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National Wildlife Federation

June 7, 2021

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The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) believes people’s experiences in the United States with cherished landscapes and wildlife has helped define and shape the nation’s character and identity for generations. In order to save wildlife and people, NWF understands it is critical to operationalize and embed equity and justice into their organizational policies, practices, and programs. Hear how NWF strives to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in all elements of their work and also the work with their partners.

The beginning of a long but essential journey

The National Wildlife Federation is at the beginning of a long but essential journey to become an inclusive organization that brings people together across racial differences to do big things for communities and wildlife. Our vision is to put people first, center equity and justice in everything we do, and combat systems of oppression and other injustices that impede our ability to achieve our mission. By living up to our core values and committing to this vision, the National Wildlife Federation can become an organization that fully welcomes, retains, and celebrates staff, volunteers, and supporters from all backgrounds.

– Chanté Coleman, Vice President, Equity and Justice, NWF

Under NWF’s commitment to equity and justice, they have achieved the following:

  • Established effective and diverse staff and board Equity and Justice committees;
  • Hired their first Director of Equity and Justice;
  • Accepted into the first-ever Equity and Environment Leadership Cohort;
  • Added equity as the 14th goal of the National Wildlife Federation strategic plan;
  • Established the Employee Resource Group Program;
  • Developed new, equitable hiring processes;
  • Implemented equity and justice organization-wide learnings;
  • Updated the standards of affiliation to include equity and justice language, ensuring that the future of the Federation family is equitable and just.

There is no way to truly achieve our mission of protecting wildlife and the environment without first addressing systemic inequities both inside and outside our organization. Racism and inequity are perpetuated by the same forces and structures that perpetuate environmental degradation. We cannot address one without addressing the other – healthy communities support healthy wildlife. The National Wildlife Federation is committed to centering people in our work to protect the natural world.

– Elizabeth Lillard, Manager, Women in Conservation Leadership and Equity + Justice Strategy, NWF

“We are better collaborators and will only achieve our mission when our staff and partners reflect the full diversity of our country, including but not limited to: race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, socio-economic status, age, ability, religion, and political philosophy.” (NWF)

As someone working on a range of our federal campaigns, I can tell you that our work to become an equitable and just organization is the most important step we are taking to deliver on our mission. I personally have gotten more professional development and learning as a person and an advocate in the last year of working with the equity and justice team than in all of my 7+ years at the National Wildlife Federation. Our political power comes from the richness of the relationships we have across the country and the talent and strategic thinking of our staff – both of which rely on making this organization a trusted, inclusive environment where the best ideas are heard and everyone shows up ready to listen and grow from each other. The principles and attitudes that lead to equity also lead to better work environments for everyone and more impactful campaign outcomes to benefit people and wildlife.

– Samantha Lockhart, Director, Eastern Regional Field Campaigns, NWF

“We can carry out our work with greater mindfulness and inclusivity if we recognize the social, economic, and political contexts that shaped the early environmental and conservation movements, and resulted in cultural biases that permeate our institutions today. Only by understanding and addressing these biases will we justly and equitably engage with one another while pursuing our conservation goals.” (NWF)

When we prioritize people and center equity and justice, we give life to a new vision where people and nature can thrive together. We expand our values to celebrate everyone as their authentic selves who are truly seen as important to our mission and imperative to our collective success. We deepen our understanding of the role the conservation movement has played in perpetuating systems of oppression and can begin taking accountability to heal past harms. We see clearly that becoming an anti-racist organization is integral to our work and our own liberation.

– Marisa Sandoval, Coordinator, National Campaigns, NWF

“We work more effectively by empowering staff, affiliates, members, and partners to support and ensure that this commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice is incorporated into our vision, organizational structure, budget, and work.” (NWF)

Protecting the environment and building healthy communities are one in the same because when people of different races and from different places thrive, wildlife will too. For a long time the National Wildlife Federation has failed to make the connection between people’s health and nature’s wellbeing, but we are beginning to change. Oppressive systems, such as racism and poverty, share root causes with pollution and habitat loss. So we can’t hope to address one without addressing the other. We need to work together to ensure we have healthy communities and healthy wildlife, now and for generations to come.

– Anna Brunner, Senior Manager, Equity and Justice, NWF

To learn more about NWF and their mission, visit nwf.org and follow on Twitter @NWF, on Facebook @NationalWildlife, on Instagram @NationalWildlife, and on YouTube at National Wildlife.