental and climate justice with SheSource, a publication of the Women’s Media Center and is often called up for advocacy and training diverse officials on equity in leadership, environment and climate. She has presented in over 15 countries including France, Portugal, Nigeria and Senegal. Heather has the honor of being a named fellow at several institutions, notably a 2021 Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago, Institute of Politics, An EPIC Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago and Elemental Excelerator, a new non-profit model for funding climate tech solutions.

Heather Toney speaks “people” and has appeared on numerous news outlets including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Democracy Now! She has written for and been featured in publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and is a regular columnist for DAME magazine. Heather was one of the essayist featured in the breakout Climate book of 2020, “All We Can Save”. She has received numerous awards but two of her favorites are the Marie Claire, Women on Top Award and the inaugural Rachel’s Network “Catalyst Awards” recognizing women of color that work on climate issues.

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