The Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship

The National Wildlife Federation is committed to driving change across the conservation community by embedding equity and justice into our organizational policies, practices, and programs. People of color are underrepresented in conservation organizations, especially at the Board and Staff level, an issue driven by barriers to success, such as insular recruiting paired with a lack of readiness and retention practices.

To address these barriers and better integrate best practices in readiness, recruitment and retention, the Federation and the Agnes Scott College are excited to collaborate on the first inaugural Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship—a professional training, career development, youth education, and research paid fellowship for a student or recent graduate of Agnes Scott.

The Fellow will work over the course of a year with the National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors and Governance Department, learning and honing the skills needed to embark on a career in conservation nonprofit leadership.


The Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellow will join the National Wildlife Federation’s current fellowship program, which brings recent graduates to its offices nationwide to experience many aspects of our conservation mission, including work on endangered species, land stewardship, and protecting our nation's water.

In addition to providing the Fellow with financial assistance, including a salary and full benefits, the Fellow will be mentored throughout the year by current Federation Board Members and Executive Staff and may be provided the opportunity to engage with Boards of Directors of sister organizations.

The Fellowship will provide new talent with a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working alongside some of the best creative and executive leaders that conservation organizations have to offer.

• The Fellow will receive a full-time salary, including all core benefits.
• This is a year long Fellowship: June 2021 to May 2022
• The Fellow will be embedded with the Federation’s Office of General Counsel, working closely with the General Counsel and Governance personnel to provide an understanding of how to manage and staff a national board of directors. In addition, the Fellow will have opportunities to engage with Federation programs consistent with their interests.
• The Fellow will be provided access and opportunity to engage with other Board of Directors to learn about best practices.
• The Fellow will be provided with a National Wildlife Federation Board mentor to further career development.

The Fellowship will begin at the June 2021 National Wildlife Federation Annual Meeting and last one full year.


The Dianne Dillion-Ridgley Fellowship is limited to applicants from Agnes Scott College, though we hope to expand the program in coming years. This opportunity would be particularly useful for an upper-class student or recent graduate who is interested in pursuing executive nonprofit leadership, particularly in an organization committed to equity and justice.

The Federation will award the inaugural Dianne Dillon-Ridgley Fellowship to a current student or recent graduate of Agnes Scott College whose work offers a fresh perspective on ways in which people of color are represented in organizations.

Our goal in establishing this much-needed Fellowship is to provide a ready-for-hire talent pool for corporate or non-profit board management positions and teach fellows to live, thrive, and succeed as future board members.

About Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

Dianne Dillon-Ridlgey

For the last four decades, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley has been a powerhouse of the conservation movement and a lifelong advocate for racial equity and women’s rights. She has been appointed by three U.S. presidents across three administrations and has served on nearly two nearly international delegations.

Dillon-Ridgley has served on numerous non-profit and corporate boards, including nine years on the board of the National Wildlife Federation, where she was instrumental in focusing and guiding the Federation on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Dillon-Ridgley got her career start in the environmental field as an intern at the then less than two-year-old Environmental Protection Agency.

Dillon-Ridgley has lived in Iowa for over 40 years, where she reared her two adult children: Karima, who graduated from Harvard, and Dasal Naji, who graduated from Morehouse in Atlanta.

About Agnes Scott College

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.

The College’s Center for Sustainability provides the place for the Agnes Scott community to learn about the challenges of global climate change, including climate and environmental justice, and to seek collaborations on innovative and equitable solutions for sustainability both on and off campus.

The National Wildlife Federation believes that in order to save wildlife and ourselves, we need to ensure that all people have access to clean air and water, safe communities, easy and equitable access to nature, and protection from the ravages of climate change.

These basic needs, equally necessary and urgent for all people, are foundational to bringing the conservation movement and ethos into the 21st century. In order to do this, we must operationalize and embed equity and justice into our organizational policies, practices, and programs.

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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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