These complementary programs move us forward in achieving our vision of environmental leadership: a strong network of diverse, talented, visionary leaders who are working individually and together for a just and sustainable future.
Yellow Arrows: Provides support to another program
White Arrows: Opportunity to progress from one program to another
Foundations: The Landscape
The early mainstream environmental movement was mostly divided into segmented issues such as air pollution, water pollution and land conservation. Through nearly three decades of these mainstream siloes, some integrated efforts gradually grew to connect environmental issues with social and economic issues— led primarily by communities of color, people living in poverty, and others experiencing multiple impacts. The concept of sustainability took hold in the mainstream in the 1990s, linked to broader realization that environmental advocacy must not be separated from efforts to improve human well-being.
Foundations: The Response
The response: In 1999, a dozen people representing academia, environmental practitioners, social activists, business, and public policy came together to design a program they wished they’d had when starting their careers. The Environmental Leadership Program was launched in 2000, founded with a unifying vision: prepare a diverse new generation of leaders who would work effectively in this emerging interdisciplinary context— bringing different perspectives and voices to find common cause and advance positive change across sectors and areas of work.
ELP’s first fellowship cohorts were at the national level, but within a few years ELP began to develop regional programs. Changes in funding, staffing, and the larger economic and environmental landscape led to shifts in ELP’s programming in 2010. Senior Fellows were key partners in helping the organization survive the downturn, helping to reshape and focus our work based on its most important and meaningful elements: bringing diverse groups together, building community and leadership ability, and orienting towards the vision of a just and sustainable future. In 2020, ELP’s core programs include 7 Regional Network Programs, covering 24 states and the District of Columbia and a National Fellowship Program.
ELP’s work in providing leadership training, building communities of practice, and our growing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion had a watershed moment in 2015 when we were asked to design the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Fellowship Program. The RAY Fellowship provides a career pathway for recent college graduates from diverse backgrounds, as a direct response to the Green 2.0 Report which called for mainstream environmental organizations to address the lack of diversity within the field. In 2017, ELP began to engage undergraduates of diverse backgrounds, through the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program (DDSCP) Alumni Network. This growing body of work supports ongoing professional development and networking for DDCSP alumni— a community of more than 350 as of 2020.
Growing with Intention
ELP continues to advance our mission and grow our programs in purposeful ways, with a deep focus on maintaining the strength of existing work. We are deepening our commitment to DEI work both internally and in our programs. At the heart of our growth in the coming years, we are building the RAY Diversity Fellowship with additional organizational partners. We are also strengthening connections between all our programs, through shared events and continued development opportunities, as well as a mentorship program between DDCSP Alumni, RAY Fellows, and ELP Senior Fellows.
- ELP provides leadership training, capacity building and personal development through 7 vibrant, successful Regional Network Fellowships and a National Fellowship program.
- We support emerging leaders through the RAY Fellowship and the DDCSP Alumni Network.
- ELP also partners with other nonprofits to offer organization-tailored trainings and facilitation in a range of topics such as working across difference, strength based leadership, building and maintaining learning organizations, and network weaving.