Penny Newman

Penny Newman

Founder & Executive Director

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 an Instructional Aide for Jurupa Unified School District. After earning her degrees, she worked as a Substitute teacher for the district. Penny then worked as a Special Education teacher for Riverside Superintendent of Schools in a Severe Disorder of Language class at Jurupa Junior High School.

Active in the Community

Penny has been active in the community through many civic organizations including Little League, Cub/Boy Scouts, PTA and Junior Women’s Club. She 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.

Solutions to the Community Health Crisis

Ms. Newman has been most known for her work to find solutions to this health crisis for the community. Under her leadership the community:

  • Appeared at the United States 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.)
  • Filed a personal injury lawsuit resulting in a $114 Million settlement for residents
  • Helped to create the Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC).
  • 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
  • Was able to stop all exposures from the site

Air Pollution & Land Use / Transportation Issues

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:

  • California Air Resources Board Environmental Justice Advisory Committee
  • California Freight Advisory Committee for the Department of Transportation
  • Co-chair of the City of Jurupa Valley’s General Plan Advisory Committee
  • South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Home Rule Advisory Committee


In 2018 Penny was a unsuccessful candidate for Riverside County Supervisor for District 2.