Environmental Justice Leader Darryl Molina Sarmiento is Organizing for Future Generations

by Crystal Shaw on September 19, 2017

“I'm doing this for my family, for our communities and for future generations..” says Darryl Molina Sarmiento, the new executive director of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) -- a current Liberty Hill Foundation grantee, while discussing her passion for her work.

Darryl Molina Sarmiento grew up in San Bernardino County where her grandfather, who was a farmer, grew Filipino foods in their backyard. Darryl remembers smoggy days, asthma issues and bringing her inhaler any time she went outside. When she participated in a toxic tour with Communities for a Better Environment while attending UCLA, Darryl was deeply impacted by the toxic pollution and its devastating impacts in South East Los Angeles.

Shortly after the toxic tour with CBE, Darryl participated in an immersion program in the Philippines to learn Tagalog. While there, Darryl was exposed to the impacts of US military bases and the toxic legacy they left behind in the country.  She.   came to understand that environmental racism in Southeast LA County and the toxic legacy of US military bases are both rooted in the same oppressive system that puts humanity in ecological crisis. 


This realization drove Darryl to do student organizing at UCLA, labor organizing with AFSCME 3299, and community organizing with the Pilipino Workers Center of Los Angeles. Then, she started at Communities for a Better Environment as a youth program coordinator. She worked her way up to program director before becoming the organization’s executive director.

Darryl uses her knowledge of injustice to fuel her passion to fight for a healthy and equitable environment for her family and community. Along the way to leading CBE she left her mark on L.A.’s environmental justice movement by helping win the campaign against Exide Technologies, participating in the steering committee for the Clean Up Green Up campaign and co-chairing the campaign against urban oil drilling called STAND-LA.  While Darryl has had plenty of career success, she attributes much of her advancement to mentors and partners along the way, including Liberty Hill. She describes how much working with Liberty Hill’s Common Agenda director, Michele Prichard, on campaigns like Clean Up Green Up and STAND LA played a role in her ascension stating, “Michele has been a strong partner of the EJ movement in Los Angeles for decades.   She has always supported my development and leadership as a mentor, colleague and friend.  .”

As mother to her five-year-old daughter Octavia, Darryl encourages fellow women to take on leadership in different capacities. She has taken Octavia to many rallies, often holding a mic in one arm and her daughter in another. Darryl says that working within the movement for social and environmental justice is her calling. It’s the work she wants to continue doing at CBE and beyond.