Sharon Lavigne is native to St. James, Louisiana, a small town along the Mississippi River. Growing up, Sharon lived off the land. She was a special education teacher for 38 years in the St.James Parish school system. In 2018, Sharon founded RISE St. James, a faith-based, grassroots, nonprofit organization fighting for clean air and water as well as the eradication of petrochemical industries in St. James Parish. She hosted the first meetingin her den with approximately 10 individuals present. During this year, Sharon retired to dedicate herself full-time to the fight for environmental justice. In June 2021, Sharon was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for environmental activism in her community. In February 2022, she received the Mary Magdalene Award for Courageous Women of Faith from the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, in New York City. Most recently, Sharon received Notre Dame's 2022 Laetare Medal, the most prestigious honor given to an American Catholic layperson. Sharon is a mother of six and a grandmother of 12. She’s blessed to have her family’s support in protecting the environment and the eradication of air, water, and land pollution in majority Black communities.