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Rue Mapp        

Award-Winning Founder & CEO of Outdoor Afro

Rue Mapp candidly documents her personal experiences while pioneering and shifting a new visual representation of Black people in the outdoors. The outdoorswoman transformed her kitchen table blog into a nature-inspired enterprise and movement. Today, Mapp is the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro. For more than a decade, the national not-for-profit organization has continued to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature across the United States. Mapp’s work in nature and outdoor-related fields started in her hometown of Oakland, California, and has since grown to inspire international headlines.

Mapp is an awarded and inspirational leader, speaker, public lands champion, outdoor gear designer, and published author. She established for-profit enterprise Outdoor Afro, Inc. in 2021 and subsequently launched a 22-piece hike collection with outdoor retailer REI Co-op. Her first national book titled “Nature Swagger” released with American publisher Chronicle Books on Nov. 1, 2022.

For more than a decade, Mapp has been recognized with many awards and distinctions. She won the 2023 international Bessie Awards in the JourneyWoman category by global lifestyle and travel brand Wanderful. She was recognized as a 2021 AFAR Travel Vanguard Award recipient, 2019 National Geographic Fellow, Heinz Awards Honoree, and National Wildlife Federation Communication Award recipient (received alongside President Bill Clinton).

Mapp has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Outdoor Industry Association, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and the American Camp Association. She was appointed by California governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom to the California State Parks and Recreation Commission where she served for eight years and was voted to chair. Currently, she’s vice chair for The Wilderness Society and on the executive committee of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership boards both based in Washington, D.C.

The White House also invited Mapp to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, which led to her participation in the launch of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Mapp’s career and community impact aims to lift up the natural world and those who connect with it. Her advocacy for conservation continues to earn international media attention, including The New York Times, Good Morning America, NPR, NBC’s TODAY, Forbes, Oprah Winfrey, and “MeatEater” with Steven Rinella.

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