Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative

HeartLands Conservancy has, over the last four years, been placing greater emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion. In 2017, the Board of Directors adopted a strategic plan with a new organizational value of diversity and inclusion. Since that time, the organization has improved gender, professional, and geographic diversity of the board and staff. However, the organization has struggled to increase the racial diversity on our board and staff, as well as within our general programs.

In 2020, the board and staff reviewed the organization’s priorities and recognized that progress toward our goals of achieving better racial equity, diversity, and inclusion were moving too slowly. As a result, the board of directors published a commitment to moving the mission forward with greater emphasis and urgency to address racial and environmental justice. This JEDI initiative is one of steps on our journey.

In 2022, the organization has begun an update to our strategic plan to re-evaluate all programs, initiatives, partnership structures, financing strategies, and our business model. We believe it is imperative to begin our JEDI work prior to starting the strategic planning process so that all facets of the organization can be viewed through a lens of racial equity and justice. We also do not intend for this initiative to be a one-time effort. We recognize this work will be ongoing and our needs and goals may evolve over time.

In May 2022, the HeartLands Conservancy Board of Directors adopted a JEDI Action Plan to guide the next several years and strategic plan update. 

2023 – 2028 Strategic Plan

The Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan in May 2023. The plan guides the next five years of priorities for HeartLands Conservancy. HeartLands Conservancy plans to achieve the following goals that focus the organization’s future strategic direction, collaborations and projects throughout Southern Illinois:

  • Foster an Ethic of Care for People and Place
  • Improve the Health of Land, Water and Communities
  • Build Partnerships for Conservation
  • Develop Natural and Cultural Resource Research & Best Practices
  • Increase Organizational Capacity to Ensure Longevity

The following is the updated mission, vision, and commitment statements:

HeartLands Conservancy empowers and collaborates with the people of Southern Illinois to advance and protect the health of our distinctive communities and nationally significant natural and cultural resources.

as a result of our work ….

Southern Illinois will continue to be a thriving region where …

  • Significant areas are conserved for nature and wildlife to flourish;
  • Our watersheds are ecologically healthy, and the air and water clean;
  • Regenerative agriculture and soil conservation is common practice;
  • All people and communities have access to nature-based experiences;
  • Outdoor recreation and eco-tourism support’s a robust economy;
  • We recognize the impact of our histories and cultures;And …..

    the natural and cultural resources of Southern Illinois become known and loved by and for ALL.