Peace, Love, and Blue Skies!

    June 8, 2018
    by Angie Chen

    After four years of serving as Blue Sky’s founding executive director, I’m transitioning out of my role this month. Our board has launched a search for Blue Sky’s new leader, and I’m excited to watch the organization and our community continue to grow.

    I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to launch Blue Sky and to partner with so many of you to increase equitable access to opportunities to learn, play, and grow outdoors. And I hope that some of you have had as much fun as I did along the way!

    Under the leadership of the Pisces Foundation and the George B. Storer Foundation, a small group of funders and partners worked with the Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), to create Blue Sky in 2014. We wanted to highlight the importance of environmental literacy and connecting people and nature and to inspire more support for the learning experiences that influence people to enjoy the outdoors, understand their role in stewarding the environment, and take action to create healthy communities. An additional ten members joined us that first year, and I’m thrilled that we have now grown to a collaborative network of more than 30 funders across the country.

    From the beginning, Blue Sky made it a priority to authentically and respectfully learn and work together with field leaders. To ensure that we were not an echo chamber, our board invited 16 nonprofit and academic leaders to provide guidance and perspective to us as we shape our work. It has been an honor and a privilege to learn from these advisors and to collaborate with them to build the field.

    Over the past four years, we have convened funders and partners alongside EGA and our nonprofit partners in Albuquerque, NM; Austin, TX; Jackson, WY; Miami, FL; St. Paul, MN; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; Vancouver, Canada; Washington, DC; and most recently here in Blue Sky’s hometown of Oakland, CA. These convenings have grown to become energizing spaces for our community to build relationships, activate collaboration, and learn from inspiring speakers (with some pretty rad walk-up songs!). We have also fostered partnerships with the public sector to strengthen support for programs and policies that connect people and nature, and it has been awesome to work alongside mayors, members of Congress, and even a First Lady! 

    At a time of divisiveness, the outdoors is unifying. We all need opportunities to learn, play, and grow outdoors. Last year, Blue Sky’s board officially launched our shared narrative initiative in partnership with a task force of nonprofit and corporate leaders. I’m confident that this collaborative effort will advance a broad coalition that increases equitable access to outdoor experiences and leads to positive conservation, education, health, social justice, and youth development impacts in all communities.

    Blue Sky’s work would not be possible without many leaders, thinkers, partners, and visionaries. I am filled with respect and gratitude for Blue Sky’s board, leadership council, and advisors, and for my colleagues at EGA. Their inspiring commitment to this work and to this community will carry Blue Sky into this new chapter.



    Angie Chen is the founding executive director of the Blue Sky Funders Forum.


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