The Alumni Leadership Cohort with The Environmental Leadership Program has served as a tool of empowerment in my career as an urban environmental professional. ALC 1 brought together the different regional cohorts of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at White Oak Conservation Center to create a collaborative and cross-cohort learning experience. The leadership program explores issues in diversity and inclusion within the conservation field at a detailed, and beyond surface level approach. ALC challenged dominant stories about people of color in conservation. These dominant stories often included stereotypical sentiments and false information on people of color and our collective involvement in the conservation movement. On a personal level, these dominant stories are associated with my urban community in New York City. My peers and I were pushed to think critically on how we can serve as agents of change, share resistance stories, and create positive environmental narratives on the involvement of our diverse populations in the conservation movement.

ALC 1 has provided us with the opportunity to influence the next generation of conservation leaders in the current Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program cohorts. My peers and I are currently working in specialized teams to provide communications, newsletters, professional trainings, educational opportunities, and job search assistance for current DDCSP scholars. The ALC - Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) focuses on providing these resources with input from the different communities of
current scholars and alums.

On a personal level, ALC 1 continues to foster the exploration of my strengths and life trajectory, as a person and a professional. With the guidance of ALC 1 mentors, I am planning my personal and professional timeline of what I would like my life to look like while incorporating balanced elements and aspects. I have been able to overcome imposter syndrome and identify myself as a urban Puerto-Rican conservation professional in a movement that at many times felt elitist, mythical, and weary of urban students of color. To explain imposter syndrome in my experience pertained to issues of tokenism in environmental organizations or feeling that I was let it for a program requirement known as the“check-box”. Nevertheless, these ideas are false and were brought upon by external visualizations of who media thinks should be allowed to engage in conservation. I have a cultural legacy of my families involvement in conservation. I have multigenerational experiences in New York City engaging with the community, and caring for the space that I reside. After overcoming imposter syndrome, I am confident in my communication skills to convey the message of conservation with our diverse communities. I feel more confident in spreading my experiences within conservation using social media, and everyday conversation. ALC has helped me further engagement in the conservation movement, and hone my
leadership skills.