Posted on 01/16/21 in LEAP Spotlight!
Alicia began her year of service with LEAP in October, continuing a career defined by learning and helping others.
“I was inspired to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer by COVID-19’s profound, far-reaching impact on our communities and our ability to take care of one another,” said Alicia. “I’m excited to be a part of the LEAP community and to continue to learn and grow together.”
In her role supporting LEAP’s growing community partnership initiatives, Alicia has been instrumental in the launch of the agency’s new speakers’ bureau. She has been updating and optimizing a series of engaging presentations on a variety of disability-related topics for virtual delivery. (To schedule a complimentary presentation or to learn more, complete and return the linked referral form.)
Born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio, Alicia moved to the Washington D.C. area upon graduating from Baldwin Wallace University to work for the Center for Urban Ecology as a biological technician. Her work on environmental restoration projects along the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, which included testing fish for toxins and to create and disseminate corresponding health advisories, exposed the budding professional to the very real consequences of economic inequality.
“The connection between environment circumstances and human well-being along the Anacostia River made a lasting impression,” Alicia said. “Despite posted health warnings and possibly dangerous consequences, the community’s most economically disadvantaged members often continued to subsistence fish to feed their family.”
While teaching adaptive swim lessons and coaching a Special Olympics team, Alicia met her future husband. His job eventually took them west to Colorado, where Alicia earned a master’s degree in rangeland ecosystem science at Colorado State University while working for the U.S. Forest Service. In her free time, she helped local schools establish programs for underserved children, including two Parent-Teacher Organizations, a teaching garden and a summer reading program.
Alicia also has many years of formal and informal science education. She has taught people of all ages and abilities, is a certified interpretive guide and has earned environmental education certification.
While in Colorado, Alicia worked as an outdoor environmental educator and interpretive naturalist at Lory State Park. Continuing her service to others, she created a Get Kids Outside Scholarship for underprivileged children and started and grew a volunteer program while designing curriculum that met Colorado state standards.
When Alicia’s oldest daughter developed a rare chronic condition at age 15, she began the process of navigating the medical system under complex circumstances. Eventually, that learning journey led to the Mayo Clinic, which provided the diagnosis, and charted Alicia’s return to Northeast Ohio so her daughter could receive specialized treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
Alicia’s youngest daughter has autism and has faced her own challenges. “Knowing what it is like to struggle fuels my desire to want to reach out and help others,” added Alicia.
Since returning to Ohio, Alicia has continued to expand her knowledge in the environmental field by taking courses at Cleveland State University and has shared her expertise with others by offering presentations on the local effects of climate change.
Please join us in welcoming Alicia to LEAP!