A Discussion with Black Environmental Industry Professionals

Watch the Webinar Recording:

In this virtual webinar, we were thrilled to provide the space led by and for Black environmental professionals to share their work and amplify the visibility of the Black community in the environment to the next generation. Our incredible panelists joined us from throughout NYC and the Hudson Valley and shared their professional journeys across the environmental field, from education, to research, to development and communications.

Megan Lung, Hudson River Estuary Program Environmental Analyst/NEIWPCC

Megan is an environmental analyst with NEIWPCC working on behalf of the Hudson River and its tributaries with the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. Megan focuses on restoring habitat for migratory fish and wildlife, and increasing climate resiliency for communities by removing aquatic barriers such as dams and culverts. She provides technical assistance and training to municipalities, soil and water districts, non-profits, and anyone interested in the nexus between human infrastructure and the natural world. Megan earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and History.

Tanasia Swift, Field Station Program Manager at The Billion Oyster Project

Tanasia Swift is a marine educator from Brooklyn, NY. She works at the Billion Oyster Project as the Field Stations Program Manager, where she facilitates outdoor programs at local oyster reefs throughout the city. Tanasia is also an ambassador for Girls That Scuba, a core member at Superhero Clubhouse, and the Founder of Water Women NYC.

Benita Law-Diao, Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardner, Patroon Creek Greenway Feasibility Study Community Liaison

Benita retired from the NYS Dept. of Health after 32 years as a NYS licensed Dietitian/Public Health Dietitian, Contract Manager and Program Research Specialist. Throughout her career she has engaged in sustainable agriculture, food security, environmental justice and climate change issues. Currently, she is an Outdoor Afro leader, a Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, a Community Liaison for the Patroon Creek Greenway Feasibility Study, a Focus Group Coordinator for the Underground Railroad Education Center’s Youth Abolitionist Leadership Institute, and is a member of the Albany Riverfront Collaborative and the Northeastern States Research Cooperative. She currently serves on 5 Boards: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County, the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, John Brown Lives!, the Adirondack Mountain Club and the Adirondack Experience Museum.

Jerome Cunningham, Development and Communications Associate at Groundwork Hudson Valley

Since 2015, Jerome has worked as the Youth Engagement Operations Program Coordinator at The Nature Conservancy, where he oversaw a nationwide environmental school grant program, managing a database of grantees, organizing site visits, crafting bi-monthly newsletters, and leading garden build events for over 130,000 school children across the country.

Before joining Groundwork, Jerome honed his environmental skills through multiple internships with the Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy, where he focused on both traditional conservation practices such as GIS mapping, kiosk modeling, and invasive species management along with donor communications, social media, marketing, and philanthropy. Throughout his career, he has worked to connect his passion for nature with his creativity as a spoken word artist, while simultaneously managing complex projects that serve to protect and build a more sustainable world. Jerome is currently serving as a Regional Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program, a highly selective program that supports visionary, action-oriented, and diverse leadership for a sustainable future by providing emerging leaders with the support and guidance they need to launch new endeavors and rise to new leadership positions.

Jerome is a graduate of CUNY’s City College of New York, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Advertising, and Public Relations. Jerome is a self-proclaimed ‘Harlemite’, born and raised in the Sugar Hill district.

Zoraida Lopez-Diago, Program Director at Scenic Hudson’s River Cities Program

Zoraida Lopez-Diago is the Program Director at Scenic Hudson’s River Cities Program where she and her team work with community partners to help build an environmentally healthy, economically vibrant region that reflects the needs of all its citizens, with a particular focus on the river cities of Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and Kingston. Prior to working at Scenic Hudson, Zoraida was a consultant at Columbia University’s Institute for African American Studies, where she helped create and build programs from the ground up. Zoraida is also a co-founder of Conservationists of Color,  a national affinity group that was established to change the face of leadership of the environmental movement so that it represents the diversity and richness of the communities land trusts serve.