A former New York state senator who recently led the National Association of Real Estate Brokers has become the latest leader of an organization that advocates clean energy usage in the transportation sector.
Last November, Antoine Thompson became the executive director of the Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition (GWRCCC), a public-private partnership that promotes the use of clean American transportation fuels for homeland security, improved air quality, environmental justice, diversity and inclusion.
Anne Steckel, vice chair of GWRCCC’s board of directors, said Thompson has the credentials to spearhead the organization’s initiatives.
“With the nation very focused on alternative fuels, green businesses and green jobs, Antoine’s experience managing organizations, building coalitions and leadership in government and advocacy is critically important to GWRCCC members and the clients, customers and the communities they serve,” she said.
Thompson expressed enthusiasm about his new job.
“I see this job as a great opportunity to advocate for green transportation,” he said. “I have long supported environmentally safe projects. As a state senator representing the Buffalo area, I received recognition for my work sponsoring and supporting legislation promoting a safe and clean environment.”
Thompson, a native of Buffalo, graduated from its public schools and received his dual bachelor’s degree in History and African and Afro-American Studies from SUNY Brockport. He also studied at the University of Ghana in Accra.
Thompson won election to the Buffalo Common Council in 2001 where he passed legislation dealing with fair housing, minority and women business enterprise inclusion and obtained $75 million for community development projects. However, his election to the Senate in 2006 became his platform for environmental issues.
Thompson served as the deputy majority whip and chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conversation and co-chair of that chamber’s Minority and Woman Business Enterprise Task Force. Additionally, he served as the key force behind the Green Jobs/Green New York Law, a statewide program designed to promote energy efficiency and the installation of clean technologies to reduce energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Later, he moved to the Washington area where he served as the executive director of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the country’s oldest organization of Black real estate professionals. During his tenure, Thompson worked to increase Black homeownership and lobbied Congress supporting that objective.
He said day-to-day management of the GWRCCC will be his primary responsibility. And he plans to speak out on an emerging issue in communities of color: transit equity.
“Many of our Black and Brown communities are transit deserts,” he said. “Residents in those communities have problems getting around without a car. Even those who do have electric cars don’t have easy access to electric charging stations. Needless to say, those communities suffer from environmental racism brought on by cars that are run on fossil fuels. Those problems include excessive pollution that cause asthma, hypertension and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially in kids. Plus, people of color tend to ride on dirty buses instead of clean ones.”
He views transit-oriented development, in which economic and residential projects develop near Metro stations, as good but bemoans nearby homes’ property values rising to the point where they are out of reach for low- and middle-income people.
On Dec. 16, Thompson received national attention when he visited an electric car charging station with Vice President Kamala Harris in Prince George’s County. He said events such as that will help him deliver his message of the benefits of using clean energy for transportation projects and modes.
“I will lobby Congress and local governments and speak to any group, even faith-based organizations, on making sure that our cars and buses meet green standards that will benefit all people who reside in the D.C. area,” Thompson said.