Donna Stephens- 2022 Power to Inspire Honoree


Donna Stephens is an Atlanta native, graduate of Georgia State University, community organizer, representative for the US EPA Environmental Justice Academy, and a force of nature on issues related to historical truth and environmental justice.    

Though born and raised in Atlanta, Donna did not know that her hometown was re-built, after the Civil War and Emancipation, through the labor of newly freed African Americans who had been re-enslaved under the coercive practice known as “convict leasing.”  Under this practice, businesses and government leaders arrested African Americans on bogus or petty charges and leased them to prison work camps that were near impossible to escape.   

 After Donna learned that convict leasing happened in her own neighborhood, on the site of the former Chattahoochee Brick Company, she decided to teach others about Atlanta’s buried history and become a voice for victims and their descendants. She founded the Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants Coalition and has advocated to turn the site of the former brick company into a memorial.