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National Audubon Society

Founded 1909
President John Flicker
Staff 700
2008 Revenue $104,260,000

"Audubon has a major and lasting commitment to expanding the diversity of our movement," says Phil Kavits, Audubon's vice president. "The health of people, wildlife and the environment we share are all interconnected and cannot be protected in isolation." 

Eight Audubon Centers have been opened in urban communities since the SWOP letter was written, with more on the drawing board. "Many directly address the serious environmental justice concern that diverse communities have long been the dumping grounds for all the bad things that richer, less diverse communities don't want nearby." Audubon has partnered with local government agencies and residents to help clean up and transform once-undesirable locations into community assets.

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The Wilderness Society

Founded 1935
President William H. Meadows
Staff 138
2008 Revenue $23,551,536

Says President Bill Meadows, "Over the past 12-13 years, we've been much more attentive to issues of diversity than we were before. When I came, I made a commitment to build partnerships and coalitions. … We've been working with African American organizations in the Southeast, Native organizations in Alaska and Hispanic groups in the Southwest -- that kind of positive work."

Meadows says the group has had the greatest impact in Alaska, where it has an Alaska native on staff, Lydia Olympic, who works to protect Bristol Bay from oil exploration and to keep the North Slope in Barrow free from off-shore oil exploration. "We have a great concern about the impact of oil exploration on the sea. Alaska natives are dependent on fishing and hunting -- we help them, they help us."

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National Parks Conservation Association

Founded 1919; renamed the National Parks and Conservation Association in 1970 and National Parks Conservation Association in 2000.
President Tom Kiernan
Staff 160
2008 Revenue $61,107,237

"I don't think it's possible to overestimate the impact" of the SWOP letter, says Alan Spears, legislative representative. "Very few people at NPCA had any real sense of the environmental justice movement and how it was evolving, and they were very surprised that anyone felt NPCA was a problem."

By 1994, the group had hired a diversity consultant, and by 1996 established an "enhancing cultural diversity" program -- seeking to make the national parks more accessible to people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, "making them aware that parks also commemorate aspects of culture and history relevant to their lives." The program ended in 2003.

In 1998, NPCA began the national Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program, connecting the Park Service to places that were part of the Underground Railroad. That program is still active in 31 states and the District of Columbia and has slightly under 400 members, including sites, facilities and programs.

"The capstone was the Environmental Diversity Working Group -- EDWG -- established as a green group think tank on cultural diversity," Spears says. The group's diversity consultant, Iantha Gantt-Wright, was hired to run the program.

"Between 2004-05, we had an 8-9 percent increase in diversity of our staff in D.C. But we didn't see equal advancement in terms of regional staff. Personally, I think we have work to do. … If we don't have the broadest constituency for park protection, we'll be in trouble. The old constituency is shrinking." 

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