NPCA is intentional about how our own organizational transformation can contribute to the protection of our nation’s natural, cultural and historic treasures.
At NPCA, we work every day to protect and honor the inspiring values and stories that comprise our National Park System. They are places for reflection, for celebration, for connection to nature and for adventure. Our parks represent sites that honor the birth of our nation, battles for freedom and marches for equal rights that transformed our shared history. Our parks unite us and help bridge political divides. They teach us about where we have been, can inform our future and change us for the better. And we have so much to learn from the powerful lessons found within them.
These values of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion lie at the heart of who we are, what we do and how we work to protect our parks. Our commitment to these principles and our own evolution comes from these shared values our parks hold and a recognition of the challenging past we work to overcome every day.
Visibility = Accountability
Some of our greatest park victories come about when our work becomes a better reflection of these values held in our parks and the communities they represent: more just, more inclusive and more relevant to the people most impacted by current and historical challenges. We do this by listening to our partners, our communities and to our staff experts.
While we know there is much more work ahead of us, we have been intentional about how our own organizational transformation can contribute to the protection of our nation’s natural, cultural and historic treasures. We invest in our staff so together we can continue to learn and grow with a deeper understanding of the varied ways our parks connect to people and the meaningful role they represent for so many. We work to ensure NPCA becomes a reflection of our nation — as diverse as our parks we fight to protect and create and the communities that surround them.
We work to ensure NPCA becomes a reflection of our nation — as diverse as our parks we fight to protect and create and the communities that surround them.
One way that we have committed to holding ourselves accountable, together with colleagues across the environmental and conservation sector, is by joining the Green 2.0 challenge.
NPCA is committed to communicating openly and honestly about our values and culture, alongside nearly 75 other environmental and conservation nonprofits, to identify disparities in the broader environmental space. The Green 2.0 annual report card collects demographic information from willing participants representing the broader environmental and conservation communities, including representation of people of color on staff and boards; staff retention rates; and overall diversity, equity and inclusion practices. We are grateful to Green 2.0 for helping us all better understand how the environmental movement is adapting and growing to meet the challenges we face collectively.
We are proud of the progress we have made as an organization and are continuing our work to improve.
With people of color often most disproportionately impacted by issues related to air and water quality and the climate crisis, they remain the least represented within the environmental and conservation community. NPCA recognizes these challenges and works to improve our collaborative relationships, ensures our strategies are inclusive and that we grow our expertise and experiences to more greatly contribute to outcomes that benefit all of us.
There is much we are proud of in the progress we have made so far.
We have built on decades of growth and learning to win major victories, including helping to create important park sites such as Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument, Amache National Historic Site and Stonewall National Monument.
We respect the powerful voices and traditional knowledge of Tribal Nations to better tell and protect the stories of these treasured places. We support Tribal Nations and their leadership in decisions that affect their homelands and places of cultural significance, including a hard-fought 40-year battle to protect the Badger Two Medicine area alongside Glacier National Park from oil and gas development.
We work with veterans through our leadership council to foster deeper connections to our parks, leveraging their diverse backgrounds, skills and passion for our parks.
We have grown our staff by nearly 30% over the last five years, diversifying our professional expertise. We continue to invest in organization-wide trainings to deepen our commitment to the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
And we actively listen to and uplift the voices that have been absent, removed from or underrepresented in national park decision making.
Much like our commitment to preserving a landscape or waterway, this work is challenging and ongoing. As we continue to grow the important stories and inclusive representation within our parks, we know we must continue to do the same within NPCA. And we’ll continue on our own path of discovery and growth. We know this commitment will strengthen our connections with others and will result in healthier, more inclusive parks for generations to come.
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About the author
Robin Martin McKenna Chief Operating Officer
Robin Martin McKenna joined NPCA in 2000 and is currently Chief Operating Officer. Previously Robin was Vice President of Regional Operations, overseeing NPCA’s field program for two years and served as Deputy for the department for eight years prior to that.