By: Megan Mustoe, Member of the WFC Steering Committee and Forestry Counsel, The Conservation Fund

Hello everyone! It’s so nice to meet you. I am excited to learn from your experiences, hopes, and dreams of how to make the Women’s Forest Congress be an organization that helps you every day as you engage with forests and forestry activities. I bring a deep belief in the need for belonging and dignity for all individuals. Until everyone has equitable access to professional opportunities, resources, and support to meet their potential and feels inherently safe and respected in the workplace, The Women’s Forest Congress will be needed and continue to be a resource for forestry and forestry-adjacent professions. My other hope is that we are so successful that the Women’s Forest Congress is no longer relevant because we all have the opportunities, respect, and ability to meet our potential.

This summer, I watched Barbie, and as I cried, sighed, and laughed, I thought a lot about Allen. Barbie’s story is straight-forward in her self-discovery and female empowerment. Alternatively, Allen is “Ken’s friend.” Allen doesn’t like the Kens’ changes to Barblieland. However, the viewer doesn’t realize Allen’s allyship until he tries to escape Kendom. Allen, like all characters and allies, is imperfect. He doesn’t help Barbie until Barbie’s friends decide to help Barbie. But when he chooses to help, he’s unstoppable and unconditionally supportive without grabbing the spotlight. I hope we can all give Allen grace for his late and essential response to the call for action. Like Barbie and Allen, everyone in the Women’s Forest Congress is on their own journey of sisterhood and allyship. Some of us may be more of an Allen, more of a Barbie, or a blend of both. Regardless, we all have the skillsets to support each other, but it may take some of us a minute to understand how our individual power can contribute to the greater good. The timing might not be ideal because we didn’t know better or were unaware of the need. But once we realize what we can do to support each other, I hope we will all step up and contribute in our own way, like Barbie and Allen.

As a steering committee member, now is my chance to contribute, even if imperfectly or a bit late. I bring experience in developing organizations, relying on interest-based solutions, and, bluntly, the ability to read plenty of paperwork and parse words. Sometimes, this work is not in the forefront of our minds but is essential for creating a sustainable organization. I hope to serve the Women’s Forest Congress in its sisterhood and commitment to allyship. I can’t wait to meet you in person or at our next webinar.