Press Releases

Adirondack Council Staff Leading National Discussion on Diversity, Inclusion in Land Conservation

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Adirondack Council Deputy Executive Director Raul "Rocci" Aguirre was a featured panelist Friday at a national forum discussing diversity, equity and inclusion in the land conservation movement, held as part of the Land Trust Alliance’s annual conference.  

More than 1,500 attendees from around North America participated in the three-day retreat, which ends Sept. 17.  This year marks 40th anniversary of the Land Trust Alliance and the 35th anniversary of Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference. 

Aguirre, who also serves as a regional commissioner for New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation (Saratoga-Capital District), was part of the opening plenary to start Rally. “I am deeply grateful and honored to have participated in kicking off Rally with my distinguished co-panelists,” said Aguirre. “Starting with a frank and personal discussion about the challenges of inclusive conservation was a sign of leadership by the Land Trust Alliance to step into a complicated but necessary space. I was glad to be a part of this symbolic start to the 35th Rally."  

“The Adirondack Council is proud of the work Rocci is accomplishing,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “Before his promotion to deputy executive director, he served for many years as our conservation director and helped to found the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, which became the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.  He has not only been a leader here, but helped to inspire other Latinos to seek careers in conservation.” 

Attendees also heard from a group of other panelists who bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to the issue of inclusivity in land conservation. They included Mavis Gragg, co-founder of HeirShares and Director of Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention at the American Forest Foundation; Gabe Sheoships, executive director of Friends of Tryon Creek and the lead facilitator of the Oregon Land Justice Project and chair of Nesika Wilamut. 

Keynote speakers at Rally included Colette Pichon Battle, a generational native of Bayou Liberty, Louisiana, and founder of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy (now Taproot Earth). The Alliance will also honor outstanding leaders in the field of conservation, including Ebonie Alexander, executive director of the Black Family Land Trust and the first person of color to serve on the board of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Alexander will receive the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award. 

Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.  

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.  Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

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