Dyana Peña, the former Angeles Executive Committee Vice-Chair, was elected to serve as the Angeles Chapter Chair in January 2022. Two of her priorities for this year are reinvigorating the chapter’s outing program and bringing more joy to the nitty-gritty work of protecting the environment.
How did you become involved with the Sierra Club?
“I’ve worked as an educator for an environmental nonprofit called the Orange County Coastkeeper for nine years now and have reached over 30,000 students during this time. Still, I wanted an outlet for my environmental political activism, which wasn’t something I could really do working at a 501c3. So, I started becoming more involved with the Sierra Club beyond being a casual volunteer and met lots of people that encouraged me to take part in things like the Equity Advisory Committee and submitting my name to fill in the vacancy on the Executive Committee. Ultimately, though, my passion for protecting the local environment and making sure people are connected to it is what led me here.”
Tell us about your role at the Sierra Club.
“I’m still on the Orange County Political Advisory Committee, but my biggest role is being the Angeles Chapter Chair. My role is quite administrative. I’m in charge of communicating information between our national organization and the Chapter Executive Committee and being the liaison between the staff of our many groups. It’s a lot of responsibility, but having that administrative oversight is so important to keep everything running.”
Are there any environmental issues you are particularly passionate about?
“I’ve always been very passionate about providing equitable access to the outdoors for youth—not only providing opportunities for people but creating meaningful connections where people can feel safe and welcomed. Getting more youth involved with the outdoors will help us create that huge change we really need to ensure a safe, healthy environment for everybody in the future moving forward.”
Can you tell me about the chapter’s 2022 priorities?
“One of the priorities I’ve highlighted for this year is reinvigorating the Angeles Chapter’s outing program. Even though it’s one of the chapter’s greatest strengths, it has faced lots of unexpected, challenging issues because of the pandemic. So I really hope to breathe new life into the program this year to connect more members to the outdoors and get people more excited about the outdoors.
My other priority is focused on promoting more joy in day-to-day work at the Sierra Club. As things are reopening, I hope to encourage more intention in the things we do, such as long meetings, sending emails, things like that. We’re so lucky that part of our job protecting the environment involves being outdoors and enjoying them, but just as important is the more administrative, nitty-gritty work crucial to protect these spaces.”
How do you find joy in the outdoors?
“For me, I love getting to be outside with people and seeing everyone enjoying themselves and connecting with each other. That’s what really inspires me and reminds me why it’s worth it to continue through all the challenges of being an environmental advocate when seemingly everyone is against you.”
What do you personally hope to bring to the Sierra Club as Chapter Chair?
“I want to bring enthusiasm. We’re still going through tough times, and I hope to be the source of fire that keeps the chapter going. I just really want to ensure people are still feeling energized in our work and use my energy to inspire others to keep doing a great job.”