The Future of Work is Diverse, Inclusive, Just and Equitable

GlobalMindED closes the equity gap by creating a capable, diverse talent pipeline through connections to role models, mentors, internships for low-income students, returning adults, First Gen to college and inclusive leaders who teach them, work with them and hire them.
Finding The Stars On Earth To Explore The Stars In The Universe: Meet Nancy Colleton

Nancy Colleton is President of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), a diverse set of professional educators, communicators, and scientists devoted to leveraging earth observation resources to better understand our home planet and communicate the impacts of climate change to the world. Nancy leads numerous initiatives that promote a better understanding of the changing planet. Her recent work focuses on studying innovative private sector applications of USG Earth observation data, which provide governments, businesses, and consumers with new critical decision-making capabilities in areas such as climate, natural disasters, health, air quality, water quality, and GHG monitoring. She’s chaired the IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication where—along with the World Commission on Protected Areas chair—led the 2016 launch of the #NatureForAll global campaign that now includes more than 570 organizations in 80 countries. Ms. Colleton holds a BA degree in Communications from Hood College.

What is your personal story?

Like many people, I don’t consider my personal story very exciting. But, that said, I had some great things happen in my life, met inspiring people when I least expected it, and have significantly benefitted from the kindness of others. The most exciting thing about me is that I enjoyed a childhood surrounded by superheroes. Now, my version of a superhero may be a little different than yours, but when I think of my life’s journey, whether my parents, grandparents, or even Pittsburgh sports legends that I never met, I find qualities and strength in each of them that I wanted to emulate or discover in myself. As the fifth child of six, we lived in a small town in Western Pennsylvania where coal mining and steel mills offered the best employment options. I grew up in a household rich in personality but often challenged economically. Even today, I often wonder how my parents raised six children on a teacher’s salary, but then I think of my grandmother.

My maternal grandmother, my Baba Staisey, at 16 and armed with a grade school education, worked to sponsor the release one-by-one of her 11 younger siblings and step-siblings—wards of the state—that had been placed in an orphanage in West Virginia. Her story and tenacity didn’t stop there. Years later, she would argue for her blind son’s right to attend Northwestern University. Uncle Leonard went on to be not only the first blind undergraduate to attend Northwestern but the first to graduate from its prestigious law school. He enjoyed a successful public service career and was a highly effective advocate for those with disabilities. So, my personal story is one well-molded by their stories. Their lessons, which I comprehended early, are of hard work, tenacity, and courage. As a young girl and even now, when faced with difficulty or intimidated by a situation, I think of my Baba Staisey to remind myself that it’s nothing close to what she endured to create a better life.

What makes you a remarkable global leader?

As much as I would love to describe myself as remarkable, the description makes me uncomfortable. So, let’s start with a couple of other terms: grateful and impactful. Through no real grand design, I have worked with incredible people worldwide to promote space-based monitoring of the Earth and conserve nature. As a communicator, I love hearing and telling stories.

At the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, a few minutes before the start of a session, I was moderating. Like so many times before, I quickly ran into a conference room, took a deep breath, sat down, checked my notes, tested the microphone, and then facilitated a conversation about youth and nature. However, I didn’t realize I was about to witness a most remarkable moment of strength by a young aboriginal woman. Through her understated and calm demeanor, she stood before an audience of more than 200 and shared how as a young child, she lost her mother, was abandoned by her father, and was left to be raised by five older brothers. She intimated that her life was not easy. She ran away, lived on Sydney’s streets, and endured the most difficult experiences. However, her life changed when she joined an Australian conservation group that helped troubled youth deal with trauma, anxiety, and depression through experiencing and being in nature. She said nature saved her. At the end of her talk, with tears in my eyes and a cracking voice, I managed to thank her for sharing her story. I’ll never forget that moment and how her unexpected and remarkable story touched me and the entire audience. Therefore, I think being a remarkable leader is recognizing it in others and taking what we learn and see in others—no matter how different the culture or experience—and turning it into something positive and valuable for all.

What advice do you have for other women who want to break through barriers?

Believe. Belong. Buckle up! There is no doubt that we as leaders have got a lot of work to do. With climate change, pandemics, environmental injustice, the assault on science, and the need to strengthen education, 2023 is an “all hands on deck” moment. Therefore, we need women and men to bring their best to address these challenges.

Believe that you can contribute to the solution and take action to do so. Don’t be afraid to fail; know you’re making a difference. One of the things that I learned throughout my career is that one should never underestimate the potential impact one may have. As Greta Thunberg reminds us, “You are never too small to make a difference.” Belong to groups or organizations that enable you to surround yourself with positive people who inspire you, help you, and support your growth. Whether professionally or personally, your network is one of your greatest resources. Learn to be part of a team and leverage individual strengths to solve problems. Finally, buckle up because life isn’t easy. Whether as a professional, a spouse, parent, friend, citizen, or all of the above, you will be confronted with challenges throughout life. The key is to meet those challenges thoughtfully, build on your success, and, most importantly, learn from your failures.

How can GlobalMindED advance your goals as an inclusive leader?

Recently I was appointed by Vice President Kamala Harris to serve on the National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group (UAG). It’s an incredible honor. One of the things that I find most exciting about the UAG and Vice President Harris’ leadership is that STEM education and the development of an inclusive workforce is one of the priority areas of the group’s work.

GlobalMindED contributes to this important area by building an inclusive network of students with access to college, mentors, and jobs. This is consistent with the vision of the diverse workforce needed to address climate change, our return to the moon, and our solar system exploration. As inclusive leaders, we must recognize the many steps—large and small—needed to strengthen our probability of success. Discovering our stars here on Earth enables us to explore amongst the stars.
SAVE the date for the next "Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable" Event: Diverse Leaders Breaking Barriers in STEM Professions,
 April 18 4:00 ET

If you missed the last one, Female College Presidents: Breaking Barriers in Higher Education, you can view it here.

Dynamic, inspirational college presidents who have led the way for women in higher education share their lived experiences, innovative practices, and vision for higher education

Female College Presidents: Breaking Barriers in Higher Education, a Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable presentation Click HERE
Dr. Ryan Ross; Assoc. V. Chancellor Student Affairs, Equity, & Inclusion, Colorado Community College System
Dr. Colleen Simpson, President
Front Range Community College
Dr. Cynthia Lindquist, President
Cankdeska Cikana Community College
Dr. Rochelle Ford, President
Dillard University
Sandra J. Doran, JD, President
Bay Path University
Join us in Denver June 7-9 for GlobalMindED 2023

Register here

GlobalMindED 2023 June 7-9 Denver Sheraton

To get a feel for the conference experience, please see this brief video by The PhD Project from the 2022 GlobalMindED Conference, and the Complete 2022 Program

The 2022 Conference:
  • 800+ attendees
  • 140 students from 41 universities/colleges
  • 300+ speakers from 65 universities/colleges and 47 businesses
  • 130 universities/colleges represented
  • Majority of panels featured at least one student
  • 74 % diverse speakers
The GlobalMindED Inclusive Success NetworkTM had another banner year of growth, impact, and outcomes for First Generation, poverty-affected and minoritized students. Here are some of the highlights: 
  • Return of in-person GlobalMindED conference with record attendance and the largest First Gen Leadership Class ever of 122 student leaders. See PhD Project brief video of the event. 
  • Our fourth annual Inclusive Leader Awards recognized 15 DEIB leaders across sectors.
  • Almost all our 100+ panels and sessions of 2022 featured a student. 
  • Of the 300+ speakers, 73% were diverse leaders sharing their thoughts. 
  • We held our first Industry Marketplace Career Exploration Arena at GlobalMindED 2022 with 40 companies, giving K-12, college students, educators, and leaders a way to learn about emerging fields and careers. Join us for the next one at GlobalMindED 2023. 
  • Our first satellite event at Georgia Institute of Tech was livestreamed via the Atlanta PBS affiliate. 
  • We became an official initiative of the Foundation for the Support the United Nations (FSUN) and will hold our first UN event on March 22, 2023. 
  • ·We served ten colleges with the GlobalMindED Success Collaborative connecting students at each HBCU, MSI, HIS and Tribal College with role models, mentors, internships, and jobs. 
  • We had partners/volunteers from Microsoft, Salesforce, Rubrik, HP, Stanford MBA and more. 
  • We spoke at the White House Initiative for HBCUs with sponsor Hewlett Packard. 
  • Our team, Board, Colorado Board and Executive Leadership Council are all majority diverse serving a majority diverse population of emerging leaders. 
  • We continued to publish our daily newsletter and conduct monthly virtual Equity events, led by people of color with majority diverse panelists and students. These are the role models for our students.
  • Our annual operating budget increased by 67% emerging COVID strong. 
  • We doubled our staff from four to eight as we grow to scale our impact. 
  • Our Young Professionals grew to 40 strong, with a ten-person leadership cabinet made up of, but not limited to, graduates of our programs who are now working professionals.  
  • Since 2015, we have successfully connected 1,200+ students to internships and jobs. 
  • Our founder, Carol Carter, was recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Denver by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce and one of the Most Admired CEOs by the Denver Business Journal. 
We are grateful for the support, inclusive leadership, and financial contributions of our community and sponsors who work tirelessly to open doors for the students we serve, the institutions who support them, and the businesses and non-profits who are committed to hiring a capable, diverse talent pipeline.  We look forward to seeing all of you June 7-9 at our best event yet, GlobalMindED 2023 - Transforming Boundaries: Creating Systemic Access and Equity. The Inclusive Leaders Awards Dinner is June 7, followed by the conference June 8- 9 at the Denver Downtown Sheraton.  
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