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Women's History Month

DEC joins the nation in celebrating the accomplishments of women throughout the month of March during Women's History Month. This year's national theme is "Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope." As we acknowledge the past and celebrate the present, DEC is highlighting remarkable women who have advanced, taught, or advocated for the well-being of the environment. These trailblazers have created a path for today's history-in-the-making women at DEC, several of whom are profiled below to applaud their recently earned promotions to leadership positions.

Protecting the Environment Throughout History

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Anna Botsford Comstock - An acclaimed author, illustrator, and educator of natural studies, Comstock was the first female professor at Cornell University in 1897. Comstock's more-than-900-page work, The Handbook of Nature Study (1911), is now in its 24th edition.

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Rosalie Barrow Edge - An environmental advocate, suffragist, and amateur birdwatcher, she established the Emergency Conservation Committee in 1929. Her goal was to expose ineffectiveness in conservation and advocate for species preservation. In 1934, Edge founded the world's first preserve for birds of prey, now known as Hawk Mountain Sanctuary near Kempton, P.A., and today, it sees about 20,000 birds of prey migrate through it annually.

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Elizabeth Kolbert - As a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, she writes about topics such as climate change, captive breeding in zoos, and human impacts on the environment. Covering her travels from Alaska to Greenland to uncover the facts of global warming, Kolbert's writing aims to be educational, inspiring, and thought-provoking.

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Leah Penniman - Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer, author, mother, and food justice activist who has been tending the soil and organizing for an anti-racist food system for 25 years. She currently serves as founding co-ED and Farm Director of Soul Fire Farm (leaves DEC website) in Grafton, New York, a Black and Brown led project that works toward food and land justice. Her book is Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.

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Harriet Tubman - Known mostly as an abolitionist who led many enslaved Black people to freedom by using the Underground Railroad, Tubman was also a naturalist and an herbalist. She used the call of a barred owl while leading people to freedom, letting them know when it was okay to come and when it was not. Using another learned skill in botany while she served as a nurse, she treated her patients using medicinal flowers and roots. We celebrate Tubman every year on March 10, and it is believed that this year would be her 200th birthday. The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park (a 32-acre space) was established on January 10, 2017, in Auburn, NY, to honor this iconic woman.

DEC Employees

Susan Edwards

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Susan Edwards earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester and joined DEC in 1985, as a junior engineer in the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste. She is currently serving as the Acting Director for the Division of Environmental Remediation. Edwards says her favorite part of working at DEC is feeling that she is truly benefiting communities across the state. Her recent work has involved guiding DEC actions to address emerging contaminants in drinking water. "Once communities have been assisted, there is an overall sense of having provided relief and closure to what can be a difficult and emotional journey to resolution for those affected," Edwards said. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Bob, whom she met while working at DEC, and keeping up their hobby farm, where they have chickens, sheep, and goats, and make maple syrup and wine. Edwards says the support and encouragement she received from her parents to pursue any career she wanted was essential. For future female leaders, she recommends inserting yourself into groups that are supportive and have good leaders so you can learn from the best.

Adriana Espinoza

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Adriana Espinoza recently joined DEC as the agency's first Deputy Commissioner for Equity and Justice. As Deputy Commissioner, Espinoza will oversee DEC's Office of Environmental Justice and lead internal efforts to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion among incoming and current staff and enhance DEC's outreach to disadvantaged communities across the state. Prior to joining DEC, Espinoza served as New York City's first Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice in the Mayor's Office of Climate & Sustainability, where she directed the development and implementation of the City's Environmental Justice for All Program. Espinoza also previously served as New York City Program Director for the New York League of Conservation Voters. She is excited to join DEC and looks forward to working across the agency to build inclusive workplace where people of diverse backgrounds can thrive and advance in their roles. Espinoza is a first-generation immigrant and college graduate, earning her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin where her concentrations were policy and community administrative leadership. In her free time, she enjoys exploring NYC's five boroughs on her bike and hanging out with her adopted kitten, Tortuga. Her message to the next generation of female leaders is to always be intentional about uplifting other women, particularly women of color, and creating space for mentoring others as you grow in your own leadership. A message inspired by one of the great intersectional leaders of generations past, Mary Church Terrell - "Lift as you climb."

Dereth Glance

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Dereth Glance is the new Deputy Commissioner for Environmental Remediation and Materials Management for DEC. Glance comes to DEC having served as the Executive Director for Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA). Prior to that, Glance was appointed by President Obama to serve as a U.S. Commissioner at the International Joint Commission (IJC) charged with preventing and resolving disputes and promoting cooperation for the shared waters of the United States and Canada. She served as the Executive Program Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), directing water, energy, and waste reduction programs for five regional offices in New York and Connecticut and chaired the Citizen Participation Working Group for the Onondaga Lakes Bottom Subsite of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site. In prior roles, she chaired the OCRRA recycling committee and has served on New York State's Great Lakes Basin Advisory Council, the Clean Water Network, and the Onondaga Lake Partnership Outreach Committee. She graduated from James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University with a degree in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy.

Glance has advice for future leaders, and she incorporates this as much as possible:

  1. Go for it.
  2. Remain focused on outcomes and don't let the process lose sight of the end-goal.
  3. The world is run by those that show up-and it takes a village to provide capacity to show up-so we all need support. It is amazing how adding one more person in a room or inserting oneself in the process can make a remarkable difference to the tone, focus, and outcome.
  4. Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.

Alanah Keddell-Tuckey

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Alanah Keddell-Tuckey was recently named the Director of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). She joined DEC in 2012 and worked for OEJ for five years as the Public Outreach Specialist. She was previously the Deputy Director for the Office of Legislative Affairs. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in sociology from SUNY Binghamton, and a law degree from Albany Law School. Keddell-Tuckey enjoys talking with people and working toward shared goals that help improve the environment for all New Yorkers. When she's not at work, Keddell-Tuckey enjoys hiking with family, kayaking, paddle boarding, yoga, and weightlifting. Her advice for future leaders, "Sometimes we have to be our own advocate, be willing to speak up, ask for help, and recognize that not being able to do and know everything is not a weakness."

Karen Przyklek

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Karen Przyklek is the Director of the Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) and a 26-year veteran of DEC. She is the first woman to serve as Director of DLE. Przyklek began her career as an Environmental Conservation Police Officer (ECO) patrolling New York City in 1996, before becoming an investigator with the Division's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI). In 2014, Przyklek was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, and then to Captain in 2019. Most recently, she served as Captain of the Division's Special Operations Group, which includes the statewide K9 Unit, Homeland Security/Radiation Unit, Wildlife Response Team, and Haz Mat Training Unit. Her goal as Director of DLE is to diversify the workforce to better reflect the population of the state and equip DLE staff with the proper training and tools to combat the ever-changing threats to the environment. Przyklek attended Monroe Community College and St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, where she earned a degree in criminal justice. Prior to joining DEC, she served as a deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Rochester. In her free time, you can find her outdoors, hiking with her dog Max, kayaking, and growing English roses. She also enjoys cooking and trying new food and wine from around the world. Przyklek's advice to the next generation of female leaders, "Don't be afraid to pursue your ideas, and don't listen to those that say that your dreams are unattainable. Follow your passions and look for guidance from those women that came before you."