The Green Leadership Trust builds a more powerful environmental movement by expanding the impact and leadership of people of color and indigenous people serving on US environmental nonprofit boards.
Launched in 2013, the Green Leadership Trust works to build an environmental and conservation movement that wins. We are unique in a number of ways because we are the first cross-organizational effort focused on building power and diversity in any advocacy sector. We are guided first and foremost by our responsibility as fiduciaries of the organizations we represent.
The Green Leadership Trust is building a thriving environmental and conservation community in the United States. We envision our movements embedding an environmental ethic and shifting practices and behaviors across sectors and institutions. We are working to win victories at all levels of policy and society.
Our definition of the environment as the places we live, work, and play means environmental issues are interwoven with the concerns and needs of the full spectrum and rich mix of America’s communities. Their voices are present in our work and visible in environmental narratives. Their well-being is tied to the health of flora, fauna, wilderness, and climate.
Our movements authentically reflect and engage the country and its communities with a specific focus on those most impacted by environmental degradation and who have least benefited from the fundamental right to a clean and healthy environment: communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities. Justice and equity ground our decisions and we forge environmental solutions not with trade-offs but by addressing multiple issues simultaneously, strengthening democracy, engagement, and resilience in all communities.
Green Leadership Trust is governed by a Steering Committee with three Co-Chairs. The full membership meets annually. Meet our Steering Committee here.
Why we exist
We conduct an annual board member census of the Green Group national environmental and conservation groups. Our 2016 census showed 763 board members among the Green Group organizations, and 88 of those members are people of color and indigenous people serving on those boards. While there have been lots of changes to boards since 2015, Green Leadership Trust efforts have catalyzed the trend toward greater inclusivity and an increase of 27 people of color and indigenous people. This is a gain for our ranks that can be attributed at least in part to our concerted efforts to identify and recruit from amongst our networks for open positions. In the same period 13 people of color and indigenous people have rolled off of boards. Please also note that this census keeping is somewhat of an art rather than just a science as organizations are not uniformly responsive and tend to safeguard internal record keeping for this information. One critical aspect of our privileged intelligence comes from GLT members serving on these boards which includes insights on potential and upcoming vacancies. Recent Green 2.0 reporting from April 2017 includes a different universe (includes foundations etc), but shows 22% people of color and indigenous people on boards.
Our Statement on Equity
To increase equity, GLT effects change at the structural level, beyond campaigns of diversity. We act together as fiduciaries of color and indigenous peoples identifying and confronting practices of bias, cultural preference and homogeneity, to transform the environmental sector. We do this because it is necessary to reaffirm the narrative about who cares about the environment, who bears the burdens of degradation, and who benefits from inclusiveness at every level. Everyone cares. Burdens are disproportionate. Everyone benefits. Practices of exclusion keep the environmental profession from achieving its highest potential: healing and sustaining all communities.
As leaders, fiduciaries, and members of the environmental community, it is our duty to make equity more than a watchword; to upend the culture that supports the commodification of communities of color and native peoples’ voices, experience, and expertise while turning a blind eye to its leadership and capacity to strengthen the sector as long-term partners.
We envision a world where communities of color and all indigenous peoples are equal owners and users of our movement’s tools, networks, and license to live and to lead. We undertake this work as multi-generational environmental leaders for the betterment of all peoples, and for the success of natural world, our deepest partner and most sacred provider.