top of page

Advisory Board

Dr. Cornell West, affectionately known to many as Brother West, is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. West teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects -- including but by no means limited to, the classics, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature, and music. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Dr. West is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.
Having written 20 books and edited 13, he is best known for his classics: Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

Dr. West has partnered with to provide teachings on several influential courses including a class with Pharrell Williams on Empathy, MasterClass’ first-ever multi-instructor class on Black History, Black Freedom & Black Love, as well as Dr. West’s standalone class on Philosophy.

Dr. Cornel West

"RBI is a crucial next step in the Black Freedom movement - self-determination and dignity! Let us support this marvelous new project!"

Dr. Yolanda Banks Anderson is Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Development and Resources at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). Having earned over $4.5 million in grants, doctor banks Anderson has served as the principal investigator for numerous bodies of work, covering environmental health and justice, environmental monitoring, sustainable communities, and science education.

In addition, Dr. Banks Anderson serves on the External Advisory Committee for the Center for Advancement of STEM Leadership. She was then named Co-Chair of the Project Kaleidoscope STEM Leadership Institute, and worked with Grassroots Energy Alliance. She was an institutional participant in the Preparing Critical Future Faculty Program and served on the Board of Directors of the Land Loss Prevention Project, the Board of Trustees for North Carolina Environmental Defense, and the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Environmental Education Fund.

She is a member of the Society of Toxicology, the North Carolina Society of Toxicology, and the American Public Health Association. Dr. Anderson received her PhD degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her Master of Science degree in Environmental Health Science from the Harvard School of Public Health, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Dr. Yolanda Banks Anderson

"RBI demonstrates an innovative way forward in the pursuit of environmental justice, climate justice and sustainable land ownership. It is a model which needs to be widely replicated."

A Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, Dr. David Orr is the author of eight books and 250 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications on the subjects of climate change, democracy, and environmental justice. His current work at Arizona State University and Denver is on the repair and strengthening American democracy.

 In addition to his work at Arizona State University, Dr. David Orr serves as a Trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and Children and Nature Network. A recipient of nine honorary degrees, Dr. Orr has also been awarded the Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation; a “Visionary Leadership Award” from Second Nature; a National Leadership award from the U.S. Green Building Council; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Association for Environmental Education; the 2018 Leadership Award from the American Renewable Energy Institute; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Green Energy Ohio.

Dr. David W. Orr

"The Rural Beacon Initiative stands at the crossroads where issues of economic justice, land stewardship, and climate change converge. RBI's methods are practical, grounded in a historic place but its vision is in that great prophetic tradition extending from Isaiah through Martin Luther King and beyond."

Zach Wolf is a farmer, educator and consultant.  He has consulted across the US, helping develop new farms and improve existing operations.  He has developed farmer training programs, research initiatives and conferences.  He is passionate about biodynamic agriculture and sits on the board of Demeter USA.  He is currently based on his farm in the Hudson Valley.

Zach Wolf

"RBI's Free Union Farm ushers in a new generation of stewardship. With this project, we can inspire a new approach to agriculture - one that honors a legacy of freedom and sovereignty, and lets that legacy lead us into a new future of care for people, land and community."

Cameron Oglesby is a double alum of Duke University, receiving a Master of Public Policy (2023) concentrating in environmental policy, corporate sustainability, and environmental justice, and receiving a Bachelors in Environmental Science and Policy (2021) concentrating in Ecology. An incoming Analyst at McKinsey & Company in Washington D.C., Cameron hopes to utilize both public and private sector influence to build recommendations, partnerships, and solutions that will best serve environmental justice communities. 

Cameron has spent her six years in North Carolina working with university and community leaders to establish climate education initiatives, leverage institutional power to foster longstanding relationships, and report on the intersection of environmental racism, infrastructure and policy, and land and agriculture.

Cameron is the project coordinator and creative lead for The Environmental Justice Oral History Project: A storytelling hub and repository that combines the tradition of oral history with student journalism, podcasting, mini-documentary film, educational events, oral history resources, and community-facilitated research to provide a comprehensive view of environmental justice in the U.S. South. She also serves as a representative on the Warren County Environmental Action Team where – in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Environmental Justice – she facilitated a series of regional events that brought together movement icons to discuss Environmental justice: Past, present, and future. In this capacity, she received the Sankofa bird passing of the torch from some of the original Warren County PCB protesters on behalf of the next generation of movement leaders. In further collaboration with movement elders, Cameron is currently writing her first book: a primer on the layered history of environmental racism and the under covered history of Black land ownership, health disparities, and nature access from the antebellum to today.

Cameron is a Young Climate Leader of Color Fellow with the People’s Climate Innovation Center; a Public Voices Fellow on the Climate Crisis with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the Op-Ed Project; an Uproot Project Environmental Justice Reporting Fellow; a Memorial Foundation Social Justice Fellow alumna, and a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar alumna. Her written and audio journalism has appeared in The Nation, The Margin, Grist, Southerly, Scalawag, Environmental Health News, Yale Climate Connections, Earth in Color, and INDY Week. For her consistent coverage of climate and environmental justice in Eastern North Carolina and the U.S. South, she was named a finalist for Covering Climate Now’s Student Journalist of the Year Award (2023), a finalist for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Reed Environmental Writing Award (2023), and the first-place recipient of the Society of Environmental Journalist’s Student Reporting Award (2022).  

Her work is inspired by her own connection to ancestral farmland in Maryland that’s been in her family for almost 100 years; a similar rare show of Black land retention to the communities RBI is working with.

Cameron Oglesby

"Rural Beacon's mission of culturally and ancestrally sensitive sustainability practices presents an exciting goal for the future of energy, agriculture, and infrastructure development. It is critical we re-center rural, Black and Indigenous, and Southern communities in climate and environmental work; RBI has set forth a vision to do that."

Tatum Larsen is currently a Southern California-based broadcast journalist and weathercaster at KESQ in Palm Springs.  She earned her B.A. in literary journalism at the University of California, Irvine where she served as an editor for the school newspaper, co-hosted a podcast that focused on Black-centered news topics, and a web series that highlighted the lives and accomplishments of Black UCI students, faculty and alumni. 
Through her experience with her podcast and web series, Tatum became increasingly more interested in the power of broadcast storytelling. She nurtured this interest by getting her master's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California Annenberg.
Driven by her interest in environmental justice and social change, Tatum is dedicated to producing stories that cover those trying to build towards a better future. For this reason, she is excited to continue her work covering the Piney Woods story made possible by the work of Rural Beacon Initiative.

Tatum Larsen

bottom of page