March 8, 2022 |The Conservation Fund

Black Leaders Connecting With Conservation and History

Dian Moss

Managing Director of Project New Village
San Diego, California

Dian Moss (left) and Project New Village’s Mt. Hope Community Garden (right). Photos by Eder Escamilla.

Dian Moss has more than 30 years of experience managing small community-rooted organizations in Southeastern San Diego. She established Project New Village in 1994 to help address the issues facing her neighborhood, including health challenges and a lack of access to fresh, healthy food.

A disproportionate percentage of residents in Southeastern San Diego suffer from chronic, life-threatening diseases that can be traced to diet, nutrition and physical activity, and food insecurity is only increasing. Dian and Project New Village are not only addressing this issue, but they are transforming the fight against food insecurity in California. Their neighborhood-based agricultural cooperatives are removing barriers that impede universal access to food through community and civic engagement.

We were honored to support Dian and Project New Village’s acquisition of their Mt. Hope Community Garden site back in 2019. You can learn more about that effort here.

In addition to Project New Village, Dian is involved with numerous community and cultural groups including the San Diego Food System Alliance, and Hunger Free San Diego Advisory Board among others. She was selected as the 2019 Woman of the Year for the 79th State Assembly District and awarded the 2019 Trailblazer award by the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint.


Phillip Howard

Forgotten Civil Rights People and Places Program Manager for The Conservation Fund
Birmingham, Alabama

Left: Phillip Howard featured in the documentary “54 Miles to Home,” which he helped produce. Photo by Southern Exposure Films. Right: Photo courtesy Phillip Howard.

Phillip Howard is dedicated to preserving, restoring, and raising awareness of the Civil Rights movement in his home state of Alabama. Phillip’s passion is infectious and his ability to listen and guide is inspiring to those who work alongside him.

He refers to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Freedom Rides, the Birmingham Campaign, and the Selma to Montgomery March as the “Mount Rushmore of Civil Rights events in America,” and he is working to conserve and protect these important places and stories before they are lost.

As Manager of the Forgotten Civil Rights People and Places Program at The Conservation Fund, Phillip leads the effort to protect the places and stories associated with campsites along the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Phillip has built relationships with every historical site along the 54-mile route, and, through his efforts, many of the people who share this history are meeting and working together for the very first time. Under Phillip’s guidance, the campsites were selected to the Alabama State Registry for Historical Spaces and were designated one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2021. Phillip also helped produce the documentary “54 Miles From Home,” where, for the first time, the families who still own these campsite properties spoke publicly about the contributions of their parents and grandparents, David Hall, Rosie Steele, and Robert Gardner, and the very real dangers they faced by allowing the marchers to stay on their properties.


Ayanna Williams

Director of Community and Environmental Resilience for the National Recreation and Park Association
Atlanta, Georgia

Left: Photo by Park Pride. Right: Photo courtesy Ayanna Wiliams.

Ayanna Williams has made numerous contributions to communities and parks in Georgia and is a valued and trusted partner of The Conservation Fund. Ayanna’s career has been all about building community and advancing equity through nature and public spaces. She possesses a unique combination of hands-on experience, knowledge-fueled passion, and commitment to community-driven solutions, and has been a valuable advocate for a more inclusive greenspace movement.

Ayanna is currently the Director of Community and Environmental Resilience at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Her work is focused on facilitating conversations between park and recreation professionals and community partners to amplify equitable solutions to address historic environmental injustices through climate-ready parks. Park and recreation professionals plan, manage, and maintain 11 million acres of public parks and greenspaces across the country, and are poised to bring community-driven climate solutions that build a more healthy, resilient, and equitable future for generations to come.

Prior to her role at NRPA, Ayanna was the Healthy Cities Director at The Nature Conservancy in Georgia. She previously served as the Director of Community Building with Park Pride for more than a decade. During her time at Park Pride, Ayanna actively worked with us to build trust within the community as we expanded Vine City Park and purchased .7 acres of land that ultimately became Lindsay Street Park, our first Park with Purpose in Atlanta.

Darryl Haddock

Environmental Education Director for the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
Urban Waters Federal Partnership Proctor Creek Ambassador
Atlanta, Georgia

Left: Darryl Haddock teaching children hear about the Proctor Creek Watershed at Lindsay Street Park in Atlanta. Photo by Shannon Lee. RIght: Photo courtesy WAWA.

The West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA) seeks to improve the quality of life for residents in West Atlanta by protecting, preserving, and restoring the community’s natural resources. Darryl Haddock, Environmental Education Director for WAWA, educates and engages residents about challenges these communities face, such as combined sewer overflows, water quality issues, and access to recreational opportunities.

The Conservation Fund has successfully partnered with Darryl and WAWA on several projects, including a Watershed Learning Academy program that provides educational opportunities for metro Atlanta residents living in the city’s various watersheds. Darryl has also been instrumental in partnering with us to support the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, a community led organization that protects Proctor Creek and creates a space for residents to meet directly with government and non-profit partners to collaboratively address environmental concerns.

Darryl also serves as Ambassador for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP) Proctor Creek location, which was designated as an UWFP watershed in 2013. The Conservation Fund is proud to be one of many supporting partners of this initiative. As a local resident and expert, Darryl brings a wealth of knowledge and connections to his role as Ambassador, and he has earned the trust and respect of the communities and partners alike. Darryl is helping to ensure that as community and environmental initiatives are advanced, residents can live in a safe, thriving community with access to a clean creek to fish and swim in, quality food, healthcare, infrastructure, and affordable housing opportunities.

Written by

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.