Leaders Who Inspire
Connecting with the outdoors creates opportunities for mindfulness, healing, and self realization. Many black women have seen the lack of diversity in the outdoors and have worked to open these experiences up to all. Their journeys inspire and motivate others to invite diverse representation in the outdoors. We are excited to highlight the work of five prominent outdoor leaders who are continually inspiring change in our culture and in the outdoor industry.
Audrey Peterman is president and cofounder of Earthwise Productions; and serves on the board of National Parks Conservation Association, the Association of Partners for Public Lands, and the National Parks Promotion Council. Her work in Earthwise Production focuses on connecting the public lands system and the American public. Audrey Peterman spent many years traveling the world. When she began exploring the national parks of America on a road trip across the country, she saw no black or brown people. She was determined to make a change. She and her husband shared their experiences in the parks as coauthors of the book, Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care, (2009). Mrs. Peterman wrote the travel guide: Our True Nature: Finding a Zest for Life in the National Park System, (2012) and co-founded the Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau (www.delnsb.com) in 2014.
Kellee Edwards, who was born and bred in Southern Chicago and spent her adulthood in San Bernardino, is a pro in travel matters, a journalist, and a TV host. She has a license for piloting, advanced open water scuba diving, and is an avid explorer at heart.
Her dedication to adventure travel created the niche for her brand to get famous and noted by some of the top brands in travel, including The Travel Channel. Kellee Edwards made history as the first first black woman to host her own show on The Travel Channel. Her series the Mysterious Islands, focuses on various remote and secluded islands worldwide that have yet to be explored. Not long ago, she started a podcast titled 'Let's Go Together' to expand the base of travel and adventure in diverse methods using her Travel and Leisure Magazine.
"It feels great to have black women that I work with every single day to be my tribe. It feels amazing to have women welcome me with open arms. So, I don't feel like I'm saving lives. I feel like they're saving my life."
Morgan Dixon is the CEO of GirlTrek, the largest public health non-profit for black females in the United States. GirlTrek includes thousands of black women walking daily and changing their lives. She is an unrelenting organizer who drew her inspiration from close associates and the philosophies of great women such as Ella Baker.
Before she established GirlTrek, Morgan Dixon was a figure clamoring for education reform in society. She is currently a member of the Boards of Trustees for the National Outdoor Leadership School. Morgan directed the development and start-up of six public schools in New York for two organizations funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Due to the success of GirlTrek, Morgan Dixon has been featured on CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and bestowed upon a “Health Hero” status by Essence Magazine. She has received social innovations fellowships from Teach For America in 2012, Echoing Green, Ashoka, and the Aspen Institute in 2015.
Leah Penniman is a soil steward, educator, author, and food sovereignty activist of over 20 years. She has worked at the Food Project, Farm School, Many Hands Organic Farm, Youth Grow and with farmers internationally in Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico.
Leah co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to reclaim our inherent right to belong to the earth and have agency in the food system as Black and Brown people.
Evita Robinson, born in 1984 in Albany, New York, is an African-American Urban Traveler and Speaker who is famously recognized for her influence in the urban travel movement. She created the Nomadness Travel Tribe and also the Nomadness TV.
She displayed her travel sojourns on her Nomadness TV before she established the popular and purpose-driven Nomadness Travel Tribe late in 2011, which has expanded beyond what has been expected. That community caters to African-Americans due to a lack of representation in the target market for tourism agencies. It is also dedicated to building an inclusive travel community and making world travel more accessible to people of color. It was reported in 2015 that the group consisted of nearly 10,000 travelers from about 36 countries and that many of them were Black Women who constituted nearly 80% of the congregation. From its pioneer activities till date, the brand has set up not less than four trips on an annual scale. She bagged an appointment as a member of the TED Residency's third cohort in 2017 and gave the pioneer TED Talk on the Black Travel Movement upon the conclusion of the program.
We have a long way to go before the outdoors are truly equitable but the work of leaders like these are moving us in the right direction. These impressive and impactful leaders are working to make the outdoors more inclusive for all.