Campfire Chat

Aha Moments: Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders

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Event Type
50th Anniversary
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Apr 21, 2021 05:00PM - 06:00PM
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Our future as a species on planet earth cannot be taken for granted. In a democracy, we all have a stake in helping the next generation understand the challenges it’s set to inherit. That’s the first step in developing the civic responsibility required to respond to those challenges. Through that lens, there may be nothing more important than inspiring and engaging the next generation of environmental stewards.

Join us for a Campfire Chat with Autumn Saxton-Ross, Ph.D., Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer at National Recreation and Parks Association; Chanté Coleman, Vice President of Equity and Justice at National Wildlife Federation; and Ronda Lee Chapman, Director of Equity at Trust for Public Land — three people in significant roles who are inspiring access, leadership and equity among current and future advocates and champions.

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Our Speakers

Autumn Saxton-Ross, Ph.D.

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Autumn, a D.C. resident and mother of two, received her Ph.D. from the department of Sociology at Howard University, preceded by a master’s degree in Public Health Education and Promotion from the same institution and undergraduate work in exercise science through The George Washington University. She is the Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer at National Recreation and Parks Association.

First developing a love of the outdoors through her grandmother’s yard and city parks in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, Autumn's research, academic and professional interests continue to focus on social and physical environments and their influences on physical activity, opportunity and resources — specifically in Black and urban populations — along with the health benefits of parks and green spaces. Her life’s work concentrates on improving the health of communities through engagement, activity, education, exposure and opportunity, truly believing that “a healthy life is lived better outdoors.”

Prior to her work at NRPA, she worked at NatureBridge where she oversaw programs at Prince William Forest and Shenandoah National Parks in Virginia. Her previous position as Program Director for Place-based Initiatives at the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) saw her encouraging the use of policy and environmental change as a solution to health inequities, focusing on communities of color. She began her career as an elementary school health and physical education teacher for D.C. Public Schools and has since consistently worked in positions placing her at the intersections of health, equity and the outdoors.

Chanté Coleman

Chanté Coleman serves as the Vice President of Equity and Justice at the National Wildlife Federation where she leads the effort to fully operationalize equitable policies and practices and supports the organization to actively challenge systemic racism. She drives culture change by reframing how the organization thinks about power, while also encouraging others to develop their own expertise on equity and justice in their work.

Coleman is an expert in large-scale ecosystem restoration and coalition-building and was previously the Director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, a 230-member advocacy organization focused on protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. At the Coalition, she led regional scale strategies to evolve an intentional focus on equity and justice for the Coalition and its member organizations. Chanté is a member of the Green Leadership Trust, was named a “rising star” by Green 2.0, is a 2017 Environmental Leadership Program Fellow and a 2020 Better Selves Fellow. She frequently appears as a speaker, trainer, and facilitator at conferences across the country.

Coleman is a graduate of Princeton University and California Western School of Law. She currently resides in Annapolis, Maryland, and is a firm believer in self-care, regularly practicing yoga and meditation.

Ronda Lee Chapman

In December 2020, Ronda stepped into the role of Director of Equity at The Trust for Public Land. Her career has been dedicated to racial Justice, equitable development, environmental education, sustainability planning, community engagement and restorative justice through roles including Equity and Community Engagement Advisor at the District Department of the Environment D.C.; Executive Director of Groundwork DC, Commissioner, Commission on Climate Change and Resilience for the Executive Office of the Mayor, Washington, D.C.; and Senior Associate at PolicyLink.

Most recently, as senior advisor at PolicyLink, Ronda provided policy research and capacity-building support for national and regional coalitions; and developed water-equity and climate resilient strategies and goals. For twenty years, Ronda led efforts on water infrastructure and equity, renewable energy, climate resilience, and waste management in municipal, higher education, and non-profit sectors. Throughout her career, she has dedicated her thought leadership towards advancing equity, diversity, justice, and inclusion principles in various professional and community-centered capacities. As a skilled facilitator, Ronda derives great joy convening leaders who are committed to the possibilities of equitable communities rooted in healing. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Ronda enjoys recreating outside whenever possible.

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