Barbara Vincent - New Orleans, La.
Chair, Gulf Coast Regional Conservation Committee
You might expect a native Louisianan to be hot for zydeco tunes served up with catfish
and hushpuppies - a Southern delicacy made of fried cornmeal dough. Not Barbara Vincent.
She's a vegetarian nutritionist who rarely indulges in such traditional fare. As for the
music, she says, "About eight years ago we did this giant Sierra Club mailing, and we
had to put labels on 12,000 brochures. We listened to this Irish music program, and I got
totally hooked." She has a CD player that holds 51 discs, and every one of them is
music from the Celtic nations. "A lot of it is really tragic, just like environmental
work can be tragic, depending on what's going on," she says.
Vincent has seen enough of that firsthand. In addition to being the chair of the GCRCC,
she's the Delta Chapter chair, serves on the national Environmental Quality Strategy Team
and is that body's liaison to the national Environmental Justice Committee. "EJ work
is my passion," she says. "I've worked with an African-American community that
was built on top of an old municipal landfill that's now a Superfund site. Louisiana is
full of such cases. You can't live here and not feel outraged by what some people have to
Susan LeFever - Boulder, Colo.
Director, Rocky Mountain Chapter
Susan LeFever is so dedicated to building bridges in the Sierra Club that, as a staff
member, she married a volunteer. Mark Collier was chair of the Rocky Mountain Chapter in
Colorado, and LeFever was working on chapter fundraising efforts through the national Club
office when they met at a conference in Bethesda, Md., in 1989. After a long-distance
courtship, LeFever moved from San Francisco to Boulder and the two were married. Now she's
the chapter director, and Collier is the chapter's volunteer treasurer (he's a software
engineer in his work life).
In between her paid jobs with the Club, LeFever has volunteered on the Club's national
Development Committee, worked on the Training Academy program and at one time chaired the
Indian Peaks Group. That's dedication - and it appears she inherited her passion for
activism from her mother. "She's a second-grade teacher who has made a difference in
one life at a time," says LeFever. "She instilled in me a positive outlook, and
the belief that I can make a difference, too. The Sierra Club empowers people to make
change in their community."
At the moment, LeFever's priority is stopping sprawl in Colorado. She's currently
pushing a ballot initiative that will require city and county governments to develop
growth plans that must be approved by voters.
Louis Alvarado - Glendale, Calif.
Outings Leader, Angeles Chapter
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan dubbed Louis Alvarado "the mayor of Griffith
Park" - a 4,000-acre green space of canyons and chaparral-covered hills surrounded by
city and suburbs. Alvarado loves this urban park. "When I was a kid in Colorado I
used to hike in the Rocky Mountains," he says. "As an adult I moved to the Los
Angeles area, and one day I decided to take a walk. There was Griffith Park. It's lush and
green, and after five minutes on a trail you feel like you're in wilderness."
Alvarado's not the type to chain himself to a tree to protect it, but he's defensive of
the park and has fought horseshoe pits, soccer fields and even a children's museum - all
of which, he says, can be put somewhere else. "Once you put a peg in the ground for
horseshoes, it's a structure. Open space is very limited, so I'll fight to preserve it -
every square foot of it." He does what it takes, whether it's speaking at a hearing,
holding a press conference or writing a letter.
A retired general contractor, Alvarado shares his enthusiasm by organizing Sierra Club
outings at Griffith Park every Tuesday and Thursday. Some nights as many as 350 people are
divided into smaller hiking groups based on the level of difficulty that suits them. Says
Alvarado, "This is my home, this is my love, and everybody knows that."
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