As a women-led* organization, we bring knowledge, leadership, and humor to the conservation movement to protect our last wild places on earth.
Wild public lands are treasured for their intrinsic values and protected for current and future generations.
Wilderness and public lands are for everyone; they are the heritage of all and a gift to future generations.
- National public lands and waters.
- The spirit and intent of national conservation legislation such as the Wilderness Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Antiquities Act, which protect wild places that once destroyed, may be gone forever.
- The natural world as a community where humans, as one small piece of an interconnected whole, must take responsibility for care.
- Sound science as a basis for informed decisions.
- Being bold, courageous, and fearless in defense of wild lands.
- Humor, grace, common sense, and passion.
- Openness to all perspectives.
- Dialogue to resolve conflicts.
- Expanding racial, cultural, and gender diversity in the conservation movement.
- Broadness as a state of mind.
(* For Broads, the term “women” includes and represents anyone who self-identifies as a woman.)
Founding Broads Ginger Harmon, Susan Tixier, Edie Pierpont, Frandee Johnson, and Dottie Fox.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness was founded in 1989 on the 25th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by a feisty bunch of lady hikers who wanted to refute then-U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch’s notion that wilderness is inaccessible to elders. About that time, wilderness designation had been proposed for Escalante, and Senator Hatch opposed it, saying, “if for no other reason, we need roads for the aged and infirm.”
Outrage Begets A New Voice
Founder Susan Tixier and her fellow activists were outraged, and with sudden clarity, saw that an important voice was missing from the environmental movement: the older woman—impassioned, experienced, not afraid to speak out, and definitely not needing roads. The group committed themselves to grassroots advocacy to preserve wilderness and wild places for future generations.
What’s in a Name?
Tixier and her colleagues happily settled on their role and purpose, but hadn’t yet decided on what to call themselves. Fate brought an answer to them. One fine day while the gang was out hiking and discussing what action to take next, they came upon a group of elderly ladies coming off a trail—dusty, tan, sinewy, and gray-haired. Someone remarked “What a bunch of great old broads”.
The name stuck. It captured the spirit of the budding entity they envisioned, emphasizing the old and the feminine. More importantly, the moniker had humor, a core value of the group from the beginning.
Concept to Coalescence
The early framework declared Broads to be a nonprofit, social organization dedicated to the protection, use, and enjoyment of the wilderness (designated, proposed, or imagined).
The early days were informal—there were no dues. To become a member you just had to declare yourself one, and then you could buy a T-shirt to proclaim it to the rest of the world. The point was to have fun while doing what you were passionate about.
The Broads sat around kitchen tables and brainstormed. The plan was to spend their time and energies on action protecting wilderness, not creating a formal organization with a paid staff.
A Force to Be Reckoned With
By 1993, with a growing membership and expenses, the board decided to institute annual dues—though payment was still optional. In 1994, it became necessary to hire a staff person to keep the membership database, publish the newsletter, Broadsides, and handle public relations. Broads was on its way to becoming a cohesive organization.
Today, Broads has a small staff and our ranks have grown to more than 8,500 members and supporters. There are nearly 40 Broadbands (chapters) from coast to coast dedicated to local and national wilderness issues. We consider Broadness to be a state of mind. No matter how you identify, or whether you are young or old, if you share our love for wilderness and a passion to protect wild places then you’re a “Broad!”
Great Old Broads for Wilderness 2023-26 Strategic Plan
Goals, Outcomes, and Strategies
GOAL 1: The effectiveness of Broads’ grassroots activism is strengthened and enhanced.
OUTCOME: 1.1: An educated, inspired, and diverse membership is effectively defending environmental laws and advocating for policies and funding to protect public lands and waters.
- Strategy 1.1.a: Provide targeted and accessible education and resources to Broads to deepen their understanding of—and engagement in—public land issues, grassroots advocacy, land conservation, collaborations, and partnerships.
- Strategy 1.1.b: Provide Broadband leaders high-quality grassroots training and resources such as the annual Wilderness Advocacy Leadership Training Sessions, annual national and regional Rendezvous leadership retreats, peer leadership calls and webinars, online resources, and individual coaching.
- Strategy 1.1.c: Recruit new members (with a focus on our prime demographic of older women) through events, sponsorships, webinars, advertising, publicity, etc.
- Strategy 1.1.d: Provide guidance to Broads to strengthen working relationships with elected officials and public land managers at local, state, and federal levels; and to improve effectiveness in legislative, administrative, and regulatory processes.
- Strategy 1.1.e: Encourage Broads to join county and state commissions, collaborations, Resource Advisory Councils, and other opportunities to influence public lands/waters management and policy, and provide training and resources to ensure success in these leadership roles.
- Strategy 1.1.f: Encourage dialogue with those with differing viewpoints on public land management to better understand various perspectives on the nature and sources of threats to public lands and waters, thereby leading to durable solutions.
OUTCOME 1.2: The public is informed by Broads about opportunities to advocate for the protection of wild places, the importance of public involvement, and how to be successful advocates.
- Strategy 1.2.a: Provide education about the history and management of wilderness and public lands/waters; the means by which they can be defended or lost and the impacts of losses; the value of federal management; and the concept of keeping public lands and waters in public hands.
- Strategy 1.2.b: Assist Broadbands in the development and presentation of educational, advocacy, and stewardship events (expert talks and discussions, hikes with a purpose, restoration and monitoring activities, workshops, and Broadwalks) to engage their communities in protecting America’s public lands and waters.
OUTCOME 1.3: Broads are active in areas of the country where grassroots activism is essential to defend public lands and waters from threats.
- Strategy 1.3.a: National staff and Broadbands prioritize significant opportunities for grassroots advocacy and stewardship on public lands and waters.
- Strategy 1.3.b: Strategically expand Broadbands while considering geographic needs, staff capacity, and areas of high existing membership.
OUTCOME 1.4: Broads are engaged with diverse coalitions and marginalized communities regarding community concerns that intersect with wild lands and waters advocacy.
Note: This includes, but is not limited to, collaboration with communities of color (Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latina/o, etc.), LGBTQ+ groups, immigrants, disabled people or those with disabilities, working class and low-income communities, and others who have historically been underrepresented within the established conservation movement.
- Strategy 1.4.a: Develop partnerships with diverse organizations to collaborate on conservation issues of interest to them.
- Strategy 1.4.b: Train and support Broadband leaders’ outreach efforts through tools, talking points, and examples of success.
- Strategy 1.4.c: Remove barriers of participation (language, economic, etc.) and share resources such as access to influencers, elected officials, or partner organizations, funding and grant opportunities, and communications support.
- Strategy 1.4.d: Develop and incorporate inclusive messaging into all print and electronic materials.
GOAL 2: New or expanded protective designations for wild lands and waters are maximized.
OUTCOME 2.1: Protective designations are gained for public lands and waters in addition to Wilderness such as National Monuments, Wilderness Study Areas, National Wild & Scenic Rivers, and other conservation designations.
- Strategy 2.1.a: Provide training on the different types of wild lands protections, the unique challenges of various protections, methods to develop protection proposals, and how to organize and advocate for effective protection.
- Strategy 2.1.b: Develop national and regional events to spotlight prioritized land protection campaigns.
- Strategy 2.1.c: Broads’ national office staff participates and represents the organization in national campaigns and coalitions (i.e. the America the Beautiful for All Coalition) that are focused on new land protections.
- Strategy 2.1.d: Broads’ national office staff seeks out funding to deepen organizational involvement in land protection work.
- Strategy 2.1.e: Broads’ national office communications support prioritized land protection campaigns.
OUTCOME 2.2: Co-management of public lands and waters is established where appropriate by the U.S. federal government and Indigenous sovereign governments; Indigenous partners without formal federal recognition; and non-Indigenous partners having historic or current ties, or a cultural, spiritual, or community connection to the public lands and waters.
- Strategy 2.2.a: Broads’ national office and Broadband communications provide support for co-management proposals.
- Strategy 2.2.b: Broads’ national office and Broadband communications provide education about Indigenous co-management and co-management proposals to support advocacy efforts.
GOAL 3: Wild places in the United States are protected from degradation.
OUTCOME 3.1: Public involvement toward protection of wild places and prevention of activities that degrade land and wildlife and plant habitat health is increased by Broads’ engagement.
- Strategy 3.1.a: Broads pursue actions to protect public lands and waters from activities that present the greatest risk (expanded energy extraction, logging, overgrazing, recreational or commercial overuse) and document the impact of these activities.
- Strategy 3.1.b: Broads’ national office and Broadband communications and events educate members and the public about wild land and water degradation activities, and provide opportunities to take action.
- Strategy 3.1.c: Broads’ national office staff assists in the development and presentation of educational, advocacy, and stewardship events to bring attention to land degradation.
OUTCOME 3.2: Degradation of wild lands is reduced through policy and management planning, legislation, litigation, and other methods.
- Strategy 3.2.a: Broads create and sustain engagement with local, state, and federal agencies, legislative bodies, courts, and the presidential administration to prevent land degradation.
OUTCOME 3.3: Protections are increased and degradation is decreased by Broads who are active leaders and participants with groups, coalitions, campaigns, and other collective efforts.
- Strategy 3.3.a: Create new partnerships with diverse groups and organizations such as Indigenous, youth, recreational (e.g., hunters, anglers), ranchers, land conservancies, and commercial entities aligned with our values.
- Strategy 3.3.b: Assess and pursue opportunities with existing partnerships to achieve advocacy and conservation goals more effectively.
- Strategy 3.3.c: Where appropriate, Broads assume a leadership role within collaborations to further mission-aligned protections.
OUTCOME 3.4: The reduction of degradation and threats to wild lands and waters adjacent to communities, particularly communities that typically suffer disproportionately from extraction and contamination.
- Strategy 3.4.a: Develop partnerships with diverse organizations to collaborate on conservation issues of concern threatening communities.
- Strategy 3.4.b: Identify communities at risk and cultivate relationships to partner with and provide resources (funding, training, access to decision makers, communications support, etc.) to those communities based on their expressed needs.
GOAL 4: Public lands and waters management reduces climate impacts, rather than contributing to climate change.
OUTCOME 4.1: Policy and management practices (such as decreasing or eliminating extractive activities) are established to mitigate climate change.
- Strategy 4.1.a: Build grassroots capacity to oppose activities that exacerbate climate change by using tools such as agency processes, legislative advocacy, direct action, and litigation to protect the land and waters’ natural capacity for carbon storage and sequestration.
- Strategy 4.1.b: Track high-impact laws, policies, and projects that affect emissions and carbon sequestration. Educate members and the public about these issues and how to take action.
- Strategy 4.1.c: Challenge laws and projects that reduce environmental analysis and fail to consider the best available science and full climate costs.
- Strategy 4.1.d: Advocate to increase climate resilience of wild places by preserving roadless areas and old-growth/mature forests and restoring lands (for example, reestablish beaver and native carnivore populations, reduce and retire livestock grazing allotments, etc.).
OUTCOME 4.2: Wild lands policies and management practices are maximizing opportunities for habitat protection to allow plant and wildlife species to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
- Strategy 4.2.a: Pursue stewardship, natural resource planning, and legal opportunities to help restore native plant and animal species and their habitat.
- Strategy 4.2.b: Support and/or initiate efforts to protect habitat connectivity, migration corridors, and buffer zones for plant and animal species—particularly in areas where changes are anticipated due to climate change.
- Strategy 4.2.c: Support and/or initiate efforts to protect coastal and marine waters, as well as uninhabited natural waterways, water sources, and aquatic habitat with adequate volume and flow to retain resilience amid climatic changes.
- Strategy 4.2.d: Advocate and participate in the reduction and removal of non-native species of flora and fauna that inhibit native species and ecosystem health.
GOAL 5: Great Old Broads for Wilderness and its mission are sustainable for the long term.
OUTCOME 5.1: Affordable programs are offered to attract diverse members and supporters to experience wild places, foster relationships, and increase their commitment to conservation.
- Strategy 5.1.a: Design and conduct national events (Broadwalks, webinars) to educate participants about nature, build lasting connections to landscapes in need of defense, create community through enjoyment and stewardship of public lands/waters, and engage participants in advocacy.
- Strategy 5.1.b: Offer stipends and scholarships to support participation by diverse, underrepresented, and economically-disadvantaged individuals.
- Strategy 5.1.c: Seek funding sources, sponsors, and partner with other organizations to subsidize program costs to maintain affordability.
OUTCOME 5.2: A diversified portfolio of funding sources and effective fundraising strategies are maintained to achieve a consistent revenue stream to support the organization.
- Strategy 5.2.a: Develop and implement a plan to achieve balanced funding sources and analyze funding practices for their outcomes and long-term sustainability.
- Strategy 5.2.b: Employ the Board Development Committee to drive short- and long-term fundraising goals and identify prospective funding sources.
- Strategy 5.2.c: Implement a vigorous and dynamic membership program to recruit, grow, and retain active and engaged members.
- Strategy 5.2.d: Develop a program to cultivate and maintain relationships with foundations.
- Strategy 5.2.e: Refine and expand the major donor program, and increase and maintain planned giving commitments and endowments through thoughtful outreach and solicitation of donors and prospects.
- Strategy 5.2.f: Establish and incorporate fundraising expectations in the Board Commitment Policy.
- Strategy 5.2.g: Provide training, support, and development for Broadband leaders to identify and secure sources of revenue.
OUTCOME 5.3: Engaged, knowledgeable, and diverse Board members are recruited to ensure effective organizational leadership and a succession of future Board leaders.
- Strategy 5.3.a: Evaluate current and future Board requirements and generate a pool of candidates with the skills, expertise, experience, and resources necessary to satisfy those needs.
- Strategy 5.3.b: Strengthen the orientation and mentoring program for new Board members to assure the transfer of institutional knowledge and promote full engagement.
- Strategy 5.3.c: Ensure the Board conducts regular reviews of organizational policy documents and bylaws and maintains complete records.
- Strategy 5.3.d: Keep the Board apprised of new and evolving public lands and waters issues and Broadband activities.
OUTCOME 5.4: Engaged, knowledgeable, and diverse members for the Council of Advisors (COA) are recruited to provide support to the Board and Executive Director.
- Strategy 5.4.a: Evaluate current and future COA needs and generate a pool of candidates with the skills, expertise, experience, and resources necessary to satisfy those needs.
- Strategy 5.4.b: Develop an orientation program and identify areas where COA members can provide support to the organization.
- Strategy 5.4.c: Keep the COA apprised of organizational activities.
OUTCOME 5.5: An inclusive and equitable organizational culture and structures (policies, benefits, etc.) exist across Board, staff, membership, Council of Advisors, and partnerships.
- Strategy 5.5.a: Implement practices to recruit diverse candidates for the staff, Board of Directors, and Council of Advisors.
- Strategy 5.5.b: Evaluate current organizational HR policies and procedures to remove barriers and ensure equitable practices.
- Strategy 5.5.c: Conduct ongoing equity and justice training for staff, Broadbands, Board members, and Broadband Leaders.
- Strategy 5.5.d: Work with The Avarna Group to create an education plan for Broadband Leaders that will be incorporated into WALTS, Rendezvous, and webinars.
- Strategy 5.5.e: Evaluate Board, staff, and Broadband Leader commitment to DEI values to ensure accountability.
- Strategy 5.5.f: Secure funding to support ongoing DEI training and evaluation of organizational materials and communications.
- Strategy 5.5.g: Survey staff, Board, and membership to evaluate effectiveness of equity and inclusion efforts.
OUTCOME 5.6: A plan to hire, retain, and inspire employees to ensure the highest quality of organizational effectiveness is developed and implemented.
- Strategy 5.6.a: Ongoing evaluation of staff benefits, salaries, responsibilities, and work environment and location to align with industry averages, standards, and federal and state employment laws.
- Strategy 5.6.b: Budget and plan for professional development, team-building, and opportunities for staff recognition and appreciation.
OUTCOME 5.7: Ensure Broadbands have strong volunteer leadership and are well supported by staff.
- Strategy 5.7.a: Provide guidance and support to Broadbands with implementation of Broads’ strategic plan (as appropriate) and share best practices among Broadbands.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness is committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and broader conservation community.
Our Broad commitment means:
- We are focused on the inclusive value that “broadness is a state of mind”;
- We are open to all perspectives while encouraging dialogue to resolve conflicts;
- We develop deep and authentic partnerships with diverse communities to further a broad set of conservation goals;
- We understand and respect the goals of communities with which we work;
- We identify and find ways to eliminate barriers that prevent full diversified public participation; and
- We seek common ground to work collaboratively for the long-term.
We define diversity broadly to include age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geographies, socio-economic status, and political affiliation.
By including diverse voices, we seek to engage the cooperation of as many constituencies as possible to strengthen support for ecosystem preservation and balance, conservation of public lands, and the environmental justice issues associated with these issues.
We seek the representative voices of Indigenous peoples whose present-day identity and ancestral history are embedded in the land, along with the full diversity of cultures and ethnicities that make up the country’s population. We pledge to work in collaboration with individuals and organizations to respect and honor diverse cultural perspectives of public lands.
Fostering diversity and inclusiveness is an ongoing process requiring continuous awareness and diligence. Diversity is not a project or task with an end point.
Broads identify, engage, invest in, and listen to partners and community leaders as we work towards a more representative and inclusive conservation movement, and make choices consistent with those investments.
When working in new communities, we work to gain full understanding of issues facing those communities; and we are mindful of those issues, our potential impacts, and the need to follow through on clear commitments.
We will integrate diversity and inclusiveness awareness throughout our programs and organizational structure. We work to create an environment in which all feel valued and respected, where learning and integrity are fostered, and laughter and fun are appreciated.