Who are we? What is the Steering Committee?

To date, the purpose of the DDCSP Alumni Network has been to cultivate a supportive community where a new generation of conservation leaders can connect, build their capabilities, and unleash their collective power. The Environmental Leadership Program has been catalyzing and leading the collective efforts of our network.

Currently ELP is in the process of renewing its three-year contract with DDCF to support network development. Centering the collective vision of alumni is paramount is fundamental to this renewal process. The alumni steering committee is the group charged with ensuring the collective vision of alumni is centered throughout the contract renewal process. The steering committee’s deliverables are to develop an alumni-driven collective vision of success, develop or enhance programmatic priorities and key activities for the network, and co-create the network’s governance structure. This is an alumni-driven, and alumni-centered group, we do not want to make decisions in a vacuum! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone on the committee with questions, asks, feedback, or suggestions!

How were we selected?

We are a diverse group of alumni representing all the DDCSP programs and a wide range of years. We are all at various stages in our careers/ education. ELP and the DDCF were very transparent with us in the selection process and we want to be transparent with you all too so we’re going to recap everything that went into the selection process from creating the application, to selecting the 10 members of the committee. 

Graphic of people

In preparing the application for the steering committee, ELP staff and DDCF created a scoring rubric. A separate, non-reviewer, DDCF staff member anonymized the applications and provided the reviewers with individual scoring sheets. After scoring, the review team (Danielle, Luz & Sean) discussed the review process, sharing their individual approaches and reflections, as well as identifying next steps in the process. Ultimately, making these decisions was a challenging and imperfect task. The review team struggled, wanting to include all of you in this conversation.

Graphic of hands

The big question came to be: “do we select the top 10 based on application scores?” This was a hard question, but ultimately one where the limits and imperfections of “objectivity” were recognized. At this point, the review team revisited all the applications, but with new knowledge of program information, graduation year, and demographic data. Names were still kept anonymous at this point. The new information revealed that the cohort was mostly balanced, but the review team still wanted to ensure broad representation for the values that we all hold dear: applicant program, career interest, cohort year, applicant race/ethnicity demographics, and engagement. Wanting to make sure that diversity of thought, people and experience were well-represented, the review team flagged applications not already in the top 10 that offered a critical piece of the conversation. For example, the review team wants to include engaged alumni, and alumni who felt disengaged, wanting something different from the network. They brought in folx who are thinking traditionally of conservation and folx who are the vanguard of an integrated conservation definition. These are just a few of the ways that the review team made their best attempt to balance the steering committee and built a team that brings the diverse perspectives held across our almost 300 person DDCSP community!

What is our collective vision? 

“The vision of an organization is the furthest it can see. It is looking into the future, dreaming together, predicting impact, flexing the imagination muscle, and saying aloud what we long for.” 

-Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy

Graphic of thinking person

When we began our work as the Steering Committee, we discussed the Vision section of Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy and how we could best envision the future of our network. Last summer, the DDCF conducted an evaluation that would inform the renewal of their contract with ELP, as well as gain an understanding of the needs of our community. We used this evaluation as well as the alumni interviews and conversations to discuss and narrow down the network’s collective vision. Our initial ideas of the collective vision were of course messy, but after many meetings and conversations with other alumni, we have created the diagram below, The Collective Vision of Success. This includes needs such as mentorship (within and outside of the network), regular check-ins or events, and a space for connecting and sharing resources and knowledge. In the green rectangle on the right, we have listed some programmatic needs that alumni have suggested. The bottom red rectangle suggests ideas of what is not wanted from our network’s activities. As a committee, we felt our expansive collective vision aligns under four main themes: 

  • Connecting with Current Scholars
  • Connecting and Reconnecting (virtually and physically)
  • Helping each other (professional or not)
  • Maintaining a Diverse and Welcoming Environment

As will be discussed in the goals section, we have created a list of programmatic activities or needs that fall under each of our vision themes (diagram in the next section). The Alumni Network’s vision and goals are and always will be ever-evolving. All of this continues to be a conversation! We welcome any feedback or ideas you may have that will help us create a more representative collective vision and prioritize the activities that matter to all of us the most!



What are our goals as a Steering Committee? 

Our short-term priorities are the programming elements that will help lay the foundation for the Steering Committee’s more long-term goals. These include more interactive and alumni-led webinars, affinity or regional groups, collaborations with outside organizations, and mutual aid. We have created a diagram (above) that summarizes programmatic activities based on our collective vision and our conversations. All of this was inspired by our thorough consideration of the network evaluations, alumni interviews, and participation data. The goal is to narrow down and prioritize activities that most align with the network’s vision (as described in the previous section) and foster success for the alumni and the network. We believe most of these activities create space for professional, personal and community growth (or a combination of these).

Graphic of paper

As part of our long-term goals, we have been discussing the creation of a constitution and of implementing a governance structure that would create a self-sustaining network in the coming years. The committee, especially our Governance Structure Working Group--Leila, Houston, and Alliyah--, has been working on visioning different governance structures depending on varying levels of control. This continues to be a conversation and we hope to hold a Q&A session for you to discuss with us these different structures. 

Who is the Steering Committee?  

HoustonHouston Harris (she/her) is from the 2014 University of Florida cohort by way of University of Arizona. Since completing the program, she has gone on to complete her master's in Landscape Architecture and is now a Landscape Designer in Houston, TX. Her goals as a designer are to find ways to make
outdoor spaces more inclusive for humans and animals alike. This same thinking is her focus with being part of the Alumni Steering Committee. She hopes to make the space we are all a part of strong and flexible enough to support the community that we are today, and the community we will grow into in the future. When her feet aren't buried in the ground, her head is usually high in the clouds with a good book.




JessHello! I’m Jess Tran (she/her). I graduated from Stony Brook University, with a B.A. in Environmental Design, Policy, and Planning and a minor in Coastal Environmental Studies. Being a part of the 2018 DDCSP@NAU cohort developed my love for the outdoors, nature illustration, environmental justice, and community service! I’m excited to work on the steering committee to meet people from other cohorts and make the network a more inclusive and welcoming space!






SamiiraMy name is Samiira Husein (she/her/hers) and I was a part of the 2018 cohort at UC Santa Cruz. My personal interests include traveling, discovering new trails and outdoor spaces, skateboarding, and switching up my hair. My professional interests include social responsibility and environmental justice. My favorite part of being on the committee has been creating a vision of the future of the alumni network. The overall process has been very rewarding. I am focused on making our network more accessible for our community that is located all over the country and more self-sustaining so that it can continue to cater to everyone’s needs.




AmyAmy Hyun (she/her). September 8 virgo baby. Ma and ba's favorite mistake. Srirarcha on tap. 626 san gabriel valley boba shops on every block. Daughter of hoa kiều boat people from Việt Nam. Geographer. writer. poet. earring maker. diy enthusiast & staunch re-purposer. Your local lactose intolerant gardener. Newly bi-coastal earthling trying to figure it out. #1 philly water ice fan. Resilient Roots Community Farm apprentice farmer. youth educator. community organizing rooted in intergenerational learning + sharing. aspiring medicine maker.





BrittanyHello! I'm Britttany Amaral (she/her) and I'm an alum from the UW 2018 cohort. I love learning about nature, cooking, photography, gardening, foraging, and doing arts and crafts. I currently work at the University of Rhode Island's Wildlife
Genetics and Ecology Lab doing research on the New England Cottontail! However, my other professional interests include animal behavior and ethnobotany (food and natural medicines). My favorite part of being on the committee is meeting new alumni and learning how the network functions as a whole! I really want to play a part in making our network more inclusive and accessible for everyone so that the connections we make within it last for years to come.




GayatriMy name is Gayatri Girirajan and I graduated from the DDCSP NAU'18 program and from Arizona State University '20 as an urban planning major. I love being on the Committee because community-building is deeply important to me and learning the mechanisms of how a network like DDCSP builds community is amazing. I hope to help make the network strong over generations.






AlliyahI am Alliyah Lusuegro (she/they/siya), an alum of the UM 2018 cohort. I'm a proud Aquarius and will probably ask you for your astrological sign at some point if I ever meet you. As a recent college graduate, I'm still figuring out my professional trajectory because I feel like I love everything, but I know I've been wanting to be in the environmental field and/or medical field for a long time. The best thing about being on the committee is meeting all the folx in the other DDCSP programs and creating together! I am focused on making our network a robust and transparent support system. I want every DDCSP alum to feel like they can lean on the people and resources of this network when they want to, need to, or feel like it. Even when you don't need it, it's still there and that is comforting to know.



sandyHi everyone, I'm Sandy Marin (she/her) and I'm an alum of the 2014 DDCSP Collaborative (UF) cohort. I'm really excited to serve the alumni network as part of the steering committee to help center the voices of alumni in the management of the network. I am focused on making our network inclusive of the many amazing perspectives we have in this community, as well as helping this network meet the personal and professional goals of alumni. I currently work at the US Forest Service in the Offices of Conservation Education and Tribal Relations. In my free time I love gardening, cooking, baking bread, and, most of all, EATING! I also love hiking, camping, playing my guitar, and building things whenever I get the chance!




LetyLety Santillana (she/her) an alum from the UCSC 2017 cohort. On her personal time, she enjoys dancing, listening to music, spending tons of time in nature, and eating. Lety has been doing ecological field work with birds, plants and sea turtles, and she plans to continue working in wildlife research. She is also interested in conservation medicine and environmental education and hopes to continue learning and incorporating different fields within conservation in her life. As a part of the committee, she has enjoyed getting to know and learn from other alumni as well as having challenging conversations about who and what the network is for. Personally, she hopes to see a more inclusive and connected network that creates a space for community building, collaboration and professional growth!



LeilaI (she/they) completed the UW program in 2016. My personal interests are all centered around exploration. I work and play in the outdoors in a number of ways. I was working as an outdoor educator until the end of 2019. I "retired" from the field life hoping to transition into something more long term. I love the idea of building intentional community centered around art and activism in my community. I am slowly building an online ceramics store that I hope to turn into a physical space one day. I am focused on making our network inclusive. I want to build systems that empower the minority opinion and keep power/responsibility in the hands of the individual.




What’s next?  

We joined with the understanding that would be an ever-evolving, ever-changing initiative. That being said, the Steering Committee was initially scheduled to be from March-June 2020. But with COVID19 and the realization that this is a much longer conversation, it has been extended until November 2020, when the ELP contract will be renewed. The plan is to develop strategies for consistently communicating ELP/Steering Committee plans with the network, what ELP’s scope of services will be in the context of our collective vision, the network’s programmatic goals, and how funding will be managed. Some Committee members will be staying on and some will be leaving.  

Graphic of wheel

With the groundwork we have put together for a governance structure, a collective vision, and goals, we hope this work can continue to be built upon with broader alumni input. For the next stage of the Steering Committee, communications materials will include: 

  • Q&A Zoom Sessions: Zoom sessions where anyone can join and ask questions of Steering Committee members and Foundation members. More information about time and link specifics will be sent out. 
  • Anonymous Google Form where people can submit questions or comments with immediate follow-up.