Marylee Orr has led LEAN for most of its twenty five years. Marylee didn't intend to work for the environment. In fact, her background was quite eclectic: she worked with Head Start, in real estate, and later owned an art gallery. Her life changed when her son was born with a respiratory illness that makes it incredibly hard for him to breathe. Marylee found inspiration in her son, and wanted to help people who were less prepared to advocate for themselves and the environment around them.
Orr is one of the co-founders of LEAN, which was formed in 1986. Orr administers the organization's budget and manages its fundraising efforts through grants and membership development. She coordinates member groups, board, and staff activities. Orr organizes member groups' participation in public hearings, coordinates its media strategies on the local, state, and national level, and serves as the environmental community's voice with local, state, and federal agencies. She organizes events related to issues of LEAN members, coordinates annual conferences for citizens, legislators, and other grass roots organization leaders on topics ranging from health issues to political activism.
Orr was featured in Family Circle Magazine; the Lifetime movie of the week, Taking Back Our Town; and in numerous articles about successful environmental activists. An EPA report credits LEAN and Orr with giving a voice to the people concerned about releases of toxic chemicals from local facilities. Orr attributes her motivation to the constant positive pressure from the members, board, and staff to hold polluting facilities accountable.
Links of Interest: