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Ocean Conservancy

March 21, 2021

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Ocean Conservancy’s mission is to create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. “To deliver on this mission requires a just and equitable future, and it requires more of us”, states Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. Hear how Ocean Conservancy is delivering its mission, both internally in terms of how it operates, and externally in terms of how it incorporates justice and equity into its conservation and outreach work.

Thanks to Green 2.0 and our own personal experiences, we know that the marine conservation sector is overwhelmingly white, including Ocean Conservancy. In 2013, after our staff attended a conference talking about this very thing, we decided to act. We launched the Roger Arliner Young Marine Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program.

– Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy

The Ray Fellowship

Roger Arliner Young was the first black woman to earn a doctorate degree in zoology.

Roger Arliner Young was the first black woman to earn a doctorate degree in zoology.

“[The fellowship program] was named in honor of Dr. Roger Arliner Young, the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in Zoology in 1940. She was a groundbreaking researcher and a staunch social activist who also struggled with both physical and mental illness. In her long career she encountered numerous obstacles because of her sex, her race and a pervasive classism.” (By Emily Okikawa for Ocean Conservancy, The Little-known Life of the First African American Female Zoologist)

The Ray Fellowship program is designed to support and inspire the next generation of marine conservation leaders from diverse backgrounds. Since the inception of the program, Ocean Conservancy has worked with the Environmental Leadership Program to support and provide guidance to other organizations to also host Ray Fellows, and to realize the exceptional untapped talent that exists in other communities.

(Photo: Roger Arliner Young. Credit: Marine Biological Laboratory Archives)

In 2015, we launched a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to help identify areas of change, and to help lead and prioritize learning and development for our entire staff…Consistent with our plan, we’ve expanded our task force and we’ve hired a new position, a Senior Vice President of People to oversee all of our resources and internal justice, equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.

– Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy

Senior Vice President of People

“Adrienne began her love for the water’s excitement and calm as she spent her childhood summers with her grandparents on the shores of Annapolis, Maryland. She would enjoy Chesapeake Bay sunsets and was taught to water ski and regularly navigate the family boat. Her travels have taken her to so many beautiful bodies of water, which has added to her memorable experiences.” (Ocean Conservancy)

Adrienne Loftin brings a wealth of experience, expertise, and passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and has redesigned Ocean Conservancy’s hiring practices to be more inclusive and equitable.

“Adrienne is working closely with me, our leadership team, and our task force to help us ensure that our actions reflect our deeply held values and beliefs.”

– JANIS SEARLES JONES, CEO OF OCEAN CONSERVANCY

Some of the recent areas of focus for the task force include creating communities of support within Ocean Conservancy, and continuing to develop learning opportunities to institutionalize justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in decor elements of our programs, and helping increase staff fluency and competency.

(Photo: Adrienne Loftin. Credit: Ocean Conservancy)

Incorporating Justice and Equity in Conservation & Outreach

Ocean Conservancy is working with Kevin Bryan of Equnival Partners to assess where and how the organization could thoughtfully move forward on incorporating justice and equity into their conservation program. In November 2020, Ocean Conservancy’s board of directors approved a $2 million dollar, three-year investment in this work. Ocean Conservancy will bring on board a Vice President for Conservation, Justice, and Equity in April.

“The new position will lead Ocean Conservancy’s efforts as it incorporates justice and equity across programs, government relations and outreach strategies, and build new partnerships with other organizations focused on environmental and social justice.” (Ocean Conservancy)

“I’m encouraged to see this commitment by Ocean Conservancy, and would urge other organizations to name, resource and hire for this work,” said Andrés Jimenez, executive director of Green 2.0. “We can only achieve true conservation outcomes if justice and equity is treated as fundamental to the mission of conservation organizations, rather than an add-on or afterthought.” (Ocean Conservancy)

To learn more about Ocean Conservancy and their mission, visit oceanconservancy.org and follow on Twitter @OurOcean and on Facebook @oceanconservancy. For more updates from Janis Searles Jones, follow on Twitter @InVeritas_Jones.

To apply for The Ray Fellowship program, visit rayfellowship.org.

Additional reading:
Black History and Ocean History are Inextricably Tied, Ocean Conservancy

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