Changemakers in Michigan Outdoor Spaces
For the first time in the more than 80-year history of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, two of the seven commissioners on the board are female at the same time they’re serving alongside a female Director. Amy McMillan is only the second woman to be Director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks and her 5 year tenure includes making landmark changes to the strategic direction of the Metroparks, nimbly leading the organization through the global pandemic and forging multiple successful partnerships – one of which, with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, is finally leading to the first physical Metroparks location in the city of Detroit by the end 2024.
In the wake of International Women’s Day and in continued celebration of Women’s History Month, the Metroparks are featuring local woman changemakers who partner with them on impactful projects and initiatives that benefit the communities they serve and improve the way visitors’ engage with and understand parks, wildlife and natural places.
Today Jaye Quadrozzi Chairs the Metroparks board of Commissioners as the second female in Metroparks history to hold that seat. As a prominent trial lawyer and partner at Young, Garcia & Quadrozzi, she is not one to shy away from challenge and confrontation and she reminds us “It’s important for women to have a seat at the table because the table should represent all of us”. Commissioner Quadrozzi continues by saying “I think it’s really important that women have leadership roles, and women can not get to lead an organization if you’re not at the table to begin with.”
Her fellow board member Tiffany Taylor was appointed to the board by Governor Whitmer. Commissioner Taylor is particularly excited about opportunities for southeast Michigan families to come together in parks and learn how to be the leaders and stewards for tomorrow. “There have been strong women in my life that have modeled for me what a leader should be, and that has influenced my leadership” Commissioner Taylor explains. “I really think it’s important for young girls to understand the power of their voice to really shape the world we’re in today. Exposure and access to parks at a young age can be applied to shaping and stewarding our natural spaces in the future in the best ways”.
Alongside them is Metroparks Director, Amy McMillan, the female changemaker leading the Metroparks through a period of organizational change and improvement. At the helm of her leadership team, she is pushing the organization to make innovative impacts in the communities it serves. “It sounds trite to say it, but parks mean everything. We’ve seen, especially through the pandemic, the tremendous benefit that parks provide to our communities. These public spaces allow the community to enjoy the beauty and benefits of nature in places they would never be able to experience if these spaces were privately owned”. But Amy explains that the work the Metroparks is doing wouldn’t be possible without the support of many really great partners. “Partnerships are always at the top of list of things important to the Metroparks because it allows us to be a part of something bigger. There’s an unending list of things that are great about the Metroparks, and at the same time there are so many things that we want to do that we can not possibly do by ourselves. We need partners to help us to connect people to places and make great things happen.” Many of those partner organizations Amy’s referring to have strong female leaders in their ranks as well.
In reflection of Women’s History Month, Metroparks Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Artina Carter, states “Women’s History month is important to me because women have been vital to the history of the WORLD and yet their role has been, and continues to be, downplayed throughout history. It’s time out for that foolishness. You cannot tell the true and remarkable history of the U.S. without including the contributions of women.” Commissioner Quadrozzi adds, “It’s really important to highlight strong women and let young girls see it. If you don’t see it, you can’t be it, so let’s let young women see what they can be”. And that is exactly what the Metroparks are doing to celebrate Women’s History Month this March. Throughout the remainder of the month they will be releasing short videos on their social channels highlighting the strong changemakers they work with at partner organizations in southeast Michigan. Follow along to hear from strong women including:
- Amy McMillan – Director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks –
Shares how she got her start in parks, why partnerships are so important and her perspective on Metroparks priorities.
- Alicia Bradford – Director at Wayne County Parks – Who shares why it’s important to have women on leadership teams and the importance of outdoor spaces for community.
- Meghan Bonfiglio - Deputy Director at Washtenaw County Parks – Sharing the captivating story of a new partnership project around a Title IX Plaza being installed at Dexter-Huron Metropark set to educate visitors about the history of barriers to women’s participation in competitive sports and the impacts of Title IX.
- Hayley Murphy – CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society – She is the Detroit Zoo’s first female CEO, but her qualifications are so much more than that. She will share her inspiring role models and vision for the zoo’s future.
- Rachel Frierson – Director of Programming at Detroit Riverfront Conservancy – Rachel has built career success by working with community and building diverse teams and shares why that is so important to her and the work she does.
- Jennifer Jaworski – Chief of Interpretive Services at Huron-Clinton Metroparks – As the first female Chief of Interpretive Services for the Metroparks, Jennifer is advancing equity in environmental education by leading her staff to think differently and deliver impactful, hands-on educational programs. She shares her perspective on cultivating the future stewards of tomorrow and why this approach to education is so important.
- Artina Carter – Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Huron-Clinton Metroparks – as the first Metroparks Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Artina shares why it is so important for teams to be diverse, how being a woman impacts the way she leads and what Women’s History Month means to her.
Collectively these women are supporting and inspiring each other while they collaborate on big, innovative initiatives to benefit southeast Michigan. They took a moment to also share their female role models that shaped them into the leaders they are today and advice for girls and other women who might be interested in becoming the future leaders in parks, science, the outdoors or a related field.
You’ll find these videos posted to Metroparks Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts throughout the month of March.