Community Engagement Planner, US Forest Service
Tasha Lo Porto was born in San Diego and for most of her life called Gilroy, California home. Watching the agricultural countryside of Steinbeck’s time transform during the rapid development of growing Silicon Valley sparked a deep curiosity about the dynamics between natural spaces and urban (colonial) development. Her perspectives evolved further as she pursued dual degrees in Conservation & Resource Studies and Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Upon graduating, Tasha began a career as an Environmental Planner with the US Forest Service in northwest Washington. She worked on projects to sustainably manage public lands while restoring indigenous cultural resources, expanding Latinx youth engagement in national forests, and informing southeast Asian communities of public policy to ensure their safe access to resources on forested lands. She seized the opportunity to work on national policy in Washington, DC and served as the National Environmental Justice Coordinator supporting annual conferences, grants, scholarships, conservation education, and training resources for communities of color and low-income communities to address systemic environmental injustices in governmental programs. In addition, Tasha served as a National Policy Analyst and led the development and delivery of national training products before returning home to her family and roots in the Bay Area. Tasha continues to work for the Forest Service, now in Vallejo as a Community Engagement Planner for California forests. She ensures ethical, inclusive engagement and decision-making practices in forest planning and is responsible for developing and implementing tribal, county, and public engagement strategies, communications, and social media campaigns. As an ethnically Black and Indian adopted child of an Italian immigrant father and Black and French immigrant mother, she is always exploring her own identity and how all of our identities inevitably impact our relationship with the natural world. This continues to motivate her personal learning and action in the areas of food justice, permaculture practices, and collaborative community planning.