Natalie Bump Vena received her J.D. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s School of Law and Department of Anthropology in 2016. Her research and teaching interests concern environmental policymaking in U.S. cities. She is admitted to the New York State Bar.
Vena’s longterm research examines the history of natural resources preservation in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, which protects 69,000 acres of land encompassing Chicago. Specifically, she explores the role of volunteerism, statutory language, and eminent domain litigation in creating this urban wilderness over the past one hundred years. Vena is also analyzing the evolution of nature education in the Cook County forest preserves and the district’s underlying goal of transforming metropolitan residents into responsible stewards.
Vena has an active research agenda in New York City. She is currently undertaking fieldwork and advocacy concerning a South Ozone Park community’s protracted recovery from a sewage backup that occurred in 2019. She is also studying the implementation of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (2019), particularly the process of defining “disadvantaged communities.”
Vena is committed to a fully-funded CUNY and has written about how the institution’s historic policies of free tuition and open admissions changed her mother’s life.
Before joining the faculty of Queens College, Vena taught at Williams College, where she served as the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She is an affiliate member of the New York City Bar Association’s Environmental Law Committee.
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