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Building Leadership in the Environmental Movement: Education, Environmental Literacy, and Youth Engagement

Friday, November 15, 2019
10:30am - 12:30pm PST
Audubon Center at Debs Park
4700 North Griffin Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90031
Members: $0.00
Non-Members: $100.00
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In September, we witnessed perhaps the largest ever demonstration of youth leadership in the environmental movement, with global climate strikes taking place from Australia to Seattle, Paris to Los Angeles, to protest inaction on climate change. Helping to lay the groundwork, each year hundreds of thousands of students in Southern California engage in environmental education and environmental literacy programs, from classroom projects to leadership cohorts. These programs share common goals of increasing awareness, understanding, and appreciation for natural systems, and developing youth voice and perspective on the issues.

How can grantmakers continue to support and cultivate this next generation of environmental leaders? This convening will bring together multiple environmental education and leadership development programs to share stories of success and dig deeper to understand underlying themes making these programs work. We’ll also address opportunities to scale and network these initiatives in order to deepen their impact. Given the complexity and diversity of the environmental movement, this session will weave together multiple issues including environmental justice, land conservation, park access, air and water quality, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to hear short presentations from the speakers, engage in a group dialog, and split up into smaller groups for a more focused conversation. After the formal program, we invite you to continue informal conversations over lunch, which will be served.

In line with the theme of this program, the Audubon Center is itself a site for environmental education. Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to and from the center, and if desired, can spend time before or after the formal program exploring the grounds, which include a short hiking loop, a courtyard, and more.

The SCG Environmental Funders Group meets a few times a year to educate prospective and current environmental funders about environmental challenges and opportunities in Southern California as well as fostering collaboration and to share successes and challenges. Please contact Katy Pelissier at [email protected] for more information or visit the group’s page on the Southern California Grantmakers’ website.  Co-hosted by Blue Sky Funders Forum, Environmental Grantmakers Association, and Smart Growth California.


Anthony Quan

STEM Coordinator, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Anthony Quan is the STEM Coordinator with the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He brings a wealth of experience with former roles as a middle school science teacher, Teacher Education Program Manager with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Faculty Advisor (UCLA, Claremont Graduate, CSU Long Beach). He has served on several state committees including the NGSS Statewide Collaborative, CDE STEAM Symposium, CA Science Framework, CA CCSS-Math Modules, and more. He has just finished his term as President of the Southern California Association of Science Specialists.

Amy Lethbridge, PhD

Executive Director, Community Nature Connection

Amy grew up running wild through the creeks and forests of Northern California. A 1988 encounter with schoolchildren in Southern California who had never seen the ocean opened her eyes to the deficit of nature that many urban children experience and her life’s passion was found. Amy has worked for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) for over 28 years and is a Deputy Executive Officer. She serves as a pro bono Executive Director of Community Nature Connection, as she did when it was previously named the Mountains Education Program (MEP). Amy has a B.A. in Liberal Studies, a Masters in Organizational Management and a PhD in Leadership and Change and, as adjunct professor at Antioch University - Los Angeles, she was part of the academic team that developed the Masters in Urban Sustainability Degree. She recently served as the President of the National Association of Interpretation and is a Certified Interpretive Guide, Manager, and Trainer. She has trained tour guides and park/natural area managers in outdoor education and heritage interpretation in nine countries. Her very favorite thing is when she is sharing an outdoor activity with a young person and they tell her, “I saw this once on TV.”

Sol Dressa

Master’s Student, Environmental Health Science and Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles

Sol Dressa is currently a first-year master’s student in Environmental Health Science and Urban Planning. She has a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Health Promotion and Behavior. Upon graduating she worked at the Oregon Health Authority within the Environmental Health Department. Some of the concepts she is interested in include urban equity, urban sprawl, greenspace exposure and its relation to environmental health.

Cindy Montañez

Chief Executive Officer TreePeople

Cindy is a lifelong Angeleno raised in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. She began volunteering with local community organizations at the age of 12. Her love for the environment began with her family. Cindy’s mother was raised in a remote, mountainous region of Veracruz, Mexico and her father in the dry border state of Chihuahua. Her parents ignited a passion for the environment in Cindy at an early age when they pointed out environmental injustices in their neighborhood. As a family, they participated in tree plantings and, blessed them with visits to state and national parks and encouraged the kids to pursue careers in social justice.

At the age of 25, Cindy was elected as the youngest mayor and council member of her hometown of San Fernando. At 28 years old, she made history by becoming the youngest woman elected to the California State Legislature, where she became a champion for the environment, sustainable urban planning and social justice. Cindy then moved on to serve as Assistant General Manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she was a core part of the team transitioning the nation's largest publicly-owned utility to cleaner energy and a more sustainable local water supply.

Cindy is currently a Board Member for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and a Legislator In-Residence at the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.



Former State Senator Fran Pavley

Environmental Policy Director, USC Schwarzenegger Institute

Fran Pavley served 29 years in elected office. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Pavley was elected the first mayor of Agoura Hills in 1982, and served 14 years in the California Assembly and the State Senate. Former State Senator Pavley authored landmark climate policies (AB 1493, AB 32, SB 32, and others) that have created a market for innovation and investment in clean energy and vehicles, which have helped clean up our air, grow the economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As chair of the Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee, she was able to pass the state’s first sustainable Groundwater Management Act, promote policies to protect our ocean and watersheds, and adopt measures to create more sustainable local water supplies.

Prior to holding office in the State Legislature, Senator Pavley taught middle school for many years prompting her to author the Environmental Education Initiative (EEI) once in office. She is currently working as the Environmental Policy Director for the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, and serves on several state and local advisory boards and committees.




Current SCG Members: $0
Eligible Non-members: $100

Who May Attend
Current SCG, Smart Growth California, and Environmental Grantmakers Association members and eligible non-members

SCG members: Register online (you must log in to your SCG account to register)
Smart Growth California, and Environmental Grantmakers Association members contact us to request a non-member registration code
Non-members: Register online. If you do not have an SCG account, contact us to request a non-member registration code
If you have additional questions regarding these sessions, please contact us at [email protected]

Accommodations for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this activity, please contact our programs team at [email protected] or (213) 680-8866. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

Parking information:
Parking is free at the Audubon Center. If the parking lot is full, please use street parking on Griffin Ave. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Funding Issue Area & Geographic Regions