TNB Topics 2018

2018 Taking Nature Black Agenda

On the Frontlines of Environmental Justice

It is an unfortunate and tragic fact that the individuals and families who live and work in the nation's most polluted environments are most commonly people of color, people with little or no political influence, and people with limited financial resources. It's no accident. These are the communities most often targeted for industrial and commercial development that poses environmental hazards.

Attendees learned ways to take immediate action to fight for environmental justice.


Mustafa Santiago Ali
Senior Vice President
Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization
Hip Hop Council

Sacoby Wilson, PhD
Associate Professor
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
University of Maryland-College Park

What Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Should Look Like

Some people mistakenly believe that "diversity" and "inclusion" are one and the same. Diversity and inclusion are actually two very different concepts, but their impacts in the workplace and the larger society are more profound when the two are implemented together. In fact, diversity is essentially meaningless without inclusion.

During this panel presentation, attendees heard from experts at the forefront of a dynamic and growing movement to ensure that diverse stakeholders play an active and inclusive role in the environmental movement.


Kevin T. Bryan
Senior Policy Director
Keystone Policy Center

Karen Driscoll
Senior Associate
The Raben Group

Randy K. Rowel
Environmental Consultant
RR & Associates

Nature in Your Neighborhood & Peer-to-Peer Conversations

Many people think of "nature" as some distant place, largely undisturbed by human activity. In reality, nature is all around us, including in big cities. In fact, many outstanding and accomplished environmental professionals developed their love of and respect for nature through their early outdoor adventures in their own urban neighborhoods. Now, many of these same professionals are reaching out to urban communities to encourage youth and others to explore environmental careers by exposing them to new and exciting possibilities.

In this session, participants heard directly from leading professionals who turned their neighborhood experiences into successful and fulfilling green careers. Panelists shared creative ideas about how to engage communities to enjoy outdoor experiences right in their own neighborhoods.


Curtis Bennett
Director of Conservation and Community Engagement
National Aquarium

Ronda Chapman
Executive Director
Groundwork DC

Tonya Johnson
Park Naturalist
Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission

Cherod Hicks
Environmental Engineer
Baltimore City, Department of Public Works

Roots and Resistance: Preserving the Rich Eco-Cultural Legacies of Black Communities

Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq. and Fred TutmanAfrican American communities have a rich legacy of protecting their ecosystems from corporate pollution as well as challenging land monopolization through the creation of heir property, the most widespread form of property ownership within the African American community.  Through the lens of two eco-activists, participants enjoyed an informative discussion that combined history along with present-day challenges.  The goal is to elevate both grassroots and legal strategies to advance an alternative future rooted in racial equity, economic democracy, and planet sustainability.


Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Esq.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Black Belt Justice Center

Fred Tutman
Patuxent Riverkeeper

Taking Control of Your Career in the Green Industry

"Green Jobs" help the environment as well as the local, regional and national economy. Experts on jobs, diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, HR, and the environmental movement shared details about the kinds of career opportunities exist today and talked about what opportunities might exist into the future. 

Attendees also learned great tips on effective networking and job search techniques during this engaging, interactive discussion.


Teri Brezner
Senior Fellow, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Environmental Leadership Program

Chanceé Lundy
Co-owner and Principal

Kristina Smith
Senior Consultant
Concordia Consulting

Beattra Wilson
National Program Manager,
Urban and Community Forestry
U.S. Forest Service

What You Need to Know to Engage Elected Officials

Laws and policies can have long-ranging and long-lasting impacts on both the physical and economic health of communities. That's why it's critical that individuals and communities understand the best ways to voice their concerns to government agencies and officials.

Experienced veterans on community engagement and environmental policy shared effective methods and best practices for interacting with government agencies and elected officials on the local, state and national levels in order to achieve positive change.


Joseph J. James
Founder and President
Agri-Tech Producers, LLC

Vince Leggett
President and CEO
The Leggett Group USA

William J. Roberts, Esq.
Legislative Director
Office of U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD)

Dawone Robinson
Advocate, Urban Solutions Program
Natural Resources Defense Council

Joanne Throwe
Deputy Secretary
Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Storytelling Performance

To close the day, storyteller and performance artist Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama’Echefu shared a piece specially created for the 2018 Taking Nature Black Conference titled  "A Hip Hop Frog Story of Dreams and Other Delicate Things in Our Irreplaceable World." 


Dr. Karen Wilson Ama’ Echefu
Cultural Historian, Singer and Storyteller