The Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau

In a Washington, DC hotel room I resigned myself to the image in the mirror. Years ago I swore among other things that I would never work a job that required me to wear a tie. And as I dressed for an appointment at the prestigious National Press Club in denim jeans, a long sleeve shirt and a blazer I finally abandoned my last attempt at conformity. I slipped loose the top button of my collar, grabbed my camera bag and made for the elevator. Still known in some circles as The Outdoor Professional I had a reputation to uphold. Even as I aimed to charge the halls of power in our nation’s capital I’ll be damned if I’m ever caught dead with a silk noose tied around my neck.

Joining a new cohort of fellow outdoorsmen and women, I met in the hotel lobby a legion of heroes. Each of them an expert in the field of environmental conservation we gathered in a show of force to demonstrate the collective power of a people united in a common cause. From a broad range of backgrounds and experience we would bring to bear a vast wealth of knowledge and information to dispel a popular myth. Despite all evidence to the contrary people of color do indeed have a relationship with the natural world. In fact, we always have.

The Diverse Environmental Leaders (DEL) speakers bureau launched this week to inform the nation of incredibly good news. As interest groups dedicated to the preservation of natural resources and public land have lamented with great disappointment their inability to find, recruit, hire, retain and promote people of color within their ranks DEL has arrived on the scene to provide the expertise and guidance to fulfill this desperate need. As the United States population shifts to favor a non-white majority hundreds of public and private institutions now have a reliable recourse upon whom to call for a variety of different services to make their organizations more diverse, inclusive and culturally relevant.

“By aggregating a fraction of the environmental leadership and talent in our urban communities, we are making ourselves more visible and accessible,” said Audrey Peterman, President of Earthwise Productions Inc. and one of the visionaries behind the new bureau. “For almost 20 years I’ve lived in a world of duality where the environmental boards I sit on bemoan their lack of diversity, and the grassroots groups are nonplussed as to why they can’t connect to the mainstream conservation organizations. It seems only natural to organize so that the two sides can more clearly see and reach each other.”

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