Join us for our September GC Nature Hour! GC sister Evelyn Brítez (Groundwork 2022 cohort) will lead us in a rich discussion on mindfulness and leadership in mission-driven work. Evelyn has been working in conservation and ecosystem restoration in her home country of Paraguay for six years and completed her Master’s Degree in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, where she currently resides. Along her journey, the importance of mindfulness became so crystal clear to her that she focused her dissertation on Mindfulness as a Conservation Leadership Tool. Read on to learn more!
I became interested in mindfulness in 2017 when I was introduced to it in a training course on “Leadership for Protected Area Managers” conducted by the Centre for Protected Area Management of Colorado State University. Since then, I started reading about the topic and seeking opportunities to learn how to practice it myself. Furthermore, I started practising yoga in 2018 and enrolled in yoga teacher training in 2019 to learn more about the practice. Learning about mindfulness and yoga allowed me to discover the numerous benefits of contemplative practices for my own physical and mental health.
As I started my postgraduate studies, I realised that many conservationists were negatively affected by the stress and pressure from striving to preserve nature. I became curious and thought, how could it be possible that we conservationists prioritise preserving nature and just work at a rhythm that is not healthy for ourselves? Could practising mindfulness help us in some way? If mindfulness benefited people from different work sectors, how could it help conservationists? Hence, I decided to conduct my master´s dissertation on “Mindfulness as a Conservation Leadership Tool”. My goal was to identify how mindfulness could help conservationists improve their leadership, well-being and performance. For this, I collected information through interviews and online surveys. The data collected helped me identify how some conservation organisations encourage mindfulness, the perceptions of different conservationists around mindfulness, how mindfulness is helping conservationists who practice it outside of work and the main aspects of conservation that affect conservationists’ leadership, well-being and performance.
I am from Asunción, Paraguay. I have worked for more than five years in protected area management and project management for ecosystem restoration. Furthermore, I have collaborated on research on mammal ecology in the Pantanal and Chaco regions in Paraguay from 2014 to the present. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from the National University of Asunción and a Master´s Degree in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge. I am not only passionate about spending time in nature but also about supporting people to improve their life quality while preserving nature. In my free time, I like practising different styles of yoga, spending time with friends, dancing, reading about well-being, painting, and visiting new places.
photo credits: Nikki Roach, Evelyn Britez Navarro