By Tamara Toles O’Laughlin
It is with gratitude and every other kind of emotion that I reach out to you as I conclude my board service with the District Chapter of Ecowomen. In the six or so years since I returned to Washington D.C. to pursue another chapter of my career, to marry, and make friends in a new city I have been rewarded. I have taken part in so many great conversations with leaders across the field, enjoyed opportunities to grow my leadership in ways that no single job could offer, and have helped to guide the evolution of our “moose lodge for women” where we have explored ideas for how working life balance may be made to meet the needs of modernity. And I have blogged about so much of it.
In my board service terms’, I have been fortunate to have worn a few hats. As a member of the professional development team, I supported two years of Ecohours, Mentor Dinners, and special programs that are a part of the forty program offerings each year put on by your chapter of volunteer board members. Next, I held the position of vice president of professional development where I focused on revamping the organization’s signature salon and monthly educational forum—Ecohour. During my tenure the professional development team changed the format, of our salon, from a lecture program to a fireside chat style and worked hard to add some humor, accessibility and humanity to the offering. In those years, I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty or so Ecohours where I engaged in one hundred eighty hours of preparation for twenty hours of interviews, dialogue and discussion with women who are reshaping the world of work for women in the environment in the District.
In the last two years, April Martin and I joined forces to lead our chapter as a co-chairs. This was an intervention to the tradition of one woman as a single source of leadership and guidance as an experiment in governance based on our experiences in the chapter. I can say without hesitation that it has been a sincere pleasure to try on each of these roles and to continue to advance my personal mission and life work in this space—the meaningful engagement of women in the environment across, race, class and ability as partners, champions and principals.
Our work at Ecowomen has resulted in the intentional inclusion of black, indigenous, and women of color who have been thought leaders in environment and conservation, non-governmental organizations, federal agencies and start-ups. In my oversight of the salon we set goals for and provided real time demonstrations of the ways that the work of black, indigenous and all women of color is always present. And with intention provided a space to reflect with agents of change, in a public dialogue on the many ways our shared work has been made invisible as the status quo.
If I could do anything differently, I might have tried to organize a space where our community could more explicitly examine the role of a feminist practice in our work; and programmed for reflections on the ways that racialized dynamics are heightened amongst women who should be allies and often don’t quite make it. As I leave the chapter, but not this deeper work and conversation, I look forward to seeing what the new leaders, the board members, President and what each of you bring to this discussion and to our shared goals to create an equitable and healthy society where we live, work, and exist as Ecowomen.
Thank you for taking the time to connect over the last six years, to add your energy and talents to the building and rebuilding of this community. Thank you to the women on the board from 2013 to the present day who work consistently and constantly to make Ecowomen a space where good things are made to happen for and with women.
As I leave the District chapter, I have been thinking a lot about the dormant Baltimore City chapter and what I might bring to it as I make my home there. In the meantime, I will continue in my day job as the North America Director at 350.org and hope to see you in it as Ecowomen and as fellow humans in adult and aging ally response to the youth call for climate action on September 20-27, 2019. It looks to be the largest global climate mobilization to date and will be followed by a week of action that will only strengthen the work of our lives to protect people and planet.
Feel free to reach out to me directly If you ever want to talk. And do sign up today to get involved in the climate mobilization which is already supported by partners including the Women’s March and 500 women in Science among others.
Tamara Toles O’Laughlin