With climate change increasingly top of mind, fewer people are taking the great outdoors — and their own personal plots of neighborhood greenery — for granted. Nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land turns 50 this year, celebrating half a century of conservation efforts amid environmental turmoil. Another landmark this year for the organization: Yvonne Wolf’s appointment as TPL’s first-ever chief people and culture officer.
Per the environmental group’s spokesperson, she’ll be a “thought partner” alongside TPL’s president, the C-suite and organization’s board of directors.
In her own words, Wolf said she’s “expected to be a standard bearer for inclusive people and culture practices across TPL that support the sustainable growth of the organization.” Her responsibilities also include “ensuring equity is at the core of all people engagements” and that staff see themselves in the mission and values of the nonprofit, she added.
Prior to this role, Wolf was head of human resources at the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute and executive VP of people and culture for the National Restaurant Association.
Wolf described her work experience as embedding DEI in talent acquisition practice, succession planning and organizational design. She also mentioned another layer of diversity to her experiences: managing talent in both corporate and nonprofit spaces, in Africa, Asia and Europe, along with the Americas.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
HR DIVE: TPL announced that you joined as a chief people and culture officer in August. How do you feel about your time in your role so far?
YVONNE WOLF: Excited! It’s been a whirlwind first couple of weeks, but an honor to be doing this work and helping bolster culture in an already growing and thriving organization.
What brought you to the Trust for Public Land role?
As we say at TPL, people join for the mission, but stay for the people.
I feel a deep connection to our mission to ensure everyone has access to the healing benefits of nature.
I turned down higher-paying CHRO roles when I learned about TPL — when I met the CEO, Diane Regas, the rest of the executive team, board members, and the people and culture team. This opportunity intersects with what matters to me: purpose, impact, inclusion, equity and belonging.
TPL has a long history of partnering with leaders on the ground and working to lift up all voices activating green spaces, from building community schoolyards to making sure every kid and adult in America is within a 10-minute walk of a park.
That mission and those values drew me to TPL, and I knew I could help make a difference here.
In announcing your appointment as CPCO, your company stated the following in its press release: "The parks we do have are not equitable, as parks serving primarily Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other communities of color are half the size and serve five times more people per acre than parks in primarily White neighborhoods."
Especially with this in mind, how do you plan to address DEI internally at TPL?
We will partner to build fair, equitable and transparent people practices that attract, develop and retain diverse talent, across the organization.
One of the most exciting parts of my role is that Ronda Chapman is now part of the people and culture team. As our equity director, she led the development of a comprehensive and best practice three-year DEI plan which includes five goals and actions: culture; recruiting and hiring; learning and development; improving the conservation field; and transparency.
As one team, we get to work together to lead the execution [of this plan], and to ensure all people and culture practices are developed with inclusion and equity embedded in the design.