National Wildlife Federation Honors Leaders in Environmental Justice

RESTON, Va. — The National Wildlife Federation announced the recipients of its 2022 Environmental Justice 21st-Century Awards, which recognize the people and programs at the National Wildlife Federation that have gone above and beyond to advance environmental justice in the conservation movement. The awards were given out during the organization’s annual meeting and 86th anniversary celebration, which was held for the third time as a virtual event this year.

“These awards present an opportunity to pause and recognize the amazing people and programs working to uplift environmental justice while centering the experiences and stories of Black, Latine, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, and people of color,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation. “The Federation family is fortunate to have tireless leaders like these advocating, for people, wildlife, and justice and we hope their work inspires future leaders to follow in their footsteps.”

The awards and recipients include:

  • The Environmental Justice 21st-Century Outstanding Board Member Award, awarded to Koa Kaulukukui-Barbee, who has brought forth an intercultural awareness and understanding that is critical in order to protect our environment and ensure no one gets left behind. As an Indigenous woman and person of color, Kaulukukui-Barbee has been an incredible asset to the Federation and she brings forth her lived experiences and cultural identity as the co-chair for the board subcommittee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.
  • The Environmental Justice 21st-Century Outstanding Board Member Award, was also awarded to Miguel Ordeñana, for his efforts to connect community members with science and nature through equitable and inclusive practices. Ordeñana utilizes his lived experiences to transform what it means to be a wildlife biologist in a white-dominated sector by always taking it a step further and paving the way for other scientists of color. He’s proven his commitment time and time again through his contributions to National Wildlife Federation’s Creating Safe Spaces initiative and throughout his leadership as the co-chair for the board subcommittee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.
  • The Environmental Justice 21st-Century “Outstanding Program Award,” which was awarded to Tribal Partnerships Program. Under the leadership of Garrit Voggesser, the Tribal Partnerships Program has worked to support efforts to re-establish treaty rights, advance conservation priorities, rectify environmental and economic injustices, and address inequities and resource needs. From reintroducing bison populations and conservation management practices that build upon traditional ecological knowledge to enhancing water-related policies that address disparities among Indigenous communities, the Tribal Partnerships program has helped support meaningful collaboration and partnerships with Indigenous Peoples.
  • The Environmental Justice 21st-Century “For The People Award,” awarded to Oday Salim, who has been a critical asset to the Federation’s Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization Program by providing important legal support with an environmental justice lens since day one. In addition to his clinic conducting a thoughtful analysis on federal, state, and local legislative and policy opportunities to create safer spaces in the outdoors, Salim and his team have also played a vital role in the development and institutionalization of our Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
  • The Environmental Justice 21st-Century “For The People Award,” was also awarded to Keith Ward. As the Director of Technology Solutions and Information Technology, Ward and his team set the entire Federation up for success at the onset of the pandemic by instituting platforms and protocols that allowed staff to shift to remote work in a thoughtful and human-centered way. Keith’s unique ability to approach his work with compassion and integrity, including serving as the co-lead for the Black Employee Resource Group, has been a vital asset to advancing equity and justice throughout the entire Federation. 


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