Accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion webinar discussion | eePRO @ NAAEE

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Accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion webinar discussion

Thanks to those of you who were able to join us in today’s webinar, “Building a Successful 21st Century EE Movement: Accelerating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Since we barely touched the tip of the iceberg of our passionate topic, our distinguished guest panelists will be checking this discussion thread over the next two days, June 8 – June 10, to answer any questions or respond to comments you might have regarding diversity, equity and inclusion in the EE profession.

Marcelo is the Philanthropy Northwest Momentum Fellow at Meyer Memorial Trust in Oregon and founder of the Center for Diversity and the Environment. Audrey is the President of Earthwise Productions providing consulting and training services to public land managers, conservation organizations, and others seeking to gain market share in urban communities. She is also a board member of the National Parks Conservation Association.

Marcelo and Audrey, thanks for continuing to share your time and expertise with us. I have listed below the resources mentioned during the webinar. Do you have any recommendations for resources or resource people/organizations which our members might turn to for additional support in their DEI efforts?

Thanks for the opportunity, everyone! Many of our speakers at are authors on the subject of diversity/inclusion and how Americans of ethnic ancestry view and access our great outdoors. They include me and Frank; Dr. Carolyn Finney; Dr. Lauret Savoy; James Mills; Jarid Manos and Queen Quet. Members of our team live in communities extending from Washington State to the US Virgin Islands, and include mountaineers who've climbed to the summits of the highest mountains on four continents; solo-circumnavigated the globe in their 50s, are McArthur Genius Award winners for urban revitalization and experts in STEM such as Dr. Gillian Bowser, Prof. Stefan Moss and many others. Engaging any one in this team puts sooo much transformative resource at your fingertips, but first, we must change our ideas of who does/is capable of doing what in the outdoors/environmental space.

Thanks for moderating us Darryl.

A few other resources come to mind.

1. For people of color working on environmental issues, the Center for Diversity & the Environment has an Environmental Professionals of Color national network. Local chapters are in New York, DC, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and other locations. Learn more -

2. Nonprofits with Balls- Blog by Vu Le. Focused on the nonprofit field in general, uplifting the voice and challenges of people of color led organizations. When Audrey and I mentioned in the webinar that the environmental movement and people of color efforts are for the most part operating on different tracks, blog author, Vu Le, with humor and intelligent insight opens the door to the nonprofit world in which people of color operate. Vu is really funny and is also available for keynotes.

Thanks so much for your resource recommendations, Marcelo and Audrey...and great profile pic with President Obama, Audrey!:)

For those of you just joining this discussion thread, Wednesday’s webinar was not recorded due to technical difficulties. So here in a nutshell is summary of the webinar conversation with Marcelo and Audrey....

Marcelo shared information about his effort to help re-envision how philanthropy can influence the engagement and success of diverse groups in the environmental movement and influence progress of diversity, equity, and inclusion by prioritizing it in giving programs. Funding is the resource many environmental efforts lack, which is a common barrier to diversity, equity, and inclusion progress. He also mentioned that instead of focusing on addressing the issue of diversity as the primary goal, he recommends to focus on the issue of ensuring equity first, which is the pathway of his current workplace. When environmental equity is elevated as the measurement of success, inclusion and diversity will naturally result next. He emphasized the extreme importance of everyone in voicing the importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity to the funding community since this will be an effective and powerful way to bring about environmental philanthropic change and will result in the transformation of the environmental movement.

Audrey shared the importance of recognizing the talent and leadership in diverse communities. She emphasized that the key need is to rid ourselves of the stereotypes that posit urban communities as being uninterested, uninvolved or afraid of nature. Once we deal with that fallacy, we can address the business of building bridges to develop mutually respectful relationships with diverse stakeholders. We can only mobilize the kind of massive environmental change needed if we work together. She shared the example of her recent success drawing together a coalition of Americans of African, Asian, Hispanic and Native descent to ask President Obama to issue a Presidential Proclamation on the National Park Service’s Centennial calling for the national parks to reflect the increasing diversity of this country (its visitors and workers) and increase the number of historical sites representing the contributions of non-white Americans.

Unfortunately, we only had time to answer one audience member question... “How do you recognize the history of communities of color and the history of the environmental movement?”

Audrey responded that we must recognize the historical contributions of non-white Americans in the environmental movement and who helped build America. These stories must be made known, especially to the communities of which such stories would be most relevant. Marcelo responded that everyone, no matter their background, has a relationship with the environment…but their experience may not fall into what is commonly embraced by the dominant white definition of “environment.” Everyone has their own stories and it is up to each of us to listen to and uphold these diverse stories and value the variety of experiences diverse peoples have in the environment.

Do you have a question for Audrey or Marcelo? Feel free to ask away:)…

Hello Audrey or Marcelo. I've just been named to head a Diversity Task-force for a National membership organization. We will kick off the task-force with a board training and a discussion about what DEI efforts should look like for this national organization. Do you have any suggestions for strategies or questions to lead the discussion? This will be the first time the organization has tackled such issues on a large scale.

Hi Parker! Excited for you! Pls forgive me, but we must first of all acknowledge that we are way behind the curve if we're just starting this discussion. Pls take a look at the White House or Facebook thread about Pres. Obama and the First Family's visit to Yosemite this past Fathers Day weekend, and see the diversity of young leaders who were part of, primarily from the Children & Nature Network and other urban-based outdoor initiatives who are far ahead of the curve...within this dichotomy you might orient your board to the speed and alacrity that they need to invest in catching up. The first thing I always want to explode is if there's self satisfaction with "beginning" when we've been clamoring for this change for more than 20 years. Green 2.0 has just issued some best practices. I suggest you have a conversation with a small influential group of leaders in the organization starting with the Pres to gauge the depth of commitment and whether they realize the urgency and are committed for the long haul. Success starts from the top so if that person is unprepared for change, you're unlikely to go far. Once you've had the conversation and also figured out what your budget is to get this done - often there's no budget allocated so it becomes another add on to someone's job and therefore will not get the energy needed - then agree to seek professional help ..bring in a trainer who's equipped to investigate and share the true state of the organization relative to diversity, and help you lay out a plan for where you've agreed you want to get to. We have plenty of speakers at our website Thanks for the opportunity to share