Outdoor Afro in search of Chief Program & Innovation Officer

Written By Candace Dantes

Published on Aug 3, 2023

Nature organization Outdoor Afro designates 2023 as its “Year of Elevation.” As the national not-for-profit’s operational and development season continues, it now seeks a Chief Program & Innovation Officer (CPIO) to join the Oakland, California-based headquarter team. “This is a brand-new and an exciting opportunity to contribute to the growth of our nationally renowned, well-funded organization,” said Founder and CEO Rue Mapp. “This position will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for Outdoor Afro’s programs.”


Outdoor Afro’s ideal CPIO will provide leadership to strategic planning efforts. The role will implement innovative programmatic strategic initiatives; lead the organization’s digital strategy and transformation; and engage in fundraising and partnership endeavors to scale the organization. The groundbreaking leader will collaborate with Outdoor Afro’s senior management team and board of directors on operational and programmatic strategies, including marketing strategy, customer journey optimization, and external relationship development. 

Furthermore, the CPIO will work closely with the executive director, CEO, and other organizational leadership to develop, implement, and manage the operational aspects of the annual budget, ensuring sound fiscal management. At heart, the CPIO will play a vital role in cultivating existing relationships with public and private funders while driving marketing efforts to enhance program reach and impact. Earlier this year, Outdoor Afro hired an in-house program assistant, finance director, and its first-ever operational executive director

These additional roles continue to support Outdoor Afro’s strategic development goals and staff demands for advancements in national programming and network participation. “We’re expanding our core leadership team to ensure the long-term strategic and operational viability of our programs and impact,” said Executive Director Lisa Bourne. “The new CPIO will have a really unique opportunity to drive Outdoor Afro’s next phase of innovative growth.”

Fourteen years ago, Outdoor Afro started as a social enterprise for Mapp. She incorporated Outdoor Afro in 2015 as a 501(c)(3) and has led the organization since as its CEO. The organization has grown from a one-woman blog and three founding board members to 12 full-time staff and a 13-member Board of Directors. Its operating budget has grown from a modest $110,000 in revenue in 2015 to now $4 million – largely from foundations, individuals, and corporate partner support.

ABOUT OUTDOOR AFRO: Outdoor Afro is a national not-for-profit organization that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. What started as a kitchen table blog by Founder and CEO Rue Mapp in 2009 has since grown into a cutting-edge nationwide network with 100-plus volunteer leaders in 60 cities with network participation reaching 60,000 people. Outdoor Afro reconnects Black people with the outdoors through outdoor education, recreation, and conservation. Follow Outdoor Afro @outdoorafro and outdoorafro.org.

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    An essential priority for our community is to understand the real, adverse effects of climate change and the deliberate efforts of agencies to ignore our plight. Groups like the Sierra Club, whose racist founders, who deliberately worked to deny blacks and many underprivileged communities access to the nations forest and green spaces, decrying that our inability to appreciate these God endowed places should justify the limitation of access. We shall be the first, but not the last who are impacted by their greed and poor stewardship of our environment. We must not only utilize these spaces for our own emotional and physical health but must be on the forefront of addressing this evil injustice that threatens our very existence. Education, activism and mobilization of our political, social and economic strength should be centralized in this effort. Our community, our livelihood and progeny depend upon our effectiveness. There is no greater challenge that we face.


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Candace Dantes

Candace Dantes

Candace Dantes serves as Outdoor Afro's inaugural Communications Director. The fourth-generation cowgirl and award-winning journalist and marketer is based in the Georgia Black Belt Region. For more than a decade, the rural Georgia storyteller has given agency to Black farming and cowhand culture in traditional and new media. From Smalltown USA, she has collaborated with global brands like London's Black Beauty & Hair Magazine and M&C Saatchi. Back home with U.S. Department of Agriculture research grant Black Farmers' Network, Wrangler, Justin Boots and Visit Fort Worth.