Rue Mapp is the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national not-for-profit organization with offices in Oakland, CA, and Washington, D.C. Rue oversees a carefully selected and trained national volunteer leadership team of nearly 90 men and women who represent 30 states around the US, and shares opportunities to build a broader community and leadership in nature. Her important work has generated widespread national recognition and support. Since Outdoor Afro’s inception in 2009 as a blog, Rue has captured the attention and support of millions through a multimedia approach that is grounded in personal connections and community organizing. From its grassroots beginning, Outdoor Afro now enjoys national sponsorship and is recognized by major organizations for its role in addressing the ongoing need for greater diversity in the outdoors. In 2010, Mapp was invited to the Obama White House to participate in America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment to oversee its grant-making program from 2010-2012. Since that time, Mapp’s work and op-eds have been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Backpacker Magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, Ebony Magazine, Outside Magazine, Sunset Magazine, NPR, and many others. Rue’s work has also been recognized with numerous awards and distinctions, including The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans in the country (2012 and 2016), Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, National Wildlife Federation Communication award (received alongside President Bill Clinton) and Family Circle Magazine selected Rue as one of America’s 20 Most Influential Moms. Mapp remains in high demand to speak around the country and in Canada about her innovative approach that has successfully connected thousands, especially from the Black American community, to nature and the benefits of spending more time outdoors. She is proud to serve on the Outdoor Industry Association and The Wilderness Society boards. In 2014, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown. She was named a National Geographic fellow, and a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated. In 2020, Outdoor Afro was chosen to be highlighted and visited by Oprah on her 2020 Vision Tour. Check out details here. A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the leadership and programs she has instituted throughout her career, enlightening a diverse community to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors. Rue resides in Vallejo, CA, and is the proud mother of three young adults.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- How Rue turned her passion into a national leadership program and nonprofit
- Why it is important to lean into specificity as you build an organization
- Why Rue decided to split off and pursue her own passion
- How race affects our perceptions of outdoor experiences
- How Outdoor Afro is connecting thousands of people to new and engaging outdoor experiences
- The long term impact of experiences that are rooted in the idea of reconnection
- Website: https://outdoorafro.com/
Reconnecting with Nature
Rue Mapp is the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, where she oversees a nationwide effort to build broader community leadership in nature. In her role, Rue manages a carefully selected and trained national volunteer leadership team of nearly 90 men and women who represent 30 states around the US. In this episode of the Intentional Greatness podcast, she joins us to share her story. Rue talks about how her organization is connecting thousands of people to new and engaging outdoor experiences. She also discusses the long term impact of experiences that are rooted in the idea of reconnection.
If Money Wasn’t an Issue, What Would You Do?
Outdoor Afro is the culmination of many things, and it is changing the face of conservation by connecting thousands of people to new and engaging outdoor experiences. But it is also a testament to the drive and intuition of female leaders across the country. For Rue, this was an opportunity to turn her passion into a national leadership program that has a large scale impact. She was able to combine her love for community activism, her appreciation for deep-rooted family values, her dedication to the improvement of black communities, and her knowledge of social media/technology to amplify her message. We all have unique strengths and causes that we believe in, and Rue’s story gives us a reason to act on them.
Lean into Specificity
Whether you are building a nonprofit to change the world or you’re starting your first business, you need a detailed plan on how you are going to communicate with your target audience. That starts with identifying what that audience is, then using it to guide all of your organization’s messaging. Contrary to what you might believe, specificity is universal—it is not all or nothing. The more specific you can get, the more people will understand how your mission and values relate to them. We are often afraid of specificity because it goes against the idea of inclusivity. But the more specific Rue has been, the more people she has attracted because they get it.
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