March 8, 2021 |The Conservation Fund

Women Who Are Making Conservation History

Prescribed Burn with TREX and ACR (Audobon Canyon Ranch) near Santa Rosa, Ca. More caption info upon request.Dr. Sasha Berleman
Director of Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Fire Forward Program
Stinson Beach, California
Photo by Sashwa Burrous

“Sasha works tirelessly to make Californians more fire prepared and knowledgeable. She’s helping to change the face of conservation and the way people relate to fire and the landscape.”
– Olivia Fiori
, Registered Professional Forester at The Conservation Fund

Dr. Sasha Berleman is a climate change champion, changing the way the Bay Area lives with fire. Since earning her doctorate in wildland fire science from University of California at Berkeley, she has used her expertise to improve processes and education around prescribed fire use for restoration of ecosystem health. She directs Audubon Canyon Ranch’s innovative Fire Forward program, which utilizes a blend of science-based program design, community organizing, and fireline leadership to expand capacity for managing fire-adapted landscapes like California’s North Coast.

With her team, Sasha organizes cooperative controlled burns and leads community efforts around fire management. She has helped several of The Conservation Fund’s foresters receive their Basic Wildland Firefighter qualification, which allows people to participate on prescribed burns or support wildfire suppression operations. As climate change continues to amplify the harmful effects of wildfires across the U.S., Sasha’s work is solidifying the safety and health of our ecosystems for future generations. Learn more about Sasha here.

3 8 21 Akiima Price 1 2018 ParksWithPurpose Peer Exchange Atlanta RobinMcKinney134Akiima Price
Consultant and Community Liaison
Washington, D.C.
Photo by Robin McKinney

“Akiima’s innovative use of parks to help individuals and communities recover from major traumas—from physical to social to emotional harms—is some of the most thoughtful and impactful work that I can think of for greenspace, especially in cities where even normal daily life imposes stresses and strains.”
– Erik Meyers, Vice President, Climate and Water Sustainability at The Conservation Fund

Akiima Price is a nationally respected thought leader at the intersection of social and environmental issues and the relationship between nature and community well-being in low-income African American communities. From her early career experiences as a National Park Service Interpretation Ranger at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Boulder City, Nevada, to her work with national environmental and social service organizations, Akiima has cultivated over 25 years of experience into cutting-edge best practices in trauma-informed environmentalism.

Akiima is currently a consultant to the National Park Foundation on the Anacostia Park Revitalization Project in her hometown of Washington, D.C. Having played in Anacostia Park as a child, Akiima is now charged with strengthening the Park’s programming and external relationships as a critical part of a broader effort to build an innovative friends group between the park and the highly stressed surrounding community. Her approach uses the park as a powerful medium to connect youth, adults, and families in meaningful, positive experiences that affect the way they feel about themselves, their communities, and their parks.

3 8 21 Roberta Moore Gopher tortoiseRoberta Moore
Conservation Associate at The Conservation Fund
Atlanta, Georgia

“Roberta’s work makes the outdoors a more inclusive and accessible place. She’s taught me a lot about conservation and has helped me overcome some of the fears I had as a Black woman in the outdoors. As a result, I’ve been able to take that knowledge to my family and friends to share that comfort with them as well.”
– Kelsi Eccles, Urban Conservationist at The Conservation Fund

Since 2017, Roberta Moore has supported some of The Conservation Fund’s most diverse and impactful conservation projects. Roberta is based in Atlanta, but plays an integral role in conservation across the Southeast—from small urban parks like Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park to 200,000-acre woodlands like Coastal Headwaters Forest. In particular, she has taken conservation mapping to a new level so that more people can visualize the scenarios behind our work. Roberta uses GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to create conservation maps that really demonstrate the impact of the Fund’s work across the Southeast and help identify priority areas for conservation throughout the region.

In her career and her life, Roberta is also an active advocate for social justice and equity for all people, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, race or background. She works closely with grassroots organizations and community members to ensure everyone feels safe and welcomed in nature. As a former environmental educator, outdoorswoman, and Georgia Master Naturalist, she passionately shares her knowledge and love of nature with any and all who wish to learn. Roberta is truly making the outdoors a better place for future generations. Learn more about her conservation work here.



3 8 21 Cherie Kearney and Kacee BadlandsCherie Kearney
Forest Conservation Director, Columbia Land Trust
Vancouver, Washington

“Cherie Kearney stands out from the field and is someone I will always look up to. She demonstrates an unusual combination of grace, determination, integrity, and humility—earning the respect of ranchers, rural County Commissioners, and business leaders. Her tireless efforts have made the Columbia River region a better place for all—and I will always be thankful for the chance to learn from her.”
– Evan Smith, The Conservation Fund Senior Vice President, Conservation Ventures

Cherie Kearney spearheads landscape forest protection throughout the lower Columbia River region in Washington and Oregon. Through her work as forest conservation director for Columbia Land Trust she has protected thousands of acres of forests and pioneered new partnership and funding models to advance the broad conservation work of land trusts.

One of Columbia Land Trust’s first employees, joining 23 years ago, Cherie is known as their go-to person for heading up conservation projects that initially seem complex—or even impossible. She loves people and the nuances of discovering shared values amidst diverse and even conflicting perspectives. Following that passion, she helped the Land Trust grow to reach a breadth of communities and ecoregions and to increasingly include more culturally and racially diverse perspectives.

Cherie’s imprint extends to her long-time community of Washougal on the Columbia River where she appreciates the rewards of being part of community, church, local organizing, and guiding nature walks. She is most at home outdoors, birding, running trails and being on, in and around water with her husband, granddaughter and dog.


3 8 21 Cheryl Peterson 1 McSEED Georgia Steve Orr 3Cheryl Peterson
Senior Managing Director, McIntosh S.E.E.D.
McIntosh County, Georgia
Photo by Steve Orr
“Cheryl’s work is not only impactful at a local level—it reaches a broader range across the Southeast. She is high-energy and compassionate, and her approach of working collaboratively with different groups really brings inclusion to the forefront. She embodies the idea that everyone has value and should have a voice in what is happening in their community.”
– Andrew Schock, Georgia and Alabama State Director at The Conservation Fund

Cheryl Peterson brings energy, empathy, and enthusiasm to her role as Senior Managing Director of McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (S.E.E.D.). A long-time partner of The Conservation Fund, McIntosh S.E.E.D. is a grassroots organization that fosters quality education, economic development, empowerment opportunities and environmental protection through community development, organizing and advocacy. Cheryl was instrumental in the creation of the McIntosh S.E.E.D. Community Forest, which gives residents opportunities to use their land for economic benefit while also being socially conscious about implementing good forestry management practices to conserve the environment. McIntosh S.E.E.D.’s efforts on this property—Georgia’s first community forest— have brought huge benefits to the community in surrounding counties, preserving the ecosystem and landscape while also creating economic benefits. Cheryl shares our belief that we can create both thriving ecosystems and economies.

3 8 21 Andrea Foster Little Forks Conservancy no credit required 2Andrea Foster
Director of Programs & Partnerships at Little Forks Conservancy
Midland, Michigan

“Andrea has such a special way of relating to people, especially groups that often don’t feel included in the conservation community, have been historically underserved or have gone through traumatic experiences. While her conservation work is important on its own, Andrea also shows that the healing power of nature cannot be overlooked.”
– Mike Kelly, The Conservation Fund’s Great Lakes Office Director

Andrea Foster has been a leader at Little Forks Conservancy in Michigan since 2015. At the Conservancy, Andrea’s been able to bring the joy of the outdoors to groups of people who are often overlooked by traditional environmental initiatives. Thanks to Andrea, members of the LGBTQ+ community, at-risk youth, and those who have suffered trauma are able to better enjoy the healing powers of nature.

Since starting at Little Forks Conservancy, Andrea has created several diversity and inclusion initiatives, including Nature/Nurture, an environmental education program for under-served youth, and OUTdoors Together, a hiking group for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. Her programs are connecting people and children across the Midwest with nature in a way that traditional programs don’t. In fact, she’s a nationally known speaker on bringing inclusion and diversity to conservation programming. We’ve been honored to work with Andrea and the Little Forks Conservancy on various projects across the Saginaw Bay area. Read more about Andrea’s perspective on gender, conservation and inclusion here.

3 8 21 Hannah Palmer 1Hannah Palmer
Writer, Urban Designer, and Activist
Atlanta, Georgia

“Hannah brings such a thoughtful, creative and authentic approach to everything she does. She has a deep appreciation of history and storytelling, a dedication to protecting and restoring a river that’s important to her and generations of people, and, more than anything else, a love of community that drives this conservation efforts forward and inspires everyone that she meets.”  
– Stacy Funderburke, Regional Counsel & Georgia and Alabama Associate State Director at The Conservation Fund

Hannah Palmer
 is the author of the memoir Flight Path: A Search for Roots beneath the World’s Busiest Airport. A native of Clayton County, she still lives with her husband and young sons on the southside of Atlanta, near where she grew up. As a writer and activist, her work explores the intersection of southern stories and urban landscapes, and she is currently working on a manuscript about swimming in the south called The Bottomland Diaries.

In addition to serving on the Board of Canopy Atlanta and the East Point Historical Society, Hannah currently leads as Project Coordinator for Finding the Flint. This joint effort of American Rivers, The Conservation Fund, and the Atlanta Regional Commission is focused on developing ideas for how the Upper Flint River can be rediscovered and restored in a way that supports communities, connectivity and economic development in the Atlanta Airport area. Finding the Flint aims to showcase all that makes the Flint River unique and create new ways for metro Atlantans—and all Georgians—to access and enjoy the river. Hannah envisions a healthier river and better quality of life in the airport area, and is making it a reality through her hard work and dedication.

3 8 21 ToodyToody Maher
Executive Director, Pogo Park
Richmond, California

“Toody is a pioneer in developing and leading a community-based approach to revitalizing urban parks in Richmond California’s Iron Triangle neighborhood. She and her team have demonstrated the importance of empowering the community to conceive, design, build and manage parks in disadvantaged neighborhoods.”
– Chris Kelly, The Conservation Fund’s California Project Manager

Toody Maher
 founded the nonprofit Pogo Park in 2007 with the strong belief that city parks held the potential to transform entire communities and improve the overall health and wellbeing of urban residents. Based in Richmond, California, Pogo Park works to transform parks and streets in the inner-city neighborhood known as Iron Triangle into safe, beautiful, green places to play and gather. Toody and her team are hard at work on the expansion of Harbour-8 Park, where The Conservation Fund was able to help purchase an adjacent property and transfer that land to Pogo Park in 2020.

The physical transformation of land has also served as an economic development engine to transform the lives of people who live in Richmond. Pogo Park hires, trains, and empowers community residents—those who know their neighborhood best—to plan, design, build, and manage these reimagined and rebuilt greenspaces. Toody and Pogo Park believe that the only way to have meaningful, lasting change is to invest resources into a community that lift up the people and the place at the same time.

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The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.8 million acres of land.