New Fellowship at Agnes Scott College Honors Influential Conservationist Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

ATLANTA — The National Wildlife Federation and Agnes Scott College are honored to announce the Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship — a paid opportunity for a student or recent graduate of Agnes Scott to spend a year working with the National Wildlife Federation’s Board of Directors. The National Wildlife Federation has chosen Agnes Scott College to be the first host of the Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship due to the college’s mission of preparing young women leaders to take on the systemic challenges, including environmental injustice.  

“Working with the National Wildlife Federation to select an Agnes Scott College student for the new fellowship is a great honor for us. This fellowship aligns with the college’s mission, including our commitments to be climate neutral by 2037 and to incorporate environmental justice into all of our sustainability work,” said Susan Kidd, Executive Director of Agnes Scott’s Center for Sustainability. “This is a meaningful opportunity for employment that will no doubt lead to a long career in the environmental field. Dianne Dillon-Ridgley has already been an inspiration for me and many of our students, so we are grateful to elevate that tradition with her.”

For the last four decades, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley has been a powerhouse of the conservation movement and a lifelong advocate for racial equity and women’s rights. She has been appointed by three US Presidents across three Administrations and has served on nearly two nearly two dozen international delegations. Dillon-Ridgley has served on numerous non-profit and corporate boards, including nine years on the board of the National Wildlife Federation, where she was instrumental in focusing and guiding the Federation on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Dillon-Ridgley got her start in the environmental field as an intern at the Environmental Protection Agency. Dianne Dillon-Ridgley is a long-time resident of Iowa City.

“I am thrilled and proud that the National Wildlife Federation has stepped up to the demands of this moment and humbled by this fellowship in my name. I have always been inspired by the words of Maya Angelou that ‘one isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency,’” said Dillon-Ridgley. “Protecting wildlife, expanding conservation leadership and meeting the demands we face with climate change cannot be solved with a single fellowship, but the courage and commitment demonstrated by the Federation will nurture future conservation leaders and change the future for good.”

“The National Wildlife Federation and the conservation movement have historically failed to hire leaders of color, including at the board level. Ensuring Board and staff leadership truly represent the full diversity of America—especially among Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color—is the only way for the National Wildlife Federation to build a conservation movement powerful enough to overcome the immense environmental challenges we face,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This new fellowship, named in honor of one of the greatest environmental trailblazers of our era, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, will provide a critical leadership opportunity for a young woman of color to work closely with our Board of Directors and will help institutionalize our commitment to become a more inclusive and just organization.”

The Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship, part of the National Wildlife Federation’s fellowship program, was created to honor Dillon-Ridgley’s conservation legacy. The fellow will have the opportunity to work alongside some of the best creative and executive leaders that conservation organizations have to offer. 

More details about the Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship:

  • The Fellow will receive a full-time salary, including all core benefits.
  • The Fellowship will last one year from June 2021 to June 2022.
  • The Fellow will be embedded with the Federation’s Office of General Counsel, working closely with the General Counsel and Governance personnel to provide an understanding of how to manage and staff a national board of directors. In addition, the Fellow will have opportunities to engage with Federation programs consistent with their interests.
  • The Fellow will be provided access and opportunity to engage with other Board of Directors to learn about best practices.
  • The Fellow will be provided with a National Wildlife Federation Board mentor to further career development.

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