Dr. Nicky Sheats, Ph.D, Esq., M.P.P. is the Director of the Center for the Urban Environment at the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University. The primary mission of the Center is to provide support for the environmental justice (EJ) community on a local, state and national level. He works on issues that include air pollution, climate change, cumulative impacts, developing EJ legal strategies and increasing the capacity of the EJ community to address these and other issues.
Sheats is, and has been, a member of a number of EJ organizations and coalitions. He was a founding member of the NJ EJ Alliance, the EJ Leadership Forum on Climate Change, the EJ and Science Initiative, an informal northeast EJ attorneys’ group, the Building Equity and Alignment Initiative, the Equitable and Just National Climate Forum and the Coalition for Healthy Ports. Most of these coalitions operate on a national level. He was also appointed to several governmental councils including the New Jersey Clean Air Council, and the EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and National EJ Advisory Council. Sheats is currently serving on the recently formed White House EJ Advisory Council which is charged with helping the Council on Environmental Quality address a wide range of EJ issues. In addition to participating on governmental advisory bodies, Sheats was a co-author of the human health chapter of the 2014 National Climate Assessment.
Early in his career, Sheats was a public interest attorney, serving as a law clerk for the Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (the local Court); a landlord-tenant and housing attorney at Camden Regional Legal Services; a public defender in New Brunswick, New Jersey; and a legal instructor at a law-oriented college preparatory program in Harlem. He holds an undergraduate economics degree from Princeton University and earned a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences, J.D. and M.P.P. from Harvard University.