From an unlikely beginning as an agency transcriptionist in her hometown of Washington, D.C., Gloria Brown became the first African American woman to attain the rank of forest supervisor at the U.S. Forest Service. As a young widow with three children, she transferred to Missoula, Montana, and embarked on a remarkable journey, ultimately leading the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon and later the Los Padres in California.
The story of Brown’s career unfolds against the backdrop of a changing government agency and a changing society. As scholars awaken to the racist history of public land management and the ways that people of color have been excluded from contemporary notions of nature and wilderness, Brown’s story provides valuable insight into the roles that African Americans have carved out in the outdoors generally and in the field of environmental policy and public lands management specifically. Drawing on her powerful communication and listening skills, her sense of humor, and her willingness to believe in the basic goodness of humanity, Brown conducted civil rights trainings and shattered glass ceilings, all while raising her children alone.
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This event provides the following accommodations:
- Handicap Accessible
Gloria D. Brown started work for the USDA Forest Service in Washington, D.C., in 1974, and worked her way up in the agency by moving west and qualifying as a forester through Oregon State University. As a forest supervisor, Brown received many awards for mediating conflicts between the government and environmentalists. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Dr. Donna L. Sinclair is an adjunct history professor, public historian, and museum professional who specializes in oral history, Clark County, Washington, community history, and politics. Sinclair lives in Washougal, Washington, where she serves on the school board.