Category Archives: Heartwood

Thomas Rashad Easley, the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES), hosts the Heartwood podcast recorded on the FES campus in New Haven, Connecticut. Thomas meets with guests spanning the environmental spectrum, in pursuit of one goal: understanding how the heart impacts the woods, and the woods impact the heart.

Return of Dr. Verdolin: An Animal Biologist on how Animal Behaviors and Social Distancing are Interconnected



On this episode, Dr. Jennifer L. Verdolin returns to Heartwood, this time in the era of COVID-19. Dr. Verdolin is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona and an expert in animal behavior. The author of two books, including Wild Connection: What Animal Courtship and Mating Tell Us About Human Relationships and Raised by Animals: The Surprising New Science of Animal Family Dynamics, she draws on animal behavior to reveal how much we can learn from other species to improve our relationships, families, and lives. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, NPR, Slate, The Washington Post, and National Geographic. Jennifer was a featured guest on the D.L. Hughley Show from 2014-2018 and is a frequent media guest on other radio and podcast shows. She enjoys engaging the public and speaks at places like the 92nd St Y and universities around the country. She also consults for television production companies in the US and abroad.


The Convergence of the Built Environment, Racial Equity, and Public Health: A Conservation with Dr. Allison Mathews



Allison Mathews is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research interests include community engagement, the sociology of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, religion, HIV/AIDS, and social psychology. Her current research examines the use of crowdsourcing theory to implement community engagement activities aimed at facilitating discussion about the social and ethical aspects of curing HIV (searcHIV).

Allison Mathews’ postdoctoral work has developed the 2BeatHIV project, which is a research project focused on empowering local and global communities to shape the future of HIV cure research. The project hosts a series of crowdsourcing contests that encourage community members to use art, technology, and music to develop HIV cure marketing campaigns (see 2BeatHIV.org for more info). The project has reached over 1000 people at in-person events and over 350K unique users online. 2BeatHIV has also received local and national media attention, including volunteer interviews with Viola Davis, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Bun B from UGK, Shirley Ceasar, David and Tamela Mann, Johnny Gill, and a host of Radio One Raleigh radio personalities.

She was a Humphreys Fellow and earned her PhD in Sociology in 2015 at UNC Chapel Hill. Her dissertation research focused on the role that stigma attached to being Black and gay played in Black gay men’s strategies to manage identity conflict while maintaining connections to churches. Allison was inducted into the Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Honor Sociology in 2013 for her service to the local community and university and received the Everett K. Wilson Graduate Student Teaching Award in 2014 for her excellence in teaching.


“We can’t protect the environment until we get DEI right.” – Marcelo Banta of J.E.D.I. Heart



Marcelo Banta was originally trained as a conservation biologist, and ended up shifting his career focus from biodiversity to people diversity after finding himself as the sole programmatic person of color at a national conservation organization. That experience was so bad that he didn’t want anything to do with the environmental movement ever again. However, he realized he could not abandon what he loved—those cute little puffy baby piping plovers and all my brothers and sisters having oppressive experiences with environmental organizations. Since the environmental movement could not be successful and sustainable until it got this J.E.D.I. thing right, he went all in. His experiences led him to co-create the Center for Diversity & the Environment, which he ran for a decade, providing transformational trainings for thousands of leaders and organizational change processes for dozens of institutions. He also co-founded the Environmental Professionals of Color, a network for leaders of color to survive, thrive, lead, and innovate.


When Black Folks live in, persist through, and thrive in nature— Outdoor Afro Founder Rue Mapp



Rue Mapp is the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national not-for-profit organization with offices in Oakland, CA, and Washington, D.C. Rue oversees a carefully selected and trained national volunteer leadership team of nearly 90 men and women who represent 30 states around the US, and shares opportunities to build a broader community and leadership in nature. Her important work has generated widespread national recognition and support. Since Outdoor Afro’s inception in 2009 as a blog, Rue has captured the attention and support of millions through a multimedia approach that is grounded in personal connections and community organizing. From its grassroots beginning, Outdoor Afro now enjoys national sponsorship and is recognized by major organizations for its role in addressing the ongoing need for greater diversity in the outdoors. In 2010, Mapp was invited to the Obama White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment to oversee its grant-making program from 2010-2012. Since that time, Mapp’s work and op-eds have been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Backpacker Magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, Ebony Magazine, Outside Magazine, Sunset Magazine, NPR, and many others. Rue’s work has also been recognized with numerous awards and distinctions, including: The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans in the country (2012 and 2016), Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, National Wildlife Federation Communication award (received alongside President Bill Clinton) and Family Circle Magazine selected Rue as one of America’s 20 Most Influential Moms. Mapp remains in high demand to speak around the country and in Canada about her innovative approach that has successfully connected thousands, especially from the Black American community, to nature and the benefits of spending more time outdoors. She is proud to serve on the Outdoor Industry Association and The Wilderness Society boards. In 2014, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown. She was named a National Geographic fellow, and a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated. In 2020, Outdoor Afro was chosen to be highlighted and visited by Oprah on her 2020 Vision Tour. Check out details here. A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the leadership and programs she has instituted through her career, enlightening a diverse community to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors. Rue resides in Vallejo, CA and is the proud mother of three young adults. Want more insight on Rue? Visit www.ruemapp.com.


5. Hip Hop Kings and Environmental Professionals: Miles Braxton on Entrepreneurship and Sustainability



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First there was one hip hop professional on the Heartwood podcast, then there were two. Miles Braxton is a Business Development Analyst for Sol Customer Solutions, an energy solutions firm in Washington DC. In his work, Miles helps to investigate and engage potential clients in emerging solar markets, in addition to creating preliminary solar array designs for proposals. Miles graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Environmental Science. At U.Va., he founded and led an organization, Black Leaders for Environmental Sustainability (BLES), that works to install interactive solar charging stations around campus grounds and encourages minority students to increase their sustainability awareness and efforts. Miles came to FES this fall with a presentation called “Young, Gifted and Black” where he talked about building inspiration by combining entrepreneurship and sustainability. He talks in this episode about his own origin story in the energy space, future directions in the field, and drops some bars to wrap it all together.


4. Live at Yale-Myers: Finding the Heart in Forestry with Rachel Reyna



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Recorded live on site at Yale-Myers Forest in northeastern Connecticut, Thomas Easley sits down with Rachel Reyna, chief of Rural and Community Forestry at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry, and recent recipient of the Mira Lloyd Dock Outstanding Woman Conservationist Award. Rachel discusses adaptive management and the necessity for awareness of the different constraints and histories among certain stakeholder groups in her work. As a forestry professional, Reyna works to create a vision of forestry that connects and appeals to a broad constituency.


3. Breaking Open Our Seeds of Growth: CJ Goulding on the Necessity of Discomfort



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CJ Goulding, Partner at the Avarna Group and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) professional, joins Heartwood to share reflections on his work spent fostering discomfort for personal and community growth in both traditional and outdoor-oriented communities. In his work with the Children & Nature Network and Fresh Tracks, CJ trains, mentors and supports a national network of over 330 leaders who are changing systems and creating equitable access to nature in their communities. This work draws from experience leading outdoor trips, conservation crews, and youth internship programs for the National Park Service. CJ has a deep reservoir of self-awareness and shares insights on opportunities and barriers to understanding when it comes to inclusion work, and is committed to helping his clients and community break through their own perceptions in order to grow.


2. Seeing the Foresters for the Trees: Terry Baker and new pathways at the Society of American Foresters



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Thomas Easley sits down with Terry Baker, CEO of the Society of American Foresters, and an alumnus of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Terry lives by a mantra–give people the ability to see the foresters for the trees. By that, he means, help folks recognize how much around them is made possible by dedicated forestry professionals who are doing work to make our world more liveable. In Terry’s words, “A professional forester was easily defined 100 years ago. Nowadays, as a profession, we’re extremely fragmented and highly specific.” Terry has a reputation for being a leader who values relationships, a leader who listens, and a leader who takes action. He has experience in building partnerships and strategic alliances to leverage outcomes and is expanding relationships with key partners and stakeholders to strengthen SAF’s voice and advance the profession as well as the members. In this conversation, Terry shares insights on providing a space for every forester who manages vegetation in both urban and rural locations without diluting the historic mission of the organization.


1. The Kids are Alright: Building an Environmental Ethic in New Haven’s Young People



The second season of Heartwood kicks off with a conversation that reminds us that everything starts with the next generation. Dr. Thomas Easley sits with participants and leadership at Solar Youth, a local nonprofit that engages young people in New Haven to explore their neighborhoods and local environments with an emphasis on leadership. First, you’ll hear from Yexandra Diaz, Site Coordinator at Solar Youth, who has lived in New Haven for much of her life, and leads the students through programming. Listen to every word Yexandra says, particularly her words about New Haven, Connecticut. Whether it’s about white fragility, savior mentality, or pitfalls in nonprofit leadership, Yex speaks truth to power about what New Haven needs to succeed. If you stick around to the end, you’ll hear from the youth who benefit from this program, and all these qualities that make them so brilliant, from their jokes to their insights about why these programs matter.


8. (LIVE) Real Talk with Yale’s Diversity and Inclusion Professionals: Representatives from across the campus share lessons, frustrations, and opportunities



Taryn Wolf is the Director of Academic Administration at the Yale School of Art. Taryn joined the Yale School of Art in February, coming from the New School where she was senior director of recruitment and outreach. Before that she held positions at MICA, CalArts, and the School of Visual Arts. Taryn also holds a BFA from MICA. In her new role, Taryn will provide strategic leadership for the Office of Academic Administration—working with the directors of the school’s graduate and undergraduate program areas and the director of finance and administration in order to coordinate the administrative activities relating to the academic policies, procedures, and programs of the School of Art, including alumni relations and student career services.

Darin Latimore is the Deputy Dean and Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (General Medicine) at the Yale School of Medicine. Prior to Yale, Darin served as the associate dean for student and resident diversity at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, where he oversaw medical student and resident diversity programs. He developed initiatives to increase the pipeline of socio-economically disadvantaged students, residents, and faculty and has spearheaded programs to support and empower underrepresented students who are interested in attending medical school.

At UC Davis, Latimore helped expand the definition of diversity beyond African-American, Hispanic, and Native American individuals to include underrepresented Asian-American groups and individuals who are economically disadvantaged. Today, approximately 43% of UC Davis medical students fall into one of these categories. He has served as chair or an active member on numerous committees, task forces, and local, state and national working groups dedicated to diversity, equal opportunity, and medical education. He also maintains a clinical practice caring for patients with HIV/AIDS at the Center of AIDS Research, Education, and Services.

Chantal Rodriguez is the Associate Dean of Yale School of Drama. She served as Assistant Dean of the school for the 2016-2017 academic year. From 2009-2016 she worked as the Programming Director and Literary Manager of the Latino Theater Company, operators of the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC), a multi-theater complex in downtown L.A. At the LATC, she helped produce many seasons of culturally diverse work including the historic Encuentro 2014 festival. As a scholar with a specialization in U.S. Latinx Theater, she has lectured at the University of California Los Angeles, Emerson College Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, California State University at Northridge, and California Institute for the Arts. Her work has been published in Theatre Journal, Latin American Theatre Review, e-misférica and Theatre Research International. In 2011, the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press published her monograph, “The Latino Theatre Initiative/Center Theatre Group Papers,” which was nominated for three Latino Literacy Now International Book Awards. She is an active member of the Latinx Theatre Commons Steering Committee, a recipient of the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s 2016 Rainbow Award, and was recognized as a Young Leader of Color by TCG in 2011. She is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television where she earned a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies, and Santa Clara University where she earned a B.A. in Theater and Spanish Studies.