We had the good fortune of connecting with Leander Lacy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leander, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
At Lacy Consulting Services, we are committed to helping environmental organizations and sustainability-minded businesses meet their goal of improving human wellbeing through environmental action. We have done this through a variety of projects across the world. In the United States, we are evaluating the historic discrimination of Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Latino farmers and ranchers to help a large, white-led environmental organization achieve their goal of becoming actively anti-racist in the agricultural field. In The Bahamas, I am helping an organization evaluate the level of trust between fishers, law enforcement, and conservation groups. We are using that information to create strategies with our collaborator to build and sustain trusting relationships. Globally we have interviewed organizations to determine how they are including justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) approaches into their programming. With this information we have amended the globally accepted approach to conservation, called The Conservation Standards, to include JEDI in each of its 5 steps. This provides guidance for conservation groups across the world to now consider human wellbeing and how to be more equitable and inclusive.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business started out of trauma and a desire to find self-worth. In previous employment, I was constantly the only person of color on any given day. While there was a desire to be a more inclusive and equitable organization, actions speak louder than words. In one situation I was told, “Leander, maybe you shouldn’t call yourself a social scientist”. This was told to me by a very new supervisor that was a white, cis-gender female. The statement shattered my reality and sent me into a spiraling depression. That comment alone wouldn’t be enough to break me, but it was instead the 8 years of small cuts that let this one microaggression wound me deeply. I also gave the comment power to take away my self-worth. Something I have learned to overcome.
Now I am the Senior Social Scientist for Lacy Consulting Services and I have conducted social science studies around the globe. My collaborators are constantly amazed by my ability to engage individuals through focus groups and interviews that not only provide them with top-quality data but also leaves them with more trust built with stakeholders than when I initially started the project. I know my worth and my business has allowed me to see my potential through the incredible projects I have completed. I now strive to create a workplace culture that exemplifies equity, diversity, and inclusion and is consistently focused on building up employees with immediate and effective feedback.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Denver is a special place and there are things you can’t do anywhere else. If a friend were in town for a week the first thing on the agenda would be to go walk around at Red Rocks and show them the amphitheater. Next, I would give them a couple of city-based nature walks as we strolled around Sloan’s Lake and Cheesman Park. Foodwise there are so many options but I would probably start with City O’ City for some vegan/vegetarian food and also set up a brunch date at Steuben’s. For unique nighttime fun, I would probably head up to Black Hawk so they could see the interesting casino carved into the mountains. Then to get away from it all, we would head up to the Rocky Mountains to hit some trail and probably find a cabin to stay overnight. In town, I would also head out to an arcade bar to play some old-school arcade games while socializing with a drink.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank my mother for staying strong during the hardest years of my development to ensure I had shelter, food, and freedom to make my own decisions and develop independence. She is understanding and accepting of every aspect of my being. That level of freedom allowed for interesting development into and throughout adulthood. I would also like to give a shoutout to Dr. Perran Ross from the University of Florida. This gentleman saw potential in me in a field where I saw nobody that looked like me in a crowd. Perran was direct and fair with his feedback. This allowed me to truly grow professionally and academically. Without his mentorship and encouragement, I may not have stayed in this field. I would also give a shoutout to Dr. Susan Jacobson. She offered the first-ever course called Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at the University of Florida. That one class changed the entire trajectory of my life.