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Marcela Maldonado has been a member of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Next Generation Advisory Council since its inception in 2015. As a leading member, Maldonado has supported the foundational creation of the Council’s charter and goals. She also facilitates difficult conversations around environmental equity, as well as assists in the management of the Council’s calls, meetings, and events.
Maldonado has led countless webinars, workshops, panels, and podcasts in communicating best practices for engaging and inviting underrepresented communities to the Trail. Julie Judkins, ATC’s Director of Outreach and Education, says “Marcela has a strong voice for how and why young people should be given opportunities to experience the A.T. She fights to tell a more inclusive narrative for public lands.”
Maldonados’ strong leadership and empowering voice pushes those around her to think differently. She explains, “It’s important to bring new people to the Trail and show them that it is theirs. The future of the trail is in exactly that, bringing in new people and adapting to new ways of using and caring for the Trail.” Maldonado also assisted in the planning of a National Trails Day event in New York that brought new and urban partners to the Appalachian Trail. She has lobbied with congressional delegates during Hike the Hills in Washington D.C. in which she shared her story during the Find Your Way celebration in 2018. Michela Williams, U.S. Forest Service employee and fellow Next Gen Member, explains “Marcela’s speech really touched everyone in the room and told an authentic story of millions of people today.”
Maldonado currently serves as a Land Steward for the Nature Conservancy in NY where she manages sixteen preserves; she also hosts a podcast about the outdoors and the environmental field alongside her fellow Next Gen council member, Dakota Jackson, called Woke in the Woods Podcast.