Meet Our Founder
Rue Mapp

Rue Mapp is the Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national not-for-profit organization with offices in Oakland, CA, and Washington, D.C. Rue oversees a carefully selected and trained national volunteer leadership team of 80 men and women who represent 30 states around the US, and shares opportunities to build a broader community and leadership in nature. Her important work has generated widespread national recognition and support. Since Outdoor Afro’s inception in 2009 as a blog, Rue has captured the attention and support of millions through a multi-media approach that is grounded in personal connections and community organizing. From its grassroots beginning, Outdoor Afro now enjoys national sponsorship and is recognized by major organizations for its role in addressing the ongoing need for greater diversity in the outdoors. In 2010, Mapp was invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment to oversee its grant-making program from 2010-2012. Since that time, Mapp’s work and op-eds have been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Backpacker Magazine, Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, Ebony Magazine, Sunset Magazine, NPR, and many others. Rue’s work has also been recognized with numerous awards and distinctions, including: The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans in the country (2012 and 2016), Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, National Wildlife Federation Communication award (received alongside President Bill Clinton) and Family Circle Magazine selected Rue as one of America’s 20 Most Influential Moms. Mapp remains in high demand to speak around the country and in Canada about her innovative approach that has successfully connected thousands, especially from the African American community, to nature and the benefits of spending more time outdoors. She is proud to serve on the Outdoor Industry Association board. In 2014, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown. A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the leadership and programs she has instituted through OA, enlightening a diverse community to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors. Rue resides in Oakland, CA and is the proud mother of three young adults.

Looking For An Inspirational Speaker?

The Outdoor Afro network is composed of outstanding individuals ready to share the importance of nature, and our mission. Contact us to learn more about speaking opportunities with our leadership.

Board of Directors

Rue Mapp

Founder and CEO of
Outdoor Afro

Mike Brune

Sierra Club

Nicole Boucher

Progressive Era Project and Color of Democracy Fund

Leslie Hardy Hood

Kaiser Permanente

Hannah Kahn

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Angelou Ezeilo

Greening Youth Foundation

Beth Pratt-Bergstrom

National Wildlife Federation

Leader Directors

Zoë Polk

Zoë M. Polk, Esq.
National Program Director
Zoë Polk manages the program curriculum, recruitment, and community engagement strategy for the Outdoor Afro Leadership Team. Based in the Bay Area, Zoë joined Outdoor Afro in 2012 as one of the original members of OALT. Zoë enjoys hiking to waterfalls, exploring farmers markets, and in 2015, she was one of four members of the Outdoor Afro team that retraced the trail blazed by Buffalo Soldiers and successfully summited Mount Whitney.

Yanira Castro

Yanira Castro is the Outdoor Afro leader in Charlotte, NC. In 2016, she was asked to join the leadership team in a Communications role responsible for social media, media opportunities, and the organization’s overall digital presence. She was also chosen to represent Outdoor Afro on an 8-day rafting trip in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most remote places on the planet. Her outdoor passions include summit. hiking, climbing and water sports.

Matt Reese

Matthew Reese is Outdoor Afro's Strategic Partnership Director. He leads the organization's relationships with outdoor retailers, civic institutions, foundations and other entities. A small business owner and snowboarder, Matt joined Outdoor Afro in 2014 and founded the Outdoor Afro Seattle network. When creating Outdoor Afro experiences, Matt likes to identify creative ways for families to learn ecology of their local parks while they recreate. Matt’s favorite local spaces include the Cascade Mountains, Seward Park, Rattle Snake Ledge and Seahurst Beach. Matt is based out of Seattle, Washington.

Regional Leads

Beky Branagan

West Coast

Duane Williams


Brittany Leavitt


Raymond Smith



Morgan Reams

Board of Directors

Leader Directors

Regional Leads


Become a Leader

We encourage enthusiastic, committed, adventurous, and community oriented individuals to join our Outdoor Afro Leadership Team (OALT). We will begin reviewing new applications in July 2017.

Apply today to join the Outdoor Afro Leadership team!

Become a Leader!

Are you enthusiastic, committed, adventurous,and community oriented? Yes?! Learn more about becoming a leader in your community.

Apply today to join the Outdoor Afro Leadership team!