Leadership Academy

Our Goal

To find, educate, develop and encourage environmental stewards to care for our public lands and to advocate for the protection and enhancement of our mountains, forests, rivers, parks, and urban open spaces.

Our Work

The Leadership Academy is a long term training program that focuses on developing organizing and advocacy skills, civic engagement, and local community action. Established in 2011, the Leadership Academy has thus far, graduated 16 cohorts and a total of 195 individuals. This hands-on training program is focused in low- income and underserved communities, in order to develop diverse environmental leaders. Our curriculum combines direct experience from coalition members and partners on a variety of topics, including direct advocacy, power analysis, public speaking, community organizing and other related topics. Throughout the academy, participants establish relationships among coalition members, partners, and other current environmental leaders, who then support participants through direct mentorship, employment, volunteering, and networking opportunities. Through the academy, participants will be invited to apply for funding (upto $1000) to create a project that furthers our mission to Protect, Create and Connect. Thus far, over 90 community projects have been completed through the leadership academy, and a hand full of these projects continue to be hosted by graduates today. These projects include river restoration projects, Art restoration and improvement projects, ongoing hikes in low income and underserved communities, and many more.  Upon completion of the training and an engaging community project, participants are stipend $500 for their participation.


Our Progress

Since 2011, the Leadership Academy has graduated over 195 participants, who have self identified as:

  • 76% identify as Low-income
  • 68% identify as Women
  • 57% identify as Latino
  • 89% identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

Academy graduates have successfully executed 90+ community engagement projects around Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, and in the San Fernando Valley. Projects have included leading educational bike tours of the watershed area; organizing community workshops to raise awareness on protecting public lands among park-poor communities; and painting trash receptacles along the West and East forks of the San Gabriel River.

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Read more about Leadership Academy projects.

Our Graduates

Fifteen graduates have traveled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the San Gabriel Mountains and Rivers on behalf of their community. Some of our graduates continue to stay involved with Nature for All by joining our Stewards group.

More than one-fifth of graduates have landed employment with environmental and community organizations, including Nature For All, the California Conservation Corps., the U.S. Forest Service, and the City of Claremont. Many more serve as volunteers at organizations working on local environmental conservation.

Winter/Spring 2020 Leadership Academy

The applications for Cohort 17 are now OPEN! Deadline to submit applications is Dec. 13th, 2019

Leadership Academy sessions will take place in San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles on the following days. Participants will be expected to attend all sessions. Attendance of 80% (9 out of the 12) classes and completion of a community project are required , in order to receive a $500 award of completion of the academy. Participants will be given advanced notice of any changes to the session schedule and locations. Below are dates and pending locations for this cohort.

Leadership Academy sessions:

  1. Sunday, Jan. 12: Orientation ( 8 – 3:00pm)
  2. Wed, Jan. 22 5:30 – 8:30pm
  3. Wed, Feb. 5 5:30 – 8:30pm
  4. Wed, Feb. 19 5:30 – 8:30pm
  5. Sat, Feb. 29 9am – 12pm
  6. Wed, March 4 5:30 – 8:30pm
  7. Wed, March 18 5:30 – 8:30pm
  8. Sat, March 28 9 – 12pm
  9. Wed, April 1 5:30 – 8:30pm
  10. Wed, April 15 5:30 – 8:30pm
  11. Sat, April 25 9am – 12pm
  12. Wed, April 29 5:30-8:30pm
  13. Wednesday, May 13: Graduation (6 pm-8:30pm)

Winter – Spring 2020 Cohort 17 dates will be as follows. Locations are still pending and will be confirmed along with acceptance into the program. If you will be able to participate in the dates mentioned above and interested in applying, please APPLY BELOW:

“I was surprised at the level of achievement I felt after completing my project and the Leadership Academy program. It felt so good to successfully complete both. And the impact it has made on my life was a surprise — it keeps on giving.” —Leadership Academy Graduate Megan Devine

Read interviews with Leadership Academy graduates.

Check out our graduates who have made the headlines:

Carolyn Jones from cohort 14 was featured in USC Story Space

Araceli Hernandez featured on LA Daily News for their Academy project: 818Hikes

Joel Glen and Christina Harrington create pictorial messages for Trump: Leave San Gabriel Mountains monument alone

Dorothy Wong elected to Altadena Town Council

Brian Velez talks to local leaders about the National Monument Executive Order Review

Amy Wong wins inaugural National Forest Foundation San Gabriel Mountains National Monument blog contest

Janet Valenzuela selected for Shift Emerging Leaders 2016

Maricela Rosales selected for Shift Emerging Leaders 2017

Bonnie Rodriguez guest blogs on The Wilderness Society

Nancy Verdin featured in Latino Outdoors for her conservation advocacy

Meg Devine’s Convert-A-Can project profiled in USFS report

Ryan Farmer featured on Skate Slate for his skateboarding skills and San Gabriel Mountains conservation

Elias Salgado builds meditation labyrinth at Centery Villages at Cabrillo inspired by Leadership Academy training

Contact Us

Questions about the Leadership Academy? Contact us at Araceli@lanatureforall.org.