In a single day, Irena may be working in coalition with community partners, grassroots organizations and other stakeholders; collaborating with technical experts for the preparation of a report or testimony; and moving the needle on environmental justice, climate change, and water pollution in the courts.
She litigates high impact matters of climate change, environmental justice, and water pollution in state and federal court and in administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings. She represents SELC in public settings including coalition and community meetings, hearings, panel presentations, and with press. Elevating and amplifying the voices of community partners to achieve systemic change is her priority.
Irena also identifies legislative, executive, and regulatory opportunities to advance climate and environmental justice at the state and federal level. She brings together and collaborates with environmental advocates, community organizations, neighborhood associations, and loosely formed groups seeking to achieve climate and environmental justice.
“As a community lawyer who believes that solutions for a healthy environment start in the South, I am honored to elevate the voices of directly impacted Black and Brown communities disproportionately bearing the burden of environmental injustice,” Irena said.
Irena’s SELC work builds on 15 years of broad litigation and advocacy experience in strategic civil rights, appellate work, class actions, media and communications, inclusive and collaborative leadership, and holistic public defense. She is fluent in Spanish, Albanian, and Italian.
Originally from Tirana, Albania, Irena moved to North Carolina in 2016. She enjoys exploring the trails and mountains of Western North Carolina with her family. “It is special to watch my children cultivate a deep appreciation for these places as well as the natural beauty closer to home in the Triangle region,” she said.
- ACLU of North Carolina, deputy legal director
- New York City Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice, staff attorney
- J.D., Notre Dame Law School, London Law Programme
- M.A., Central European University, with honors
- B.A., Earlham College, with highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa
- With SELC since 2022