This Month in ReImagine Appalachia: June, 30, 2021

By June 30, 2021December 14th, 2021No Comments
The Black Appalachian Coalition officially launched!
We also held a webinar with the Ohio Environmental Council about what repairing the damage investments could mean for Ohio.

The Black Appalachian Coalition (BLAC)

This past Juneteenth weekend, Blaque Women Rising in partnership with the NAACP officially launched the Black Appalachian Coalition (BLAC).

BLAC aims to bring forward Black people in the region as leaders, credible messengers, and experts. Their very presence in public conversations can begin to shift fundamental narratives about Appalachia. And, they can do much more: they can identify and begin to remedy some of the racist policies that have long disadvantaged Black people in the region.

Learn more about the coalition and how to get involved at!

Watch a recap of the event here!

If you missed it, you can watch the event here!



Want your local community to make the list? Our resources are here: or email for more information.

Do you know (or are you) a local elected official? Please check out our local elected officials portal! Talk to your local elected officials and encourage them to sign up with us here.


Next Wednesday, July 7, Appalachian Voices will be releasing a new report, “Repairing the Damage: The costs of delaying reclamation at modern-era mines.” The report estimates the total outstanding amount of reclamation still needed at mountaintop removal and other coal mines from seven Eastern states, as well as the staggering estimated costs of that cleanup. 

Please join us for an informational webinar covering key report findings and suggested solutions on Wednesday, July 7th at 1 pm. 

As more coal companies declare bankruptcy, fewer companies remain to take over mines, so the number of companies abandoning their cleanup responsibilities will only increase. Despite a federal law requiring a cleanup program, some states may not have set aside enough money to guarantee mine reclamation in the face of widespread bankruptcy. Estimating outstanding needs and costs is an important first step in identifying possible solutions. 

Register for the webinar to hear directly from report authors and learn more.

Register Here

Join the leadership from Reimagine Appalachia, Keystone Research Center and PennFuture to get the latest updates on the campaign to pass an infrastructure bill that moves the Appalachian region into the future!  

We’ll update you on the latest content and activities from the campaign, including the launch of the Black Appalachian Coalition, a Pennsylvania sign-on letter, and details about Senator Casey’s upcoming Civilian Conservation Corps legislation. 

Register HERE 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

Please feel free to forward this email to your Pennsylvanian networks! 

Join the PA State Table Facebook group for updates!



Donald Walko, Jr.

Donald R. Walko, Jr. served as a Judge on theCourt of Common Pleas of Allegheny County from January of  2010 – Sept. 2020. During his time on the bench, Walko served on the Legislative Committee of the National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Allegheny County Bar Association for one three year term. Heresigned as a Judge to join the Black Voters Matter Coalition of Western Pennsylvania and to volunteer on the Biden for President and Dermody for Pennsylvania House campaigns in the fall of 2020.

Prior to becoming a Judge, Walko served as a Member of thePennsylvania House of Representatives from January of 1995 until January of 2010 when he resigned to become a Judge.  In the House, Walko served on the Judiciary Committee and was a leading advocate for problem-solving courts such as drug treatment, mental health and veterans’ courts.  He was also one of the architects of legislation in 2003 that added more than 115,000 older Pennsylvanians to the Commonwealth’s prescription drug programs.

Before 1995, Walko held various positions including Associate Lawyer with Alan D.Hertzberg & Associates,Accounting Manager with theOffice of Pittsburgh City Controller Thomas E. Flaherty, and Controller of theCommunity Technical Assistance Center.

Walko has a long history of community engagement.  Before he was commissioned as a Judge, Walko served as Chairman of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Trustee of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, Associate Director of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices, President, Perry Hilltop Citizens Council,  Advisory Board Member, Homeless Children’s Education Fund.  He served in numerous other volunteer positions throughout the years.

Walko is married to Julie Jarbeck Walko.  They have four adult children:  Jessika Sue, Nicholas Joseph, Nathaniel D’Amico, and Gabriella Grace.  Walko and his wife are not empty-nesters, since they have two rescue dogs, Willow and Nala.