Dorothy Wong is a graduate of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Leadership Academy and was recently elected to the Altadena Town Council.
How did you hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?
I found out about the Leadership Academy from BikeSGV and was eager to be a part of protecting our mountains while also having the opportunity to learn more about civic engagement and the opportunity to create projects for the betterment of the community.
What was your project?
To create an educational bike tour for young people to learn about the precious resource of water and the watershed, while also learning communication art skills to tell the story of their journey along the way and why protecting our lands and waters through the National Monument is vital. This creative content will be a tool shared broadly and especially to our civic leaders to support the need to protect open space. These young people will learn about the environment as well learn skills that may become their future life’s path.
What’s the best thing you learned?
The process in the classroom brought things together, so as a whole I would highly recommend the Leadership Academy to anyone who is looking for their next pathway.
What surprised you about the program or your work on the project?
It was great to see the coalition of organizations we were able to learn from, and to see how working together was bigger and better for the benefit of the movement. Supportive together, it’s strength.
Describe what being in the great outdoors means to you.
Being in nature is so calming, so fresh and is really bigger than me when I’m there. Its vastness can be an adventure. Getting away from the city noise. The great outdoors is beautiful and still so full of life. It works in harmony and balance when we let it be.
What’s your favorite way to spend your day in the San Gabriel Mountains?
It’s hard to say. I love walking with my dogs in the Arroyo Seco or Eaton Canyon while I test my skills riding mountain bikes up and down the trails in my home of Altadena. Paved ways by bike with friends we love to push ourselves climbing up and over the mountain roads and river paths as far at Mt Baldy Ski Lifts and sometimes all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
What has post-academy life been like?
The timing was so right with our national political leadership challenging our national monuments it was time to stand up and protect them. I felt more confident and knowledgable and ready to make change. A big moment was attending the Transportation Equity Summit hosted by Transform and Cal Bike in Sacramento, advocating and lobbying for support Transportation Equity themed Assembly Bills and seeing how it all worked by using my advocacy skills learned though the Academy. I was so excited from the momentum to make a difference, I took the opportunity to do so in my community and ran for Altadena Town Council — and much on the grounds of protecting open space and the environment. People rallied in support and I got out there to meet and speak to my neighbors about their concerns. I worked all the way up to the last minutes of the election and as a result got the highest votes!
Working together is what it’s all about, so I’ve been taking on opportunities to outreach provided by and in support of the SGMF coalition. Driven by my love of competition, I entered the National Monument Public Comment “Postcard Challenge” and reached out at events and in my community, as well as working alongside SGMF Leadership Academy alumni at events such as the REI Garage Sale to ask the public to be a voice and sign the postcards asking our Federal leaders to protect our lands and waters via National Monument designation. We help people understand why we need to protect more of it. I also recently attended Climate Day LA leadership conference. It was amazing to be a part of the enthusiasm to work on climate change issues and become leaders in reducing our impact on the planet. It all works together and what we do affects all on our planet… the great outdoors!
MORE: Feature in the Altadena Library newsletter