top of page

Advisory Board

Dr. Cornell West, affectionately known to many as Brother West, is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. West teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects -- including but by no means limited to, the classics, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature, and music. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Dr. West is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.
Having written 20 books and edited 13, he is best known for his classics: Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

Dr. West has partnered with to provide teachings on several influential courses including a class with Pharrell Williams on Empathy, MasterClass’ first-ever multi-instructor class on Black History, Black Freedom & Black Love, as well as Dr. West’s standalone class on Philosophy.

Dr. Cornel West

"RBI is a crucial next step in the Black Freedom movement - self-determination and dignity! Let us support this marvelous new project!"

A Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, Dr. David Orr is the author of eight books and 250 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications on the subjects of climate change, democracy, and environmental justice. His current work at Arizona State University and Denver is on the repair and strengthening American democracy.

 In addition to his work at Arizona State University, Dr. David Orr serves as a Trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and Children and Nature Network. A recipient of nine honorary degrees, Dr. Orr has also been awarded the Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation; a “Visionary Leadership Award” from Second Nature; a National Leadership award from the U.S. Green Building Council; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Association for Environmental Education; the 2018 Leadership Award from the American Renewable Energy Institute; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Green Energy Ohio.

Dr. David W. Orr

"The Rural Beacon Initiative stands at the crossroads where issues of economic justice, land stewardship, and climate change converge. RBI's methods are practical, grounded in a historic place but its vision is in that great prophetic tradition extending from Isaiah through Martin Luther King and beyond."

Dr. Yolanda Banks Anderson is Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development and Resources at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). Having earned over $4.5 million in grants, doctor banks Anderson has served as the principal investigator for numerous bodies of work, covering environmental health and justice, environmental monitoring, sustainable communities, and science education.

In addition, Dr. Banks Anderson serves on the External Advisory Committee for the Center for Advancement of STEM Leadership. She was then named Co-Chair of the Project Kaleidoscope STEM Leadership Institute, and worked with Grassroots Energy Alliance. She was an institutional participant in the Preparing Critical Future Faculty Program and served on the Board of Directors of the Land Loss Prevention Project, the Board of Trustees for North Carolina Environmental Defense, and the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Environmental Education Fund.

She is a member of the Society of Toxicology, the North Carolina Society of Toxicology, and the American Public Health Association. Dr. Anderson received her PhD degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her Master of Science degree in Environmental Health Science from the Harvard School of Public Health, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Dr. Yolanda Banks Anderson

"RBI demonstrates an innovative way forward in the pursuit of environmental justice, climate justice and sustainable land ownership. It is a model which needs to be widely replicated."

bottom of page