Catherine Game (MS ’10)
Catherine Game (MS ’10)
Executive Director: Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
What did it mean to you to be named a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow? What were some of the activities and opportunities that held the greatest impact for you?
The Doris Duke Fellows program was an extremely valuable experience for me. The leadership training program was such an incredible opportunity to learn with and from peers. I was very early in my career. Engaging with colleagues and instructors with more experience improved both my confidence and my understanding of what makes effective leadership. Particularly, I learned the importance of being nimble, prioritizing trust and relationship-building, and facilitating data-driven work, all of which has been enormously helpful in my career path.
The fellowship also enabled me to take an unpaid internship with an arts, environment, and social justice organization in Chicago. This was during the peak of the economic recession; paid internships were difficult to find, let alone with a small nonprofit. But that experience really opened a path for me to work in the Chicago region, where I’ve thrived for the past 12 years.
Can you tell us about your SEAS experience? How did it help you advance in the conservation field?
My SEAS experience was a game changer. My undergraduate institution did not have an environmental studies major at that time, and the opportunity to study environmental issues in SEAS’ master’s program—and particularly the area that I was interested in (behavior, education and communication)—was so exciting. I was enthralled by the content of the courses and the opportunity to engage in inquisitive, passionate conversations with fellow students and mentors, many of whom continue to deeply influence and inspire me today. The knowledge I acquired from the academic program, combined with the relationships cultivated during my master’s project, are still very valuable in my work as executive director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.
What kind of changes have you observed in land conservation in the U.S. over the course of your career?
I feel hopeful for the field of conservation for two reasons. First, conservation is finally more widely recognizing and reconciling its embedded racism and colonialism, thanks to some incredible leaders in the field. And second, I find great hope in the immense opportunity that exists for healing both people and the planet by embracing intersectionality; by striving to achieve the mutually beneficial goals of social justice, environmental justice, anti-racism, health equity, climate, and conservation. Although there is much work to be done, awareness of the interconnected relationship of these issues (and so many more!) has greatly increased over the last 10 years, and is driving solutions that are more equitable and community-driven.
Note: Prior to 2017, the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) was known as the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). References to “SNRE” have been updated to “SEAS” to reflect the name change.