Outdoor sector DEI coalition announces membership, advisory & governance councils

Posted On by

Together Outdoors (TO), a coalition supported by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and comprised of businesses and organizations in the outdoor recreation industry committed to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JEDI/DEI) in the outdoors, announced their Advisory and Governance Councils today. These established leaders who represent affinity groups, NGOs, public and private-sector organizations, and academic interests will work with TO as it develops actions for organizations, recreation destinations, and outdoor enthusiasts on how they can take meaningful steps to attract, embrace and support inclusion. TO also announced the growing coalition now includes over 70 members from across the recreation spectrum from boating, hiking, RVing, off-roading and much, much more.

TO’s advisory council members have deep experience in advancing JEDI/DEI in the outdoor community. They will provide recommendations to the TO team on programming and initiatives, in addition to helping facilitate educational sessions and workshops for the coalition. Members include:
· Ambreen Tariq, Founder, Brown People Camping

· Briana Blanchard, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Access Fund

· Crystal Egli, Co-Founder, Inclusive Journeys

· Jahmicah Dawes, Owner, Slim Pickins Outfitters

· Dr. Jose Gonzales, Assistant Professor in Recreation and Tourism, Cal State University-Northridge

· Lydia Parker, Founder, Hunters of Color

· Syren Nagakyrie, Founder, Disabled Hikers

· Yvonne Leow, Founder, Bewilder

TO’s governance council includes leaders in business, NGO, and public-sector organizations related to advancing outdoor recreation in the United States. They will assist ORR with providing direction for TO’s mission and values, program design, communications, fundraising, partnerships, and access. Members include:
· Bob Ratcliffe, Chief of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs, National Park Service

· Dan West, Director of Public Policy, Rivian

· Danica Carey, Director of Marketing Operations, Seirus Innovation

· Dr. Jose Gonzales, Assistant Professor in Recreation and Tourism, Cal State University-Northridge

· Jil Littlejohn Bostick, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Winnebago Industries,

· Kevin Williams, Vice President of Marketing, National Marine Manufacturers Association

· Mary Mitsos, President and CEO, National Forest Foundation

· Michal Rosenoer, Government and Community Relations Manager, Hipcamp

· Mollie Hansen, Chief Marketing Officer, Airstream

· Renee Jones, Senior Director of Marketing, THOR Industries

In the coming months, the coalition is also prioritizing the creation of an interactive JEDI/DEI resource library and a symbol for coalition member organizations, destinations and more to use to show their commitment to JEDI/DEI issues and solutions for creating a more safe, welcoming, and inclusive outdoor experience for everyone.

“It is crucial for the outdoor industry to acknowledge the years of labor by BIPOC and other underrepresented communities who have driven the movement to make the outdoors a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space,” said Gerry Seavo James, Coalition Lead for Together Outdoors. “Empowered by the leadership, passion, and experiences of our newly formed advisory and governance councils, we strive to build upon those efforts within the industry and greater outdoor community.”

“As a BIPOC-led organization, we understand the strength of community and the need for intersectionality,” said Lydia Parker, executive director of Hunters of Color. “We’re excited to join “Together Outdoors” and participate on the coalition’s advisory council with other outdoor leaders so that we can coalesce our strength and knowledge and share power with all historically excluded people.”

“People with disabilities are 25 percent of the population; when you include people with chronic illnesses, that number increases to over 60 percent. Yet disability is often left out of the conversation,” said Syren Nagakyrie, founder, Disabled Hikers. “My goal is to elevate the conversation about disability in the outdoors and expand the concept of what accessibility means. Together Outdoors provides opportunities to educate and build more access and inclusion in the outdoor industry.”

“This coalition is a rare and tremendous effort to address the lack of diversity and inclusion in the outdoors at an industry-wide level,” said Yvonne Leow, founder, Bewilder. “I’m honored to represent the voices of beginner campers and backpackers in California, Bewilder’s home base, as we start putting our ideas into action both on the advisory council and on the coalition. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but this initiative is a critical step in the right discussion.”

This week TO held the first session of a seven-month educational series for coalition members. The first session’s module was, “How We Got Here: Barriers to entry + history of access to outdoor recreation spaces.” The goal is to equip members with the foundational knowledge to understand and analyze how historic systems of exclusion intersect with current barriers to access, resulting in reduced participation for groups including BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQ+, different socioeconomic status, immigrants, and others. TO’s other educational sessions include, “Building a Better Team: Recruitment of diverse employees,” “Supporting the Work: Corporate giving + partnerships,” and “Accountability: How to evaluate your progress on DEI measures,” among several others.

Organizations seeking to join TO can navigate to TogetherOutdoors.com and fill out a membership query form. The coalition is focused on helping all interested organizations connect with DEI experts, resources and education.