American Rivers welcomes Dr. Mel Michelle Lewis as new Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

November 10, 2021

Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145

Washington – American Rivers today announced that Dr. Mel Michelle Lewis (she/they) will join the organization as Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice.

Throughout their career, Dr. Lewis has worked to center and amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), queer, and trans communities pursuing social and environmental justice.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Lewis to American Rivers,” said Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers. “They are an accomplished leader with the expertise and experience to help guide our critical work on behalf of rivers and communities nationwide.”

“I am elated to join the American Rivers team. This role offers a powerful opportunity to provide DEIJ strategic guidance, inspire enthusiasm, cultivate diversity, promote equity, and foster inclusion in the service of social and environmental justice,” said Dr. Lewis.

“From the deltas and bayous of Alabama, to the harbors of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, my rivers journey now courses through the most trusted and influential river conservation organization in the United States.”

Most recently, Dr. Lewis has served as the Program Director of the Ecosystems, Sustainability, and Justice Program (ESJ) and Faculty Lead/Grants Project Director for the Natural Dye Initiative (NDI) at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). In addition to their ESJ and NDI roles, Dr. Lewis also served as Associate Professor of Gender/Sexuality & Black/Ethnic Studies in the Humanistic Studies Department, and Co-Founder of The Space for Creative Black Imagination: An Interdisciplinary Research and Making Institute at MICA.

Dr. Lewis has also served as a Collaborator/ DEI Consultant with The Art of Change Agency, supporting critical voices and creative visions for sustainable practice, structural change, and social transformation within organizations, institutions, and communities.

Previous positions include Director of the transdisciplinary Center for Geographies of Justice and Associate Professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies at Goucher College; Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California; and Interim Executive director of the National Women’s Studies Association.

Originally from Bayou la Batre, Alabama, Dr. Lewis’s multidisciplinary creative work explores social and environmental justice themes affecting BIPOC and queer residents in rural coastal settings and engages West African worldviews, Poarch Band Creek Nation wisdom, and ancestral narrative portraiture.

 “This new position at American Rivers demonstrates our steadfast commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice,” said Kiernan. “Dr. Lewis is a tremendous addition to American Rivers and their work will make us a stronger, more inclusive and effective organization.”

Dr. Lewis will begin at American Rivers on January 3, 2022.

About American Rivers

American Rivers believes a future of clean water and healthy rivers for everyone, everywhere is essential. Since 1973, we have protected wild rivers, restored damaged rivers and conserved clean water for people and nature. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 300,000 supporters, members and volunteers across the country, we are the most trusted and influential river conservation organization in the United States, delivering solutions for a better future. Because life needs rivers.