Seeking Nominees – 8th Annual Environmental Leader in Residence

Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center are seeking nominations for our 8th Annual Environmental Leader in Residence. The residency will start in April 2021 with some flexibility based on the leader’s preference and availability.

Leah Penniman, Common Ground’s 2016 Environmental Leader in Residence, is the co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, and author of Farming While Black.

For 2021, we are seeking nominees from throughout the United State. Due to Covid restrictions, this placement will be partly or fully remote, with some opportunities for in-person connections. The Leader in Residence will spend the equivalent of a week (approximately 30 hours of structured experiences) engaging with the Common Ground community, starting in April 2021 and continuing through the Spring and Fall, based on the leader’s availability and Common Ground’s schedule. This creates a unique opportunity for the Common Ground community to work with Leaders that may otherwise not be available. 

The deadline for nominations is extended to Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Below you will find reflections from previous Leaders, along with details about the residency. After exploring the details below please nominate a leader. Self-nominations are welcomed.

Past leaders in residence have included:

Hiram Rivera, our 2017 Leader in Residence, helped students organize around improving Common Ground’s curriculum and partnered with members of our community to create a mural.

We are explicitly committed to building a new, more racially and culturally inclusive generation of environmental leaders, and particularly value applications from people of color leaders. We are also interested in considering nominees who are young people, and who are members of LGBTQ communities.

We invite nominations of powerful environmental leaders, who have:

  • Strong commitment to and background in social justice, racial justice, equity, and inclusiveness work — and who can make the connections between this work and environmental issues.
  • Youth leadership, youth development, education, and facilitation background, expertise, and commitment.
  • Charismatic, positive, warm presence — able to make connections and build community with young people and adults.
  • Honesty, passion, courage, risk-taking, a powerful voice.
  • The ability to build community, communication, and understanding among young people, teachers, farm staff, environmental educators, and other Common Ground staff — and among members of the Common Ground community and the families and individuals who make up the larger New Haven community. 
  • Something unique to contribute, which can help shape the residency and engage the community: work as an artist, a wellness/healing practice, etc.
  • A set of experiences that are inspiring and relatable for young people and adults, and a willingness to share those experiences.
  • Experience in environmental justice, environmental education, outdoor education, or related fields, with a particular focus on work in multi-racial and urban settings.

At Common Ground, we define the environment and environmental leadership broadly — not just trees, air, land, wild animals, and water, but people and the human environment as well.

The Leader in Residence’s Role

During their residency, the Environmental Leader in Residence would:

  • Participate in life at Common Ground, virtually and in-person as possible;  attend school-wide events, join classes; visit the farm and engage in community programs.
  • Help to lead a workshop or professional development opportunity for Common Ground staff.
  • Provide input and advice on key Common Ground change efforts and priorities — including community-building and culture, efforts to live into our environmental justice mission, and building healthy, authentic relationships with our neighbors in New Haven.
  • Write a reflection — blog post, letter to Common Ground — providing feedback and observations on the experience of being an environmental leader in residence.
  • Create a ripple effect and impact that goes well beyond the residency — leaving something lasting behind in our community.
  • Engage with members from the broader New Haven community and/or peer schools through an event that the environmental leader in residence helps to define.
  • Be the featured speaker at a school-wide POWER assembly at Common Ground.
  • Connect with, inspire, challenge, support, and learn with members of our community in a variety of ways.
  • Meet informally with Common Ground’s environmental education staff, who run our children’s and community programs.
  • Meet with small groups of students, board members, staff, community partners informally to share experiences and offer advice — including over meals.

The plan for the residency is co-created by the leader and a team of staff and students, once the leader is selected.

To support the residency, Common Ground can offer a $2,500 honorarium, and reimbursement for incidental expenses connected to the experiences described above.

Selection Process

Nominations will be reviewed by a team of staff and students, who will narrow down nominees, conduct phone or virtual interviews of the top 2-3 candidates (planned for the week of March 17-24th), and create a ballot of candidates on which all Common Ground students and staff will vote.

Nominate a leader >>


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