Meet the 2019 Better Selves Fellows
Among these 50 fellows are individuals who have overturned a 138-year-old Jim Crow-era law in Louisiana; erected a monument and memorial garden to cotton-pickers and sharecroppers of the American South; co-founded a semester program on climate change, and run state-wide programs assisting people in crisis. One fellow is supporting young girls who lost a parent or sibling to homicide and another is an advocate for incarcerated survivors of sexual violence. One represents the Elnu Abenaki Tribe of the people of Vermont, and another serves as counsel for approximately 50,000 poor people in Louisiana.
They are defenders and advocates for the Zuni Tribe, U.S. Gulf Coast fisherman, and Trinidadian oilfield workers. They are defying society’s stereotype of children with incarcerated parents and seeking better ways to do conservation work that respects the traditional lifeways of Indigenous Peoples. They are fighting for clean water and helping thousands of adults to realize their full potential.
These fellows draw upon indigenous history, linguistics, geography, and cultural practice to explore and share other ways of seeing and being in relationship with place. Their voices are their superpowers.
Robresha“Bree” Anderson is a native New Orleanian that graduated from Warren Easton Sr. High School. Bree is an advocate, social entrepreneur and trauma expert, in view of parental incarceration and her story has been featured on talk shows, panels and news articles about how mass incarceration affects children. Her social experience led her to become a community leader by helping to eliminate race-based discrimination as a former committee member of the NAACP and actively serve as a board member of Innocence Project New Orleans Young Professional Committee to defy society’s stereotype of children with incarcerated parents. As well as, the Co-Founder of Daughters Beyond Incarceration, a non-profit geared towards enhancing the overall life of girls with incarcerated fathers.
Aaron Asis is a public artist focused on promoting access, awareness and appreciation – throughout our built environments. Born and raised in New York City, Aaron’s work explores a variety of artistic processes designed to inspire, educate, and demonstrate the power of creative collaborations – at the intersection of public interest, community engagement, and governmental coordination.
ELISABETH BALSTER DABNEY
Elisabeth Balster Dabney is the executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, an environmental conservation organization working to protect 180 million acres of Arctic and sub-Arctic Alaska. Elisabeth is a second-generation Alaskan and identifies as a settler on the traditional lands of the Lower Tanana Dene Peoples. She is an historian by training and seeking better ways to do conservation work that respects the traditional lifeways of Alaska’s Indigenous Peoples and keeps Alaska’s vibrant and thriving ecosystems intact for future generations.
Rich Bard has been working in some aspect of conservation for his entire 25-year career, though the exact work has changed a number of times. He has been a zookeeper, a wolf biologist in Arizona, a Maine state wildlife biologist, a farmer, and the Executive Director of two different land trusts. He is also the author of “Beyond Acadia: Exploring the Bold Coast of Down East Maine,” a travel guide to the easternmost part of the Maine coast, published in 2019. Rich lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and son where he loves exploring the city and surrounding countryside on foot or by bicycle. He is the Executive Director of Scarborough Land Trust.
Gail Burton grew up in East Harlem NYC and currently lives in Providence, RI. She is an educator, theater practitioner and Joker of Theater of the oppressed. She is a member of the facilitation collective, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) and studied as a Joker under the guidance of Marie-Claire Picher and Augusto Boal. Additionally, she has trained Jokers of Theater of the Oppressed nationally through the TOPLAB facilitation training program, and internationally for the Federation of Senegalese Theater of the Oppressed groups. She has facilitated workshops for hundreds of participants since beginning to practice theater of the oppressed techniques in 2006. Recently, she became a core group member of the Water Is Life campaign—Land and Water Sovereignty Project to fight the monetization and privatization of water in RI.
Jacob Campbell is a Cultural Anthropologist with the Keller Science Action Center at The Field Museum, where he leads the social science team for the Chicago region program. His recent applied research, pedagogy, and collaborative programming has focused on cultural connections to the natural world in cities. He works with partners across Chicago to create more equitable city institutions and green spaces that help communities thrive. He specializes in collaborative research that informs decision-making about biodiversity conservation, land management, and public space design. Jacob also co-directs the Urban Ecology Field Lab undergraduate summer course at the Field Museum, and is adjunct professor of environmental science at DePaul University. Previously, he worked with artists, organizers and educators on Chicago’s West Side as program manager with the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago. Jacob’s approach to community-based research and applied anthropology has emerged through two decades of work with groups that include the Zuni Tribe, U.S. Gulf Coast fisherman, and Trinidadian oilfield workers. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona.
Dayna-Joy Chin is a child of the Diaspora via Jamaica and the Bronx. She is an educator, coach, facilitator, and consultant based in New York City. Dayna-Joy graduated Brown University with a BA in Africana Studies and BA Human Development in Education, and holds a Masters in Teaching in Social Studies Education from Georgia State University. She has experience with various aspects of educational programming and management, and has created and facilitated curriculum to push teacher identity development and culturally responsive teaching practices. At the core of Dayna-Joy’s practice is centering student voice, leading her to frequently incorporate student interviewing into her coaching and teaching practices. Dayna-Joy currently works as an educational consultant and Curriculum/Evaluation Coordinator with the Brotherhood-Sister Sol in Harlem, NY. She also works on a number of artistic projects that bring together her passions for photography, crafting, preserving our planet, and affirming people of color.
Robyn is a fun-loving, challenge-seeking professional who strives for excellence in her profession, while enjoying the diversity of people, places, and things that makes the built environment so fascinating and unique. Joining the City of West Hollywood, CA in April 2016 as their first sustainability planner, she currently manages a diverse set of citywide sustainability projects, including electrical vehicle charging readiness, clean energy initiatives, water efficiency and conservation, green government operations, and green building. Robyn is in love with lifelong learning, continuous self-improvement, yoga/meditation, travel, and music.
Marisela has worked on immigrant rights issues and campaigns since the age of 15 when her mother was deported due to attorney misrepresentation. Currently, she is the Director of Immigrant Rights and Community empowerment at Dolores Street Community Services, where she oversees three immigrant rights coalitions doing direct services, emergency response, and advocacy. In 2017, she led the advocacy efforts to re-launched the San Francisco Rapid Response Network Marisela graduated as a Gates Millenium Scholar with a B.A in International Studies at the University of San Francisco in 2014 and has worked on immigrant rights campaigns at the local, state, and national level.
CLYDE W. FORD
Clyde’s from Bellingham, Washington. He’s an award-winning author of books from body-mind healing to the environment. An avid outdoorsman he’s equally at home backpacking in the Cascades as cruising the Inside Passage.
Yaniris Gomez serves as the Senior Clinical Specialist for Newark Community Solutions, a court-based intervention program aimed at providing alternative sentencing for low level offenses. She is a licensed counselor who specializes in forensic mental health counseling. Along with a passionate team, she provides social services and clinical interventions to people who are mandated to treatment and community service. She believes wholeheartedly in procedural justice and the concept of community courts. Throughout her career, she has worked with other underserved populations, such as survivors of sex trafficking and the chronically homeless. She lives in New Jersey with her cat Circe where she likes to hike and explore the great outdoors.
Rich Holschuh is deeply invested in Wantastegok – known to most today as Brattleboro in southern Vermont – the place where he has set roots. He serves on the Vermont Commission for Native American Affairs and as a public liaison for the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, representing with governmental agencies and other entities. Working with the contemporary Abenaki community, Rich partners with others to further their interests, increase awareness, and rebuild connections. His work as an independent historic and cultural researcher – expressed through writing and photography – draws upon indigenous history, linguistics, geography, and cultural practice to explore and share other ways of seeing and being in relationship with place.
REV. DR. CYNTHIA JACKSON
Rev. Dr. Cynthia D. Jackson established the law firm of Cynthia D. Jackson, Esquire and Associates, and had the distinction of serving as the first Black Female President of the Hudson County Bar Association. Additionally Cynthia has earned a Masters of Divinity Degree In 2004, Cynthia became the first female to be ordained in the history of Mt. Pisgah AME Church in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is also the proud mother of two children and grandmother of one. Rev Jackson currently serves as the President of the Newark District Minister’s Fellowship. Recently she successfully defended her thesis entitled “Bloom where you are planted: Transforming your community one block at a time.”
Liz is a natural builder as well as founder and program director of TERRA Collaborative. Her passion for empowering women and underserved populations in low carbon and place -based building skills drives her work. She travels to Central America, supporting skill building workshops in home improvements and safe building practices and also teaches workshops throughout the US.
Jamila is the Senior Supervising Attorney for Criminal Justice Reform in the New Orleans office of the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she works to reverse the “new Jim Crow” and eliminate the structural racism entrenched in the policing, sentencing, imprisonment and post-conviction practices in Louisiana through litigation, legislation and public education. In 2018, Jamila served on the steering committee for the Unanimous Jury Coalition, and worked to overturn a 138-year-old Jim Crow era law that allowed Louisiana to convict people for crimes without unanimous jury verdicts. Jamila also serves in leadership for Louisianans for Prison Alternatives—a diverse statewide coalition committed to reducing Louisiana’s imprisonment rate, the highest in the world. Jamila is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law and spent a decade working in private law in the Pacific Northwest, before transitioning to public interest in the Deep South. She has a son in college and has a female Old English Bulldog named Tennessee Williams.
Lecester Johnson is a respected leader and a seasoned educator. She has served as Chief Executive Officer of Academy of Hope since 2006, an adult public charter school in Washington, DC. Lecester has spent her entire career working alongside adults helping them to achieve their lifelong education and career goals. In 2014, she led Academy of Hope through a major change when the school transitioned from a small community-based organization to an Adult Public Charter School. The school now serves over 500 learners with low literacy a year and has helped thousands of adults to realize their full potential, earn a high school credential and go on to college and living wage employment. She has been a teacher since the ripe old age of 12 when she held her first class with her four siblings to prevent learning loss during their summer break. During her downtime, Lecester enjoys Crossfit, going for long walks, and exploring the world with her wife Kerry-Ann.
Phil has always committed his energy and skills towards trying to leave the planet better off than the world he was brought into. His career has involved many movements and missions, from counseling men in abortion clinics and increasing workers’ rights for a safe workplace to his strengthening local agriculture and building a resilient and diverse food economy. He serves as Executive Director of CISA, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, the longest running ‘buy local’ in the nation. Phil believes that we can only evolve when we listen and learn from those whose experiences and cultures are different from our own. And that requires a little bit of humor and often music!
As the Executive Director of Out in the Open (formerly Green Mountain Crossroads), HB is building the power of rural LGBTQ people throughout the U.S. They are also a spoon carver, oral historian, former farmer, and a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.
Heather McMann loves living and working along the Merrimack River. She is Executive Director of Groundwork Lawrence (GWL), a community development nonprofit organization that is “changing places, changing lives” in Greater Lawrence, MA, working at the intersection of environment, public health and education. Heather has spent 25 years in the nonprofit sector building community and individual assets and she holds a breadth of experience in nonprofit management, with a focus on preparing organizations for growth. Prior to joining GWL, much of Heather’s experience was with youth organizations focused on creating our communities’ next generation of social justice leaders. Heather received her MBA from The Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and her BA from Smith College. Beyond GWL, she is a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Nonprofit Practice and serves on the boards of Groundwork USA, the MA Public Health Association, and the Lawrence Partnership. She lives with her husband and their dog, Bones, along the Merrimack River in Haverhill, MA.
Kerry McNally is currently a senior biologist specialized in aquatic animal health at the New England Aquarium, where she has worked for the past 10 years. Kerry is also a PhD candidate in the Environmental Sciences program at UMass Boston where she combines her work at the aquarium with her research to understand health and disease in endangered sea turtles.
Colleen McVeigh works in the Action Center at the the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL. In the Action Center, Colleen leads her team’s initiative to develop educator capacity in environmental education through the implementation of professional development workshops and instructional coaching. She is a National Board certified teacher with more than 25 years of experience working with youth. Colleen is training as a Master Naturalist with the University of Illinois Extension Service. She has a deep passion for the outdoors and all its wonders. She tries to instill this passion to explore the world and nature into her work with teachers and students. Colleen is an amateur birder and horticulture enthusiast. During her more than two decades in the classroom she developed science and nature units of study on trees, monarchs, birds and local ecosystems in addition to helping to install and maintain gardens in two school yards, and in the local community. Colleen writes, paints and does pottery in her spare time.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Anuja is an occasional poet, a curious walker of this beautiful earth. Anuja works as philanthropic consultant focused on environmental, human rights and social justice issues, including gender equity, criminal justice, environmental health and justice, and food security. She serves as a strategist, thought-partner, bridge-builder, and facilitator for change, and is deeply committed to advancing equity and justice and lifting up women of color. Anuja manages the Race, Gender and Human Rights Fund, which supports efforts at the nexus of woman, mass incarceration and criminal justice reform in California. Her family immigrated to rural Ohio, where she grew up amidst the lovely woods, wildflowers and cornfields of the Midwest. She now calls the Bay Area home, where she loves to hike, garden, share meals, build community and enjoy the Pacific Ocean.
Nikki Miller is the Farm Education Manager at Harlem Grown, running educational programming on the organization’s farm sites in Central and East Harlem. She graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A in Psychology and shortly after entered the realm of education. Day to day, she is teaching about growing and eating healthy foods on Urban Farms in the community.
A’Dorian Murray-Thomas is the Founder and CEO of SHE Wins Inc., a leadership and social action organization serving middle and high school girls in Newark. SHE Wins! was initially created for girls who lost a parent or sibling to homicide. While that remains our core interest, we have expanded to serve girls seeking leadership development or who have in other ways been affected by violence. At only 23 years old, A’Dorian has been recognized as a 2016 President Obama White House Champion of Change and recently made history becoming the youngest woman elected to the Newark Public School Board. A’Dorian is a 2016 graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a baccalaureate degree in Political Science and Educational Studies with a minor in Black Studies.
Andrianna Natsoulas has coordinated with the global food sovereignty movements and has developed policy initiatives at the federal and regional levels to ensure farmers and fishermen can provide local and culturally appropriate food to their communities. She also wrote the book, Food Voices, Stories from the People Who Feed Us, which tells the stories of farmers and fishermen across five countries. In August of 2016, Andrianna joined NOFA-NY as the Executive Director and now lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley.
Colin Novick is the Executive Director of the Greater Worcester Land Trust and serves as Deacon at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Paul in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has focused on conserving wildlife, land, water, and recreation opportunities in the urban context and connecting urban and rural communities through conservation for over two decades. He likes to backpack, hike, and camp. He is married and the father of three daughters
Atieno is originally from Kenya and lives in New Mexico. She is a graduate of Women in Wild land fire and is a part of an all female crew. She has worked as a Wilderness Ranger as well as a field guide in Wilderness Therapy. When she’s not in the backcountry, she enjoys cheeseburgers and maps. One of her biggest aspirations is to open her own Wilderness therapy program for at risk minorities.
Gary Petersen has worked in local and regional government serves for over 35 years. Areas of expertise include Public Works, Aviation, emergency Services and Administration. Gary has also held a parallel career working as an organizational development consultant in the public and nonprofit sectors. Gary is currently the General Manager for Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency and is paying close attention to natural resources governance structures.
Born in New York City but having lived in nine different states, Geoffrey has now lived more than half of his life in Vermont. He fell in love with Vermont while attending Middlebury College. As an adult, he has grown to deeply appreciate the uniqueness and complexities – including the importance of community – of this brave little state. His professional path as a civil servant began with AmeriCorps*VISTA. For the past fourteen years since, he has strived to make government work for people – as a caseworker in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ office and in in his current position as the General & Emergency Assistance (GA)
Program Director for the Economic Services Division of the Vermont Department for Children and Families. His current work as the GA Program Director has involved examining, reimagining, and restructuring Vermont’s program of last resort, a fifty-year-old program charged with assisting Vermonters in crisis. He has relished this opportunity to engage in systems thinking and shift mental models that hold the current system and its challenges in place.
After the refugee resettlement program Alina helped start in Oakland, California was discontinued, she moved to Darfur, Sudan, in 2006, to take a job with the IRC. This began a decade of working alongside women and girls to address gender-based violence in emergencies, from Syria to DR Congo to Bangladesh and beyond. Shifting focus to violence prevention, she worked with the UN in Italy for several years, before moving back to the US to more deeply engage as an activist, and join the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University. She undertakes feminist, participatory action reseasrch around gender, power, and humanitarian aid, in Lebanon and Uganda. Alina holds degrees in anthropology and public health, and a deep interest in what it means to belong, to be kind, and to be accountable. She teaches at Columbia and GW, and trained as a meditation instructor with the Interdependence Project in NYC.
Alessandra Robinson is an advocate: personally, professionally, and spiritually. She hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is reflected in her warm demeanor, occasional accent, and life-long dedication to dismantling the structures that made it, at times, quite difficult to be a queer, woman of color growing up in the Midwest. She is a proud alumni of Wellesley College and currently works as a Victim Advocate & Prevention Specialist at MIT in the Violence Prevention & Response office. Her work is centered on supporting survivors of interpersonal violence as well as prevention. She currently lives in Allston, MA and fills her days with dogs, laughter, hot sauce, crossword puzzles and doing her best to live and reflect her own values.
Mark H. Robinson serves as Executive Director of The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, Inc. A graduate of Williams College and the University of Rhode Island, Robinson previously worked in regional government on coastal management and water quality issues. He currently serves as the Governor’s appointee to the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission. The US Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Robinson’s work with a lifetime achievement award in 2009. Mark lives in Cotuit and has two sons. He is an avid sailor and experienced nature guide. “I fell in love with the Cape as a summer kid,” he says. “I am lucky to have found a way as an adult to exercise my passion to preserve this place.”
John Roe has spent his career in land conservation in New England, nearly all of it in Vermont. He was the Executive Director of the Nantucket Land Council in the 1980’s, and has held senior management positions The Nature Conservancy of Vermont and Vermont Land Trust; currently he is VP for Stewardship and Strategic Initiatives at the Upper Valley Land Trust. John is a forest ecologist with an interest in improving the management of northern hardwood forests to support high quality habitat. This focus includes the protection of landscapes of interconnected forested blocks so that species can adjust in the face of climate change and increased human development. He currently is finishing the first draft of a book for landowners about northern hardwood forest ecology and management. John lives in Sharon Vermont with his family and cares for lots of animals, including his daughter’s two cows when she is at college.
Angela (they/them/theirs) is a nonbinary educator, facilitator, evaluator and writer who works with organizations at the intersection of land and food to build & evaluate equity frameworks in organizational structures. Angela teaches courses at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Franklin County House of Corrections in food justice and beekeeping. Angela runs a small co-operative apiary project called “Yard Birds Bees” and has developed collaborative organizing tools and trainings based on honeybee systems. Their forthcoming book of beekeeping tools, collaborative organizing tools from the hive and stories from within the beekeeping world is due out in Fall 2019 via the University of Massachusetts Library Open Education Initiative.
Erika is the Development and Volunteer Coordinator at Harlem Grown, assisting in fundraising and corporate partnerships. She received her B.A in International Relations from Boston University and recently completed her M.A in Global Environmental Studies in Tokyo, Japan. Through her role she is able to combine her passion for environmental affairs with her educational background in corporate social responsibility, and is excited to help companies give back to the Harlem community.
Nathan is a global experiential educator with a passion for (low carbon) travel and (high impact) transformative education. He is the Co-founder and Director of the Global Climate Corps, dedicated to training and empowering the next generation of global climate leaders. Nathan lives in Massachusetts but grew up a citizen of the world and is working to protect the only inhabitable planet we have.
Shawn Shafner is an artist, educator and activist based out of Brooklyn, NY. Founder of The People’s Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org), he has created award-winning theater, film, podcasts and educational events catalyzing conversation about sustainable sanitation from the floor of the United Nations to the mountains of Rwanda. Shawn is also an accomplished theatre artist, educator, and mindfulness coach. He is devoted to manifesting a world of creativity, community and joy.
Sarah finds joy in supporting burgeoning writers discover and express their voices through crafting language and story. She is a professor at Stevenson University where she teaches creative writing and education courses. She is passionate about the inclusion of diverse voices in her classes. This summer she will be teaching creative writing to boys in Baltimore City ages 7th
through 12th grades. She has trained the staff at the Baltimore-based Holistic Life Foundation how to integrate literacy into their mindfulness curricula and is working on expanding this program to other organizations. Presently, her own writing explores race, relationships, and history, grounded in her experiences in Baltimore.
Cited by Bill McKibben as “one of the key figures in the religious environmental surge,” Rev. Fred Small is Minister for Climate Justice at Arlington Street Church, Boston. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Faith Science Alliance for Climate Leadership. A Unitarian Universalist parish minister for nearly two decades, Fred is also a singer-songwriter and environmental lawyer. In 2015 he left parish ministry to devote his energies to climate advocacy.
Beth K. Stewart works to protect water resources. She has spent the last 24 years as Executive Director of Cahaba River Society (CRS) in Birmingham, AL. The Cahaba is a national biodiversity treasure and major drinking water source. A core area for Beth is to advocate for water equity and increase the racial and income diversity of leadership and activism for water. CRS aims to fully serve the demographics of the River’s “peopleshed” through opportunities for youth of color in environmental education, outdoor recreation, volunteerism and leadership (www.bit.ly/Rivermusic). Beth is a board member of the national organization River Network, Inc., where she co-led a learning journey to develop equity, diversity and inclusion commitments, principles, and tools. She previously was founding ED of Kentucky Waterways Alliance and worked in city planning in New Orleans, Kentucky and the SF Bay Area. Beth has a Master’s in Landscape Architecture for urban and environmental planning from UC Berkeley. She has been named a River Hero by the Alabama Rivers Alliance and a National River Hero by River Network / Tom’s of Maine. Her personal journey has been blessed by raising a black trans daughter, who has generously shared with Beth her wisdom and has lovingly challenged her around issues of race, LGBTQIA, and social justice.
C. SADE TURNIPSEED
Dr. C. Sade Turnipseed is the 2017 Diversity Educator of the Year for the state of Mississippi. A public historian/educator and community outreach specialist Turnipseed serves as the executive director of Khafre, Inc., where she leads the national and international campaign to erect a monument and memorial garden to Cotton Pickers and Sharecroppers of the American South. Turnipseed is an assistant professor of history at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU); and is the former director of education and outreach for the B.B. King Museum. Turnipseed is the long-time host and producer of the number one-rated-local-talk show in the Mississippi Delta, Delta Renaissance. She also produces Voices from the Valley–a MVSU Social Sciences department radio program, featuring oral histories of “grandmam’nem”; (grandmother and them). In 2003, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Culture appointed Turnipseed to a six-year tenure as the official representative of the Pan African Film Festival, Ouagadougou, (FESPACO). She is also the recipient of a U.S. Congressional Honor for “commitment to preserving the rich history and heritage of Mississippi.” She presents lectures and workshops on the global economic impact of “cotton”; and Sharecroppers’ cultural legacy internationally. She also ran an impressive 2013 mayoral campaign in Indianola, MS. Turnipseed holds a PhD in Public History, from MTSU; an MBA and MS in Telecommunications Management/Marketing from Golden Gate University, in San Francisco, CA
Teresa’s 20-year career lives at the nexus of social change and social innovation. She is the co-founder of the Museum of the Courageous, a start-up enterprise that tells the stories of courageous individuals who stand up to hate in America, and catalyzes others to do the same. Additionally, Teresa served in several roles at Echoing Green—a social innovation fund that acts as a catalyst for social impact. Currently, she serves as Special Adviser to Echoing Green’s Executive Leadership and Board as the Vice President of Development. Teresa also served in the Bloomberg Administration as an Economic Development strategist at the New York City Economic Development Corporation and was a Director for the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Teresa graduated from Vassar College and NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School for Public Service. She also holds a certificate in management from Columbia Business School’s Institute for Nonprofit Management.
Anita is a volunteer advocate for victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence at Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan. Previously, she has supported survivors during her Peace Corps service in Paraguay, as well as through her work in the Rikers Island jail system while employed with Correctional Health Services as an advocate for incarcerated survivors of sexual violence. She is currently in a dual masters program at New York University in social work and public health. In addition to traveling, she enjoys creating art, especially using watercolors and ink and mixed media. Anita is currently living in Jersey City, NJ, with her Paraguayan dog, Laika.
Kyaira Ware serves as the Community Conservation Manager at Potomac Conservancy, where she mobilizes residents to fight for clean water in her community. She graduated from Howard University in 2016 with a BS in biology and has worked with major institutions such as Cornell University, The Nature Conservancy, and The National Park Service. Kyaira considers her voice to be her superpower. She enjoys singing, debating, and anything else that involves fighting for a just world and actively calling out the major systems that oppress us.
Gail Yeo is a member of the senior team at Mass Audubon. She has the privilege of leading the twenty-one community based Sanctuary Directors. These community based leaders, with their teams are delivering community and placed-based education programs including 19 camps serving more than 12,000 kids each summer. The land conservation department is also under her responsibilities which has protected more than 38,000 acres in the organization’s history. Gail is focused on empowering others to take climate action, welcoming diversity, inclusion and equity into every aspect of the work of Mass Audubon with the goal of creating leadership at every level and clearing the pathway for emerging conservation leadership.
“I feel rooted, I feel thoughtful, I feel quiet inside, I feel rejuvenated. This land has filled me up. I met incredible people, considered the “long work” of my life, sunk my teeth into slowness, and enjoyed the natural evolution of each day.”
“I can’t believe it’s been about a year and a half since I attended the Better Selves fellowship. I still haven’t been able to fully put into words how grateful I am for such a powerful experience. But thank you, thank you for a life changing experience. I still carry the impact of those 5 days at the farm with me, and I want you to know what a positive imprint it has made on my life.”
“I left with more clarity for the next year as well as a new found interest in the intersectionality of race, environment and food”
2017 Fellow, Operations Manager at the Center for Equity and Inclusion
“I walk away with focusing on the journey and the work. Refuge is good for all people. Place matters. ”
2017 Fellow, CHI Elevate Program Manager for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center
“The expanse of the land, the distance between the yurt village and the barn/office, the nooks around the property and stone slabs with quotes and paintings on them…all of these contributed to a sense of spaciousness and gentle magic. I didn’t feel pressed for time once all week, which is kind of miraculous considering how I feel most of the time at home! I got to remember how it feels to have time. ”
2017 Fellow, Fellow with EDGE Funders Alliance
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