Local environmental justice leader and IAS alum Melissa Watkinson has been selected to receive a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Forward Award. Watkinson is a social scientist with Washington Sea Grant where she supports the social science efforts on the Olympic Coast Ocean Acidification Vulnerability study, a community-based participatory project with WA’s coastal treaty tribes. She is also the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Lead where she works to ensure that the environmental workforce is inclusive and representative of the communities most impacted by climate change.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition Forward Award honors young leaders who are protecting natural places and making the outdoors more accessible for all. Watkinson is thrilled to receive this award and says, “I'm grateful to use this platform to advocate for systems change so that BIPOC voices and values are leading and shaping environmental policies and programs.”
Watkinson earned both a B.A. in Global Studies and Society, Ethics & Human Behavior (’11) and M.A. in Policy Studies (’15) from UW Bothell and received an IAS Hall of Alumni Excellence award in 2017. A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and descendant of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Watkinson was raised in the Pacific Northwest and considers the Salish Sea her home.
Most recently, Watkinson completed a three-year term as a member of the City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Committee (EJC) a citizen advisory body to the mayor's office which deepens the influence of communities of color in the city’s environmental programs, ensuring that the experiences and policy priorities of people of color shape Seattle’s environmental work. In March she was interviewed , for the EJC Spotlight series where she discusses her approach to environmental leadership.