Jerri Taylor standing in front of the WEL summit bannerFrom September 14–17, the Anacostia Community Museum hosted the Women’s Environmental Leadership Summit 2023 to explore the multiple ways in which environmentalism is practiced, pathways to environmental leadership, and best practices for community-centered advocacy and activism.

Jerri Taylor, SFI’s Director of Diversity in Career Pathways, moderated “Shaping Your Path: Choosing an Environmental Studies Program.”

“To be able to influence the next generation of foresters and conservationist through our lived experiences was an honor,” said Taylor. “It was truly a moment of understanding the importance of reaching back to move people forward, and I am forever grateful.”

The summit’s theme was “Where We Live, Work, Play, Pray, and Learn.” On Taylor’s panel, Mona Munroe-Younis from the Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint (ETM Flint) and Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor from the Yale School of the Environment shared their perspectives on exploring  pathways to environmental degrees, practical steps to building an environmental practice, and finding your niche through green jobs and mentorship.

Munroe-Younis founded ETM Flint with a group of Flint residents to help make Flint a healthy, vibrant, and supportive environment for people and nature to thrive. She emphasized the importance of having many mentors in your life—not just one. And in fact, she was a past student and mentee of Dr. Dorceta Taylor.

Dr. Dorceta Taylor is a leader in the field of institutional diversity and workforce dynamics in the environmental sector. She launched the Yale Conservation Scholars – Early Leadership Initiative to provide undergraduate students who are traditionally underrepresented in conservation with summer opportunities to help build a diverse and resilient green workforce. Dr. Dorceta Taylor is also featured as a Hidden Figure in the SFI-PLT-MANRRS Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers in recognition of her leadership and her influential 2014 report The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations, and Government Agencies.


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On the panel, Munroe-Younis and Dr. Dorceta Taylor shared insights on how to advocate for yourself, the importance of having connections and mentors everywhere you go, and the need to pay it forward to uplift others along the way.

Interested in mentorship? Check out Project Learning Tree’s Green Mentor program.

Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor, Martin McCrabb, Jerri Taylor and Martin's mother standing.One of Jerri Taylor’s mentees attended the panel as well. Her former student Martin McCrabb joined the WEL Summit to see her green job in action.

“I got very nervous going to the summit, but I took the opportunity to learn something from someone that I consider to be more than a mentor but a family member. My mentor inspired me to follow my dreams to make a difference in the natural world. I think that mentors have the role to challenge us; if we do not get challenged, we get bored, and if we get bored, we are not learning,” said McCrabb. “This experience changed my view of the conservation and forestry sector by showing me that it is a more diverse sector and that I have a place. It also showed me that there are many Black women who are leaders in this space, which is not represented on TV or in the media. I have never seen Black scientists up close, but I had a chance to see them at the Women in Leadership Summit, which was inspiring.”

McCrabb said Jerri Taylor taught him the importance of setting long-term goals and achieving smaller goals along the way, stepping out of his comfort zone, and having a voice in the conservation and forest sector to ensure it is a space for all. He also noted the need for family to support your dreams, and credited his mom for supporting him at the conference when he was nervous.

Women’s Environmental Leadership (WEL) was launched in 2018 by Urban Waterways to build the next generation of environmental leadership. WEL creates spaces for women to explore environmental issues through a social justice lens and consider new visions for leadership and community impact. Learn more about WEL.

The SFI-PLT-MANRRS Black Faces in Green Spaces: the Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers Guide inspires young Black Americans to pursue forest and conservation careers by telling the stories of Black Americans who have taken this career path and who have advice and resources to share. Learn more about the Journeys Guide.