March 8, 2022 |The Conservation Fund

Women Forging Change

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2022, we wanted to honor several inspiring women who are forging change for nature and communities. These six women embody tireless dedication and success in bringing positive change.

Brenda Archambo
President of Sturgeon for Tomorrow
Cheboygan, Michigan

They don’t call Brenda Archambo the “Sturgeon General” for nothing. Her decades of work in Michigan have been critical for the protection and restoration of sturgeon—a state-threatened species in Michigan and across most of the Great Lakes region.

Brenda is the founder of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, where she’s raised millions of dollars for sturgeon restoration and education. ​In addition to spearheading the fundraising effort to build Michigan’s primary sturgeon hatchery, she also originated the “Sturgeon in the Classroom” initiative, where 15 local classrooms began raising sturgeon over the course of the school year for release in the spring. She also administers the “Sturgeon Guard,” which engages volunteers to help protect sturgeon from poaching during their spring spawning run. Her dedication to this special species has defined an entire movement in the Michigan community.

“Since childhood I have always loved the outdoors and wild places. I found peace in the wilderness and still do today. When I learned our majestic lake sturgeon were nearing the brink of extinction, I knew we needed to protect and promote biodiversity. Through education, engagement and mobilization of diverse constituencies we have developed many conservation stewards. Women in conservation are making huge strides through leadership and empowering others to rise up and speak their truth.”

- Brenda Archambo

Susan Arnold
Interim CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club
Strafford, New Hampshire

Susan Arnold recently made history with her appointment as Interim President and CEO of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), marking the first time a woman has led the organization in its 145-year history. Susan has been with AMC for more than 18 years, having previously led the organization’s climate policy and conservation vision as Vice President for Conservation. In her new role Susan plans to prioritize working to expand and ensure equitable access to the outdoors, while continuing to advance AMC’s mission of fostering the protection, enjoyment and understanding of the outdoors.

For Susan and AMC, recreation and conservation work hand in hand. Susan is passionate about conservation work and protecting the places where people want to explore and play. The Conservation Fund has had the pleasure of working with Susan and AMC on the Pleasant River Headwaters Forest Project, which when transferred will add 27,000 acres of working forestland to AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, bringing the total of AMC-conserved lands in the 100 Mile Wilderness region of Maine to just over 100,000 acres. This region is a globally significant forest as well as a huge carbon sink, and its scale and connectivity support biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.

“As VP for Conservation for the last 18 years, I was often the only woman in the room when the so-called “higher ups” of various colleague organizations were meeting. But women were frequently the ones running the programs and doing the boots on the ground conservation work deeper down in our respective organizations. While not everyone has the chance to break a 145-year-old glass ceiling, I am proud to be a part of a more recent trend that is seeing more women in top leadership positions in the conservation world. I believe this leads directly to the work still before us in conservation organizations to remove the barriers to greater participation and leadership from BIPOC and representatives of other marginalized communities, and that women in leadership positions have a special calling to get this work done.”

- Susan Arnold

Aniya Bourne
Filmmaker and owner of Bourne To Film
Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina

Aniya Bourne has always been captivated by film and visual storytelling. Through her company Bourne to Film, Aniya uses her keen eye for capturing conservation efforts and skill in translating complex concepts into easily digestible material.

Her work has helped many environmentally focused organizations reach and share their stories with diverse audiences. Aniya has been instrumental in bringing The Conservation Fund’s urban conservation work to life and helping us to share the impact of Parks with Purpose in Raleigh, Durham and Atlanta.

“It can be very intimidating working in a male dominated field. My videography teacher, Ms. Poteat, was a huge source of support and motivation. She challenged me creatively and pushed me to continue to explore and pursue my passion. As I continue to learn and grow in my skills and confidence, I would love to be able to motivate, encourage, and work with other women interested in filmmaking. It has been such a blessing to see how working with individuals, businesses, and organizations to tell their story has impacted, educated, and uplifted communities!”

- Aniya Bourne

Lauren Fety
Forest and Climate Project Manager at The Conservation Fund
Sacramento, California

Lauren Fety has been a driving leader in The Conservation Fund’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change. And she does so not from an office or a desk, but from a forest. A Registered Professional Forester, Lauren focuses on forest management and carbon offsets in our North Coast Forests in California. Here, she gets an up-close look at the critical impact that vast, mature, working forests can have on our environment; and how protecting and sustainably managing working forests can be one of the most efficient, effective ways to remove carbon from atmosphere right now.

Lauren has spent her career working in land management and conservation in the west, and is passionate about landscape-scale management, innovative forestry, climate mitigation, and climate resilience.

“Forest conservation is a rewarding profession. Not only is it interdisciplinary and ever changing, but I get to improve habitat for plants and wildlife, water quality, and, of course, encourage the forest to grow.”

- Lauren Fety

Ellee Igoe
Solidarity Farm
San Diego County, California

Ellee Igoe co-founded Solidarity Farm in 2012 to grow a more resilient and just food system for all. Ellee teaches young people, families, and other farmers about Solidarity Farm’s ethical farming practices and strategies to support climate resilience. She brings amazing energy and dedication to her work as a farmer, educator, and mother.

In 2020, Ellee and Solidarity Farm launched a new cooperative venture with four other local farms called “Foodshed.” Foodshed is a distribution and resource hub owned and operated by farmers with the goal of prioritizing distribution of healthy, climate-smart fruits and vegetables to San Diego County’s most marginalized communities. The Conservation Fund is proud to partner with Ellee and Solidarity Farm and support their efforts to make great food affordable and accessible to all local families.

“We got into this work because we identified the food system as a place where we needed to take action. If we don’t have control over our own ability to grow our own food, then we aren’t free to uproot the oppression that we see and make the change that we know absolutely need to make in this world. How we eat is a fundamental aspect of social change.”

- Ellee Igoe (as featured in the Foodshed Intro Video)

Magali Rojas
Nature Action Crew Leader at the Heartland Conservation Alliance 
Kansas City, Missouri 

Knowledge is power for Magali Rojas in Kansas City! We’re inspired by the dedication and passion she’s committed to making her community a greener, more equitable place. Magali works at the Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) in Kansas City, where she helps bridge the intersectionality between health and nature for the region. In addition to her role at HCA, Magali is currently earning her Environmental Justice certification at the University of Kansas. She hopes to apply this knowledge to her role at HCA and help bring environmental justice to the forefront of conservation. She also applied her passion as a volunteer at CleanAirNow KC, a nonprofit, grassroots organization that strives in teaching marginalized communities of color about the dangers of harmful air quality as it relates to their health issues.

HCA is one of our strongest partners in the Midwest, as we have very similar missions to protect natural space in a way that also benefits the surrounding community. Specifically in the Kansas City region, HCA and Magali’s work helps improves water quality, recreational opportunities, natural and cultural heritage, and more.

“As a woman in this field, I’m often afraid to fail. I fear that people will continue to poison the planet we live on and won’t work together to heal our environment. I fear that we won’t recognize the importance of inclusion for people who are not the same color skin as us. But these fears are what keep me going and allows me the opportunity to lead and invite others to do the same.”

- Magali Rojas

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.