“Billy Frank and Kathy Fletcher are personal heroes of mine,” Mike said. “I was incredibly honored to accept the Conservancy’s award on behalf of my family alongside them.” 

Mike’s lifetime of advocacy began during his young adulthood as an activist for LGBTQ rights. “As a gay man on the cusp of the AIDS epidemic, it seemed becoming an activist while juggling a career was my only future,” Mike wrote. Eventually, Mike also began to volunteer for environmental groups, and he has dedicated decades of service to both movements. 

His experiences have created an unwavering conviction that a movement is only made strong through diversity—and that strengthening any group you join through diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) work is always ongoing and never completed. At first, he felt hesitant to join TNC in Washington’s Board of Trustees, wanting to be sure he wouldn’t be another “white man of privilege.”  

However, “I knew including diverse voices brought immense strength to the LGBTQ movement,” Mike wrote about his decision to bring his skills to the board. “I expected no less when participating in the leadership of the conservation movement.” 

Mike joined TNC in Washington’s board in 2015. Before joining the board, he was a member of the Washington chapter’s Leadership Council, and as a trustee, he has served as ambassador of the Legacy Club. He also contributed to the development of the TNC in Washington’s first Equity Statement, bringing his passion for equity and diversity to the project, and he continues to advocate for these values to be brought into reality, celebrating the board’s improvements yet pushing for an ever-evolving and increasingly diverse board.   

“I was struck by the breadth of the Conservancy’s connections and its recognition that the conservation challenges we are confronted with require both ‘in-your-face’ collaboration and lifetime commitments,” Mike said while reflecting on his reasons for dedicating nearly 20 years to the Conservancy. 

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