In the middle of February 2017, several Greening Forward all-stars gathered in Atlanta, Georgia to celebrate the 9 years of student voice and leadership put into action. Before the glamor of a rooftop penthouse for the venue or the reflection of countless memories through a documentary, I had an honest discussion about the future of Greening Forward with the founder in December of 2016.
I have known Charles Orgbon III since I hired him in the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Young Scholars Program in 2013. By the end of Young Scholars, Charles and I continued to stay in touch and I was eventually added to his list of mentors concerning Greening Forward. After being aware that Charles was graduating from the University of Georgia, talks of transition was necessary to keep Greening Forward thriving for the next 9 years. I was unaware if I would attend Greening Forward’s “end” or “beginning” in February but I desired to do whatever I could to keep the dream a reality.
To help with leadership transition, I decided to serve as Interim President and CEO of Greening Forward. Once I met with the movers and shakers of the organization, I presented a proposal; to pursue financial opportunities through grants and programs, improve internal structure of the organization, and hire the next President and CEO of Greening Forward. Over a six-month period, Greening Forward increased its funding source through the LUSH Grant and the partnership with the Captain Planet Foundation to plan and execute the 2017 Youth Summit of the Green Schools Conference & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. Through one-on-one interviews with experienced staff and fresh perspectives from newer staff, I was able to implement structural changes through agenda-setting strategies, greater transparency within the organization, and matching skillsets with strengths. My greatest accomplishment was hiring the next President and CEO. Approximately 100 applicants applied nationally and abroad for the coveted position and only 3 applicants were selected for an interview.
Through unanimous decision, Robert Walton was selected as the next President and CEO of Greening Forward. I am so proud that we were successfully able to find Robert among so many candidates because his quality and vision for Greening Forward is what is vital to propel us to our next journey. I have confidence that Robert will build from the foundation and momentum by the previous CEOs. Greening Forward has also challenged me to serve in a different way within the organization. Thus, I founded the Greening Forward Advisory Committee and the future launch of the Greening Forward Alumni Association. As I work in different areas within the organization, Robert continues to lead with innovation and new ideas. He is my best investment in Greening Forward’s future and I look forward to seeing his impact in one of the greatest organizations by the youth, for the youth, to empower the youth.
GREEN sCHOOLS coNFERENCE AND exposition Youth Summit
Greening Forward had the opportunity to help run the Youth Summit portion of the U.S. Green Building Council's annual Green Schools Conference and Expo. Over the span of two days, presenters involved in many areas of the environmental movement helped students find their voice to stand up and speak out!