Advocating for Diversity in Environmental Nonprofit Boards

Why does once Marine Biologist, Dr. Francisco “Paco” Ollervides, transition from researching the impacts of boat noise on gray whale behavior, to become an Executive Director of Green Leadership Trust?

The relationship I had with everyday people while I was collecting this info, the fisherman, the boat captains, and so I saw I was more interested in relating to the everyday person and sharing our knowledge of what we were learning about the whales, instead of writing papers and scientific journals with my findings.

Often times, scientific research is highly technical and requires high subscription costs which limits the audience and level of impact. Additionally, scientific research tends not to be communicated and shared effectively with the general public, particularly in communities of color.

Seeing an issue with this separation, Dr. Ollervides chose to create his own nonprofit that focused on community-based conservation and his research interest in whale population and habitat conservation in Mexico. Later, Dr. Ollervides found opportunities to work in various nonprofit organizations providing strategic planning, fundraising, board development and succession planning.

Recently, Ollervides joined the Green Leadership Trust as their interim Executive Director to cultivate best practices in building diverse environmental nonprofit boards. He leads capacity building and development support to people of color and indigenous people serving boards of environmental groups across the country.

In Green Leadership Trusts’ 2016 census they found that out of 763 board members among the Green Group organizations, 88 of those members are people of color and indigenous people serving on those boards. The Trust also found that “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.”

With only 4.6% of board members being minorities, Dr. Ollervides and the Green Leadership Trust network:

  • Use various avenues to educate board members on the importance of diversity in the workplace.
  • Empower aspiring environmentalists of color to apply for these higher level positions.
  • Provide tools that indigenous and people of color need to advance equitable efforts for their community in the local decision making process.

In this episode, we discuss research on grey whales, the full transition to non-profit work, helpful advice for budding environmentalists, the importance of diversity in the workplace, and even more with Dr. Ollervides!

Please check out a link to the article here and a link to the podcast episode here.

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