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Native American Studies Grad Student Brittani Orona Named Switzer Environmental Fellow

UC Davis Graduate Student and Switzer Fellow Brittani Orona
Wednesday, September 4, 2019 (All day)

Graduate student Brittani R. Orona, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Native American Studies program at UC Davis, has been selected as a 2019 Switzer Environmental Fellow. 

Orona is one of twenty environmental scholars chosen as 2019 recipients of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship, a program of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation.  The Foundation identifies, supports and nurtures emerging environmental leaders through academic funding, leadership training and preparation for policy impact.  The Switzer Fellowship Program recognizes the achievements of environmental leaders and their potential to drive positive change.  Orona and the other 2019 Switzer Fellows will undergo training in personal leadership skills focused on advancing social equity, as well as an intensive policy communications training, which will culminate in Fellows meeting in Washington, D.C., with policymakers and change agents.  Fellows will also receive career coaching and facilitated networking with Fellowship alumni and other environmental leaders.

Orona is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and, in addition to her doctoral degree in Native American Studies, is pursuing a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights. Her dissertation research evaluates Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk perspectives of grassroots activism, traditional ecological knowledge, and environmental health through dam removal efforts and cultural rights movements on the Klamath River Basin. Brittani studies how indigenous communities perpetuate their visions of the world through performance, film, museum exhibition, and art in large scale environmental justice movements.

Brittani has 14 years of experience working with federal, state, and local government. She currently works as Tribal Affairs Program Manager for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. In this capacity, Brittani helps set policy surrounding Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Memorandums of Understanding involving traditional ecological knowledge in State Parks, as well as large-scale land use projects. She works closely with federally and non-federally recognized tribes to highlight the continued environmental stewardship, survival, and resilience of California Indian people.

Prior to joining State parks, Brittani worked for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) as an Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs Specialist. While at DTSC, Brittani led the development and implementation of the DTSC Tribal Consultation Policy, the CEQA (AB 52), and Permitting Departmental Memorandum establishing how regulatory programs consult and interact with California Indian tribes, and the development of the DTSC Civil Rights and Language Access policies. She has also worked at the California Government Operations Agency, California State Archives, the Maidu Museum and Historic Site, and the National Museum of the American Indian (Repatriation Department) in Washington DC.

Academically and professionally, she is engaged in repatriation, indigenous law, cultural resources management, indigenous environmental justice, and environmental history as they relate to California Indian Tribes and indigenous communities internationally. She is a proud third-generation graduate of Humboldt State University (B.A. History) and Sacramento State University (M.A. Public History).

Orona joins three UC Davis graduate students, Lauren Howe (International Agricultural Development), Erik Grijalva (Ecology), and Matthew Williamson (Ecology), who were selected as Switzer Environmental Fellows in 2018. For more information on the Switzer Environmental Fellowship, visit the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation's website.

About Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes over 100 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.
UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.

For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.