Notes from the President – Committing to Lasting Change

Artwork from Bird of Peace: Children’s International Art Exchange

Dear Friends,

The June 4 memorial service for George Floyd, after a week of emotional protests over his murder and the many African-American victims before him, was filled with calls for unity, awareness and sweeping change to end systemic racism in the United States. Racial inequity has been a tragic reality since the founding of our country, resulting in indefensible gaps in wealth, health and well-being for such a prosperous nation. The pain and loss that everyone has experienced must lead to positive and enduring change.

At the International Crane Foundation, we understand that our social and environmental needs are inextricably bound together. We have always sought to bring people together from diverse backgrounds to solve problems and affect change, and will always do so. We proudly stand with other conservation organizations that recognize the interconnectedness of the health of our people and the health of our natural world. We join them in speaking out for a renewed focus on justice, diversity and inclusion to achieve the better society and better world we all deserve.

As conservationists, we all know that our biodiversity and climate challenges have no easy solutions and require a long-term commitment. The same holds for our efforts to achieve justice for all. The protests may end, but the really hard work must continue as we strive for lasting change. Every day, and with every person we encounter on the street, that is our shared responsibility and our shared opportunity.

To effect meaningful change in our society and our environment is an overwhelming challenge, often leading to paralysis of thought and action. I know that so many of you – of us – have focused on the conservation of cranes and the landscapes they represent as one way to address the biodiversity crisis in a direct and tangible way. I also find that to work for a more just and equitable society, I must dig deep and focus on one issue where I can make a difference. In my case, I have a great passion for restorative justice as part of criminal justice reform. High-impact organizations are doing excellent work on this issue nationally and locally, to which I dedicate my creativity, time and support. You may focus on other equally important issues – inequities in housing, education, employment, health and many other areas. The most important thing, though, is that we all step up and get involved to realize the changes we wish to see.

Thank you for your commitment to making the world a better place. There has never been a more important time to do so.

Wishing you good health and peace in the days ahead,

Rich Beilfuss
President and CEO