Liz Taylor holds a PhD in Biology from Harvard University and her mission is to collaboratively grow the local food system in NorthernArizona so that it has increased economic potency. She undertakes this work on three areas of interest and expertise: early training in environmental management; ongoing training and practice of facilitation, mediation, and community collaboration; and a lifelong interest in and study of the heuristics of teaching and learning, particularly in the sciences.
Liz knows that reinventing a local sustainable food system in northern Arizona requires a collaborative approach joining the force of citizens to community organizations and government programs and funding, and to the acumen and resources of our local business community. Liz is working on Farm to School, institutional buying, and food microenterprise initiatives as strategies to encourage more local food production in Northern Arizona. She is also exploring the efficacy of rural development and job training based in food hubs and food banks as a means to make local food more available in Flagstaff and northern Arizona.
Highlights of her experience and training relevant to her current work include:
- Swarthmore College, B.A. Biology, 1976. Thesis: “Sympatric Speciation”
- Harvard University, Ph. D. Biology, 1989. Research focused on the systematics and conservation of tropical rainforest, and included a monographic study of Sterculia, a genus of tropical trees, leadership and participation in collecting expeditions to the Amazon, and teaching botany, ecology, and conservation biology. Also taught Environmental Management in the Real Colegio Complutense Program at Harvard University,
- NASA Ames, NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, 1989 t0 1991. Studied the use of remote sensing as a conservation management tool Manaus, Brazil, and in the Luquillo National Forest of Puerto Rico with Dr. Walt Westman.
- University of Massachusetts, Boston, Postdoctoral Researcher, 1992, assisted in initiating a project concerning biodiversity management in the Ghats, India with Dr. Kamil Bawa.
- Northern Arizona University, Adjunct Professor, School of Forestry, 1993 to 1999, where she taught in the subject areas of conservation, facilitation and collaborative management and ecology.
- As a member of the board of Flagstaff Foodlink, 2008 to present. Liz, currently Foodlink’s Treasurer, has supported projects that focus on environmental sustainability. For example, she recently participated in writing a Flagstaff Community Foundation funded grant that is being used to support a 2014 Community Garden Education Series, jointly created by Foodlink and the City of Flagstaff, on research on best practices and strategies for water conservation in local vegetable gardens.
Facilitation, mediation, and community collaboration
- Liz learned the (painful) process of Quaker consensus making at Swarthmore College.
- Her formal training in the 1990s in strategic negotiation came about through courses offered by the Danforth Teaching Center at Harvard University, Concur, Inc., CDR Associates, Carl Moore, and an apprenticeship with Bruce Stedman, who at the time was a senior partner at Resolve.
- Early projects focused on environmental conflict resolution and collaborative land management in Arizona and on the Colorado Plateau and included her work as Co-facilitator and Consultant on science driven collaborative management for the Kaibab National Forest, 1994 to 1996 and Executive Director, Colorado Plateau Forum, 1997 to 1998.
- Liz was a member of the core team of the Diablo Trust where she learned about grassroots collaboration and transformative process, 1994 to 2002.
- As a Senior Policy Scholar, Environment and Public Policy Conflict Resolution Program, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, The University of Arizona, Liz assisted in the facilitation of a national dialogue among state and national agencies and non-profits about how to create a more proactive approach to endangered species conservation, 1999 to 2001.
- Currently, Liz serves on the Steering Committee of Hermosa Vida, a program of North Country Health, which is working to reduce rates of obesity and juvenile diabetes in Flagstaff. One area of focus is the inclusion of a Farm to School section in the Flagstaff Unified School District’s School Wellness Policy which will make the district eligible to receive USDA funding to increase the use of locally grown fruits and vegetables in its lunch program. Both efforts are based on broad community collaborative processes.
Heuristics: strategies for teaching, and learning
- Community tutor, Teaching fellow, adjunct professor, trainer, charter school board member, and volunteer at public and charter schools in five states, 1968 to preset. Liz has taught kindergarten to graduate-level classes in botany, biology, facilitation, mediation and community collaboration. At the same time, she worked to make the schools themselves more collaborative with their families and communities and to improve the teaching of critical thinking, science, and math.
- Currently, work with Flagstaff Foodlink includes participating in a civic engagement program with Northern Arizona University (NAU’s) University College ARTS program. Liz is engaged in the Foodlink, Community Garden, and School Garden ARTS and their projects.
- Liz was part of the core team responsible for successfully applying for Helios Foundation Funding through the AZ Science Center for creating a STEM program at Killip Elementary School and is currently part of the team supporting its creation.
- Liz is a board member of Terra BIRDS, a non-profit team of educators, professional gardeners and youth advocates offering programs based around the themes of stewardship of the environment, personal wellness, community strength and resiliency, and occupational success.