Category Archives: CONFERENCES

Beth Collier

Beth Collier is the founder and director of Wild in the City, an organization supporting the well-being of people of color through connection with nature, offering experiences in woodland living skills, natural history, hiking and ecotherapy. Collier also is a Nature Allied Psychotherapist and ethnographer, teaching woodland living skills and natural history. As a therapist, she works exclusively in natural settings and has developed Nature Allied Psychotherapy as a modality for ongoing client work in allegiance with nature. As well as exploring your human social relationships, Nature Allied Psychotherapy creates the opportunity to explore your relationship with the natural world. Collier specializes in working with relational trauma in our connections with people and with nature. As a naturalist, her work aims to reignite the oral tradition for learning about nature within families and challenges racism within the environmental sector.

Beth Collier is the founder and director of Wild in the City, an organization supporting the well-being of people of color through connection with nature, offering experiences in woodland living skills, natural history, hiking and ecotherapy.

Collier also is a Nature Allied Psychotherapist and ethnographer, teaching woodland living skills and natural history. As a therapist, she works exclusively in natural settings and has developed Nature Allied Psychotherapy as a modality for ongoing client work in allegiance with nature. As well as exploring your human social relationships, Nature Allied Psychotherapy creates the opportunity to explore your relationship with the natural world.

Collier specializes in working with relational trauma in our connections with people and with nature. As a naturalist, her work aims to reignite the oral tradition for learning about nature within families and challenges racism within the environmental sector.

Dr Candice Duncan

Dr. Candice Duncan is a lecturer in the Environmental Science and Technology Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned her PhD from the University of Arizona’s Soil, Water and Environmental Science program (now known as the Department of Environmental Science).  She earned an MS in Earth Science from North Carolina Central University, where she studied in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences. She is an environmental scientist through knowledge and experience gained as an analytical chemist, soil scientist and hydrologist. Her work focuses on the transport and characterization of organic contaminants in the vadose zone (the Earth's terrestrial subsurface that extends from the surface to the regional groundwater table). Dr. Duncan dabbles in archeology through the New York African Burial Ground project with Howard University, studying trace metals in grave soils using non-invasive analytical technology combining soil science and chemistry.  This work postulates the diet of interred free and enslaved Africans of the New Amsterdam Colony located in what is now Lower Manhattan.  She has advised undergraduate students majoring in environmental science and technology. She has mentored undergraduate and graduate students in research related from legacy phosphorus in Chesapeake Bay soils to contaminant leachate from recycled asphalt pavement in highway construction. She is a community engagement promoter, science advocate, citizen scientist, STEM educator, and mentor. 

Dr. Candice Duncan is a lecturer in the Environmental Science and Technology Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned her PhD from the University of Arizona’s Soil, Water and Environmental Science program (now known as the Department of Environmental Science). She earned an MS in Earth Science from North Carolina Central University, where she studied in the Department of Environmental, Earth and Geospatial Sciences.

She is an environmental scientist through knowledge and experience gained as an analytical chemist, soil scientist and hydrologist. Her work focuses on the transport and characterization of organic contaminants in the vadose zone (the Earth's terrestrial subsurface that extends from the surface to the regional groundwater table). Dr. Duncan dabbles in archeology through the New York African Burial Ground project with Howard University, studying trace metals in grave soils using non-invasive analytical technology combining soil science and chemistry.  This work postulates the diet of interred free and enslaved Africans of the New Amsterdam Colony located in what is now Lower Manhattan.

She has advised undergraduate students majoring in environmental science and technology. She has mentored undergraduate and graduate students in research related from legacy phosphorus in Chesapeake Bay soils to contaminant leachate from recycled asphalt pavement in highway construction. She is a community engagement promoter, science advocate, citizen scientist, STEM educator, and mentor. 

Dr Thomas R Easley

Dr. Thomas R. Easley (Keynote Speaker) is the Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion at the Yale School of the Environment. He has spent most of his career as a diversity professional and a forester. As a diversity professional, he has focused on the recruitment, retention and diverse talent in natural resource disciplines. As a forester, he has worked with landowners and citizens on land management and stewardship. Dr. Easley earned his undergraduate degree in Forest Science from Alabama A&M University, his master’s degree in Forest Genetics from Iowa State University, and his doctorate in Adult Education from NC State University. Dr. Easley served as the Diversity Director of the College of Natural Resources at NC State University where he taught courses, advised students, and supported faculty and staff on programming ensuring they are inclusive to all populations. Dr. Easley combines his professions along with his passions of art and ministry or music? to lead the diversity efforts in the school.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Dr. Thomas R. Easley is the Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion at the Yale School of the Environment. He has spent most of his career as a diversity professional and a forester. As a diversity professional, he has focused on the recruitment, retention and diverse talent in natural resource disciplines.

As a forester, he has worked with landowners and citizens on land management and stewardship. Dr. Easley earned his undergraduate degree in Forest Science from Alabama A&M University, his master’s degree in Forest Genetics from Iowa State University, and his doctorate in Adult Education from NC State University. Dr. Easley served as the Diversity Director of the College of Natural Resources at NC State University where he taught courses, advised students, and supported faculty and staff on programming ensuring they are inclusive to all populations.

Dr. Easley combines his professions along with his passions of art and ministry or music to lead the diversity efforts in the school.

Monica Esparza

Monica Esparza is an educator, founder of AfroCity, and trustee of the Renewal of Life Land Trust. Her background includes being one of the community trailblazers who helped preserve the historic Hickory Hill School and led the annual Trail Walk to commemorate Hickory Hill’s environmental heritage in conjunction with National Trail Day for many years. Retired from Richmond Public Schools as a Career and Technical Education Instructor, Esparza also has more than 18 years of service with the State of Virginia, beginning at the Supreme Court of Virginia and transitioning to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, where she worked as a regional assistant, assisting park managers with operations, before joining the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Esparza continues a long commitment to green advocacy and environmental justice through environmental education and workforce projects. Esparza has experience with business and legal frameworks centered on environmental regulation, protection and justice, and is a graduate of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute.

Monica Esparza is an educator, founder of AfroCity, and trustee of the Renewal of Life Land Trust. Her background includes being one of the community trailblazers who helped preserve the historic Hickory Hill School and led the annual Trail Walk to commemorate Hickory Hill’s environmental heritage in conjunction with National Trail Day for many years.

Retired from Richmond Public Schools as a Career and Technical Education Instructor, Esparza also has more than 18 years of service with the State of Virginia, beginning at the Supreme Court of Virginia and transitioning to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, where she worked as a regional assistant, assisting park managers with operations, before joining the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Esparza continues a long commitment to green advocacy and environmental justice through environmental education and workforce projects.

Esparza has experience with business and legal frameworks centered on environmental regulation, protection and justice, and is a graduate of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute.

Derrick Evans

Derrick Evans (Keynote Speaker) is an environmental trailblazer, community builder, and indefatigable environmental superhero who has spoken around the world. Evans stars in a dynamic Environmental Film Festival documentary, Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek, about the incredible years-long fight to save his historic Turkey Creek community from erasure. He is a civil rights historian and a sixth-generation native of coastal Mississippi’s Turkey Creek, founded by emancipated African Americans, where he now lives.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Derrick Evans is an environmental trailblazer, community builder, and indefatigable environmental superhero who has spoken around the world.

Evans stars in a dynamic Environmental Film Festival documentary, Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek, about the incredible years-long fight to save his historic Turkey Creek community from erasure.

He is a civil rights historian and a sixth-generation native of coastal Mississippi’s Turkey Creek, founded by emancipated African Americans, where he now lives.

Dr Nia Imani Fields

Nia Imani Fields, Ed.D. is the Maryland 4-H Program Leader and Assistant Director of Maryland Extension. Dr. Fields has a doctorate in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from Morgan State University and has a long career in youth and community engagement. Throughout her educational and professional career, her focus has been to work towards the positive development of children, youth, families and communities.  As the Maryland 4-H Program Leader, Dr. Fields provides leadership and direction for 4-H Youth Development programs, faculty and staff. In this role, she also serves on the University of Maryland Extension (UME) administrative team as the Assistant Director of UME. Dr. Fields is passionate about 4-H youth development and our ability to bridge networks and opportunities for all young people. Her true purpose in life is to expose as many young people as possible to new and exciting experiences—experiences that encourage youth to dream BIG! This often allows youth to grow empathy and see the world as bigger than just themselves.

Nia Imani Fields, Ed.D. is the Maryland 4-H Program Leader and Assistant Director of Maryland Extension. Dr. Fields has a doctorate in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from Morgan State University and has a long career in youth and community engagement.

Throughout her educational and professional career, her focus has been to work towards the positive development of children, youth, families and communities.  As the Maryland 4-H Program Leader, Dr. Fields provides leadership and direction for 4-H Youth Development programs, faculty and staff. In this role, she also serves on the University of Maryland Extension (UME) administrative team as the Assistant Director of UME.

Dr. Fields is passionate about 4-H youth development and our ability to bridge networks and opportunities for all young people. Her true purpose in life is to expose as many young people as possible to new and exciting experiences—experiences that encourage youth to dream BIG! This often allows youth to grow empathy and see the world as bigger than just themselves.

Mavis Gragg

Mavis Gragg is a seasoned attorney and conservation professional with nearly two decades of experience in real estate, conflict resolution, estate planning, and probate. Gragg serves as the Director of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Project at the American Forest Foundation in Washington, D.C. Prior to this role, she founded Gragg Law Firm, PLLC, in which she assisted her clients in estate planning, estate administration, and heirs property matters. Gragg serves on the Board of Directors for Triangle Land Conservancy and is a member of the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority. A native of Black Mountain, North Carolina, Gragg is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A., Industrial Relations) and Pepperdine University School of Law (Juris Doctor and Master of Dispute Resolution).

Mavis Gragg is a seasoned attorney and conservation professional with nearly two decades of experience in real estate, conflict resolution, estate planning, and probate.

Gragg serves as the Director of the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Project at the American Forest Foundation in Washington, D.C. Prior to this role, she founded Gragg Law Firm, PLLC, in which she assisted her clients in estate planning, estate administration, and heirs property matters. Gragg serves on the Board of Directors for Triangle Land Conservancy and is a member of the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority.

A native of Black Mountain, North Carolina, Gragg is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A., Industrial Relations) and Pepperdine University School of Law (Juris Doctor and Master of Dispute Resolution).

Jaren Hill Lockridge

Jaren Hill Lockridge is the Director for The Well at Oxun Run, a new urban farm and community wellness space in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8. The one-acre site will be home to seasonal crop production, a pick-your-own flower garden, a farm stand, an orchard with chickens, a greenhouse, herb and pollinator gardens, and a large youth garden with outdoor classroom. The Well at Oxun Run is the result of a partnership with D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, The Green Scheme, The Friends of Oxon Run, and community members living near Oxon Run Park. Hill’s years of leadership in Ward 8 will play a key role in her capacity to connect her community with new opportunities. Hill began her career in the Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and most recently worked to reduce and prevent violence in the District of Columbia’s Office of Neighborhood Safety & Engagement. Previous to assuming that role, she was appointed as the Director of Community Relations in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity. She has also worked with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation as an Event & Support Service Specialist. Originally from Memphis, TN, Lockridge now lives in D.C. and holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University.

Jaren Hill Lockridge is the Director for The Well at Oxon Run, a new urban farm and community wellness space in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8. The one-acre site will be home to seasonal crop production, a pick-your-own flower garden, a farm stand, an orchard with chickens, a greenhouse, herb and pollinator gardens, and a large youth garden with outdoor classroom.

The Well at Oxon Run is the result of a partnership with D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, The Green Scheme, The Friends of Oxon Run, and community members living near Oxon Run Park. Hill’s years of leadership in Ward 8 will play a key role in her capacity to connect her community with new opportunities. Hill began her career in the Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and most recently worked to reduce and prevent violence in the District of Columbia’s Office of Neighborhood Safety & Engagement. Previous to assuming that role, she was appointed as the Director of Community Relations in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity. She has also worked with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation as an Event & Support Service Specialist.

Originally from Memphis, TN, Lockridge now lives in D.C. and holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University.

Lydia Curtis

Lydia Curtis was born in Queens NY, where attended the prestigious Bernice Johnson School of Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Bronx HS of Science and NYU before moving to Washington, DC to complete her Master’s degree at Howard University. She is a lifelong learner and an avid traveler who has visited nine African countries as well as Cuba, and places in the Caribbean. Lydia joined the Kankouran West African Dance Company in 2014. She founded Sadiki Educational Safari, Inc to share with teenagers her love of Africa. In 2019, Lydia had the privilege of joining Monica Jahan Bose’s Wrapture project, creating huge saris to wrap on storefronts in SE Washington to bring attention to climate change and its impact on marginalized communities. She is married and has one adult daughter.

Lydia Curtis was born in Queens NY, where attended the prestigious Bernice Johnson School of Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Bronx HS of Science and NYU before moving to Washington, DC to complete her Master’s degree at Howard University.

She is a lifelong learner and an avid traveler who has visited nine African countries as well as Cuba, and places in the Caribbean. Lydia joined the Kankouran West African Dance Company in 2014. She founded Sadiki Educational Safari, Inc to share with teenagers her love of Africa.

In 2019, Lydia had the privilege of joining Monica Jahan Bose’s Wrapture project, creating huge saris to wrap on storefronts in SE Washington to bring attention to climate change and its impact on marginalized communities.

She is married and has one adult daughter.

Dr Ysaÿe M Barnwell

Dr. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, a native New Yorker now living in Washington, DC is a musical, human rights, and international treasure. Dr. Barnwell is the songwriter of Breaths, and appears as a vocalist and/or instrumentalist on more than 30 recordings with Sweet Honey In The Rock, an African American acapella singing group whose music ranges from “African to blues to gospel and jazz. Throughout their sterling career, Sweet Honey has used their art form and their voices to defend civil rights, social justice, equality and freedom for all.”

Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell, a native New Yorker now living in Washington, DC is a musical, human rights, and international treasure. Dr. Barnwell is the songwriter of Breaths, and appears as a vocalist and/or instrumentalist on more than 30 recordings with Sweet Honey In The Rock, an African American acapella singing group whose music ranges from “African to blues to gospel and jazz. Throughout their sterling career, Sweet Honey has used their art form and their voices to defend civil rights, social justice, equality and freedom for all.”

Dr. Barnwell has, for the past 30+ years, spent much of her time off stage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition” has during the past 28 years, been conducted on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, a model of pedagogy for educators, and cultural activists and historians. After 34 years, she retired from Sweet Honey In The Rock.

Dr. Barnwell has been a commissioned composer on numerous choral, film, video, dance and theatrical projects including Sesame Street, Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh, David Rousseve’s Reality Dance Company, The New Spirituals Project, GALA Festival Choruses. 2001 saw the premiere of the work Suite Death, a setting of four poems by Langston Hughes for baritone, choir and orchestra, commissioned by the Plymouth Music Series in Minneapolis, MN.

Dr. Barnwell earned her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Speech Pathology (SUNY, Geneseo) Doctor of Philosophy in Speech Pathology (University of Pittsburgh), and the Master of Science in Public Health (Howard University). In 1998, Dr. Barnwell was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by her alma mater, SUNY Geneseo. She received the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL (2009) and the Virginia Theological Seminary (2011); and in 2012, all members of Sweet Honey In the Rock, were awarded the Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from Chicago Theological Seminary (2012).

She is producer of Sweet Honey’s 25th anniversary recording, ...TWENTY-FIVE..., and Endings and Beginnings: Sweet Honey In The Rock Community Chorus. Her workshop Building a Vocal Community® has been produced as a boxed instructional set: Singing in the African American Tradition. Her first children’s book, No Mirrors In My Nana’s House, illustrated by Synthia Saint James and published by Harcourt was released in 1998.