Seeking Local Nominees – 7th Annual Environmental Leader in Residence

Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center is seeking nominations for our 7th Annual Environmental Leader in Residence. The residency is planned for a week in April 2020 (starting March 30, April 7, or April 20), with some flexibility based on the leader’s preference and availability.

Leah Penniman, Common Ground’s 2016 Environmental Leader in Residence, is the co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, author of Farming While Black, and an environmental science educator. Photo Credit: Mel Morales.

For 2020, we are seeking nominees from Greater New Haven — out of a desire to recognize and learn from leadership in our own community, after a number of years of welcoming and celebrating leaders from beyond New Haven. 

The deadline for nominations is Thursday, January 9, 2020. Read more below, and then nominate a leader. Self-nominations are welcomed.

Past leaders in residence have included:

Hiram Rivera, our 2017 Leader in Residence, helped students organize around improving Common Ground’s curriculum and partnered with members of our community to create a mural.

For 2020, we will only consider nominees from Greater New Haven. Moving forward, we anticipate alternating years in which we welcome local leaders, and years in which we welcome nominees from beyond our immediate community. 

We are explicitly committed to building a new, more racially and culturally inclusive generation of environmental leaders, and particularly value applications from people of color leaders. We are also interested in considering nominees who are young people, and who are members of LGBTQ communities.

We invite nominations of powerful environmental leaders, who have:

  • The ability to build community, communication, and understanding among young people, teachers, farm staff, environmental educators, and other Common Ground staff — and among members of the Common Ground community and the families and individuals who make up the larger New Haven community. 
  • Strong commitment to and background in social justice, racial justice, equity, and inclusiveness work — and who can make the connections between this work and environmental issues.
  • Experience in environmental justice, environmental education, outdoor education, or related fields, with a particular focus on work in multi-racial and urban settings.
  • Youth leadership, youth development, education, and facilitation background, expertise, and commitment.
  • Charismatic, positive, warm presence — able to make connections and build community with young people and adults.
  • Honesty, passion, courage, risk-taking, a powerful voice.
  • A set of experiences that are inspiring and relatable for young people and adults, and a willingness to share those experiences.
  • Something unique to contribute, which can help shape the residency and engage community: work as an artist, a wellness/healing practice, etc.

At Common Ground, we define the environment and environmental leadership broadly — not just trees, air, land, wild animals, and water, but people and the human environment as well.

The Leader in Residence’s Role

During the week of their residency, the Environmental Leader in Residence would:

  • Connect with, inspire, challenge, support, and learn with members of our community in a variety of ways.
  • Sit in on classes, enjoy school lunch, join in after-school programs, and participate in life at Common Ground.
  • Help to lead a workshop or professional development opportunity for Common Ground staff.
  • Provide input and advice on key Common Ground change efforts and priorities — including community-building and culture, efforts to live into our environmental justice mission, and building healthy, authentic relationships with our neighbors in New Haven.
  • Be the featured speaker at a school-wide POWER assembly at Common Ground.
  • Engage with members from the broader New Haven community and/or peer schools through an event that the environmental leader in residence helps to define.
  • Meet with small groups of students, board members, staff, community partners informally to share experiences and offer advice — including over meals.
  • Meet informally with Common Ground’s environmental education staff, who run our children’s and community programs.
  • Write a reflection — blog post, letter to Common Ground — providing feedback and observations on the experience of being an environmental leader in residence.
  • Create a ripple effect and impact that goes well beyond the residency — leaving something lasting behind in our community. 

The plan for the residency is co-created by the leader and a team of staff and students in February and March, once the leader in selected.

To support the residency, Common Ground can offer a $2,500 honorarium, and reimbursement for incidental expenses connected to the experiences described above.

Selection Process

Nominations will be reviewed by a team of staff and students, who will narrow down nominees, conduct phone or face to face interviews of the top 2-3 candidates (planned for the week of January 20 or 27), and create a ballot of candidates on which all Common Ground students and staff will vote.

Nominate a leader >>


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