Penny Newman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ), a non-profit, grassroots, base-building organization working on environmental health and justice issues in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. She retired in March of 2018 after 40 years of service. She has lived in Glen Avon for 53 years with her husband, Jan, a retired fire fighter and two Yorkies – Jiminy and Cricket. Penny has two sons, Eric - who owns Ted’s Rod Shop, building legendary custom cars and hot rods; and Shawn - Riverside County Fire Chief and Regional Ranger Unit Chief with CALFIRE.
Penny professional education is in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in neuropathology. She earned her Associate of Arts degree (with Great Distinction) from Riverside Community College and in 1981 received her Bachelor of Science degree (with Honors) in Communicative Disorders from California State University at Fullerton.
Penny worked as and Instructional Aide for Jurupa Unified School District and after earning her degrees worked as a Substitute teacher for the district and ultimately worked as a Special Education teacher for Riverside Superintendent of Schools in a Severe Disorder of Language class at Jurupa Junior High school.
Penny has been active in the community through several civic organizations including Little League, Cub/Boy Scouts, PTA, Junior Women’s Club and earned the inaugural “Jurupa’s Citizen of the Year” award from the West Riverside Business Association. In 1978, seeing the threat to her children and the community, Penny focused her attention on the Stringfellow Acid Pits, a hazardous waste dump site located in Pyrite Canyon and began organizing to stop exposures from the then uncontrolled toxic chemicals. Ms. Newman has been most known for her work to find solutions to this health crisis for the community. Under her leadership the community was able to stop all exposures from the site; obtained state funding for connection of private water wells onto Jurupa Community Service District expanding the service district area without any expense to local residents; provided a process for affected residents to be involved in all decisions at the site; filed a personal injury lawsuit resulting in a $114 Million settlement for residents; appeared at the US Supreme Court to maintain our right to participate in decisions and passed comprehensive state and federal legislation to deal with toxic chemicals (Superfund, Right to Know, etc.) and helped to create the Dept. of Toxic Substances (DTSC).
In recent years Penny has been active in addressing air pollution issues, land use and transportation. She has served on many public policy forums from the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Home Rule Advisory Committee; California Freight Advisory Committee for the Department of Transportation; California Air Resources Board Environmental Justice Advisory Committee; and co-chair of the City of Jurupa Valley’s General Plan Advisory Committee. In 2018 Penny was a unsuccessful candidate for Riverside County Supervisor for District 2.