2020 Women in Conservation Leadership Summit to Convene Online, Focus on Racial Equity, Justice

RESTON, Va. — The 2020 Women in Conservation Leadership Summit, which will be held virtually from October 13-15, will focus on racial equity and justice, centering its trainings and sessions on understanding structural racism and its centrality in the conservation movement. The summit, hosted by the National Wildlife Federation, will spotlight the need to center, support and resource Black, Indigenous and People of Color, while also fostering allyship education for white women and identifying ways all women can lift each other up.

“For too long, the conservation and feminist movements — including events like the Women in Conservation Leadership Summit — have been distinctly white. We cannot correct these challenges through one single event, but we can center women of color and lay important groundwork through building racial equity competencies to start to address this problem,” said Hilary Falk, chief program officer at the National Wildlife Federation. “Through our 2020 virtual summit, we aim to provide a space where all women can come together — even in these challenging times — to share their unique experiences and points of view. By lifting each other up and honoring everyone’s voices, we will learn how to better support conservation leaders across the country.”

“With over 500 women registered, it is our pleasure to see women from all backgrounds responding to the Women in Conservation Leadership Summit in such an enthusiastic and positive way,” said Whitney Tome, who serves as the co-chair for the Women in Conservation Leadership advisory council. “We welcome and applaud this rapid growth in our network of women, who join every summit with the determination to step into their power and learn how to better lead and serve their communities. By centering this year’s program on understanding the role that systemic racism plays in conservation, we will take a step toward an actual equitable and inclusive conservation movement, with room for a diversity of voices and experiences.”

“There's nothing like greeting each other with warm welcomes in person. And at the same time, the technology the world has in 2020 exists for a reason: to bring us together and keep us connected no matter what the world throws at us. Especially for participants with differing abilities, home or family obligations, and those who aren't typically able to travel for meetings, this year's pivot to a virtual summit allows what was already a progressive initiative to become even more inclusive,” said Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, a large carnivore ecologist and keynote speaker at the summit. “I am honored to be one of this year's keynote speakers and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible virtually this October.”

Women in Conservation Leadership was started four years ago by a group of dedicated women, and it has grown to be a dynamic network and community of diverse women who are committed to leading change in conservation. More than 500 people have registered for this year’s summit, but there are still spaces for interested attendees. Learn more about the Women in Conservation Leadership Summit and how to register by visiting wcl.nwf.org. Registration closes on Friday, Sept. 4.

Despite COVID-19 preventing an in-person meeting this year, the summit will utilize innovative ways to learn, connect, and make this a rich and powerful experience.

“At WWF, our commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is a natural extension of our mission to preserve the diversity of life on earth. In much the same way that women play a significant role in the use and conservation of natural resources around the world, we know that empowered women leaders are absolutely essential to achieving increased equity and sense of belonging within our organization,” said Renee Johnson, senior director of diversity, equity & inclusion at the World Wildlife Fund. “Our hope is that our sponsorship of the Women in Conservation Leadership Summit, as well as the number of WWF women who will be participating, reflect the importance we place on creating space for women of all backgrounds to engage with a community of like-minded professionals, focus on their development and identify new insights to bring back to their respective organizations and to their work. As well, recognizing the intersectionality between race and gender by leaning in to productive conversations about race and amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in more intentional ways will serve to elevate us all.”

“Our mission to safeguard nature for the well-being of humanity cannot be effective if we do not include people of every gender and race. Conservation is undoubtedly more impactful when it is inclusive and when all voices have a chance to be at the table. The world faces overlapping crises right now — the climate emergency and widespread racial injustice — both of which will take collaboration and compassion to solve. We are pleased to support the National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to mentor female leaders and make the environmental movement one that values diversity,” said Daniela Raik, executive vice president of field programs for Conservation International.

In this space, the term “women” stands for women, femme/feminine-identifying, genderqueer and non-binary individuals who have historically been excluded from the environmental space.

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