The Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR), in conjunction with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment), today announced the appointment of Bethaney Wilkinson as its first Executive Director.

Alton Perry, SFLR Program Director, says that the network is energized by Ms. Wilkinson’s appointment. “Bethaney brings experience and enthusiasm to our mission of elevating SFLR to new heights, in creating new partnerships and greater opportunities for African American forest owners.”

SFLR is an eight-member network in the Southern U.S. dedicated to connecting African American landowners with the resources to keep their land in the family and increase its economic value. Trusted, community-based organizations with strong connections to minority families and institutions are the core of the network. These organizations sustain relationships of trust, assist and educate landowners, broker forestry services, and monitor landowner progress toward forest management.

As SFLR’s Executive Director, Ms. Wilkinson will assist in coordinating network-led activities. “I’m thrilled to be involved in cultivating the next phase of SFLR’s important work. The network’s legacy of collaboration and partnership on behalf of landowners is an incredible foundation to build on. The future is bright for the SFLR network and I can’t wait to get started,” she says.

Ms. Wilkinson is an experienced social entrepreneur, facilitator, and organizational development practitioner. She is author of The Diversity Gap: Where Good Intentions Meet True Cultural Change and hosts a podcast by the same name. She is the founder of multiple social impact efforts, including A More Beautiful Way, The Diversity Gap, Grace Dialogues, and Atlanta Harvest, dedicated for more than a decade to exploring the intersections of community, racial healing, and social change. She is also the current Experience Lead for U.S. Forest and Wood Products Inclusion Council.

Ms. Wilkinson has degrees in Education from Emory University and in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

According to Alicia Cramer, Senior Vice President of the Endowment, “Bethaney’s leadership will be key to shaping the next chapter for SFLR, as it aims to make an even greater impact on more landowners, grow the network’s geographical reach, and support communities across the South. We are excited to tap into her expertise to advance the great work of SFLR.”

About SFLR
SFLR comprises eight anchor organizations: The Black Family Land Trust; The Roanoke Center/Roanoke Cooperative; Center for Heirs Property Preservation; Limited Resource Landowner Education and Assistance Network (LRLEAN); McIntosh Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (S.E.E.D.); Winston County Self-Help Cooperative; The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and Prairie View A&M University.

SFLR was launched in 2012 with assistance from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the USDA Forest Service. Their goal is to help rural Black landowners address heirs’ property and land retention issues and understand the value of responsibly managing forest land. Since then, additional supporters focused on redressing Black land loss have included the American Forest Foundation, Inc., JPB Foundation, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and Doris Duke Foundation.

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About the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities
The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities.

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