aerial view of the forest

COMPASS Update—the Coming Months

By Amanda Stanley

Mar 17, 2020


2 Minute Read


The world has changed dramatically in a few short weeks. A month ago I welcomed friends and colleagues to my hometown of Seattle for a celebration of COMPASS’ 20th anniversary at the AAAS meeting; now Seattle is utterly transformed. We’re all trying to understand what is happening, recognizing there’s a lot we don’t know, and making the best decisions we can in the face of uncertainty and the new information coming out daily.

Last fall I had the privilege of hearing Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, speak, and one of the many things he said that has stuck with me was, “If love is not the guiding principle behind what you’re doing, you need to rethink your strategy.”

Caring for each other is part of our organizational DNA at COMPASS. Our mission is driven by our love for our families, friends, and community, and for the beautiful wild world we live in. That means we’re committed to doing our part to #FlattenTheCurve and reduce risk and impacts from the virus for the most vulnerable among us.

Our work of making strategic connections between people and creating physical spaces for learning and collaboration may look very different right now and for some time to come. We’re canceling what we must, postponing when needed, and adapting to virtual gatherings where we can.

All COMPASS staff are working from home and following guidelines for social distancing. We have canceled all travel and in-person events through the end of April and will re-evaluate as needed. We’re fortunate that our normal organizational policies already follow the CDC recommendations for businesses—we provide health benefits for all staff, allow for flexible work hours, have flexible leave with our unlimited paid time off policy, and many of us normally telecommute.

I’m heartened by how our team is supporting each other and rising to the challenges being presented. For example, with just four days notice, we shifted to a completely virtual training this past Sunday in D.C. for the Switzer Fellowship. My colleagues Meg Nakahara and Heather Mannix crafted an experience that embraced the strengths of the new format while retaining all the hallmarks of a COMPASS training—connection, communication, and community-building. This is the kind of innovation that we’ll continue to utilize until we can all gather in person again.

When we’re forced to distance ourselves, we see our relationships in a new light. The coronavirus pandemic is highlighting just how interconnected we all are, both to each other and to the natural world—and how crucial science and caring will be for figuring out what to do next.

So please, tell us how you’re doing, share your stories with us, and let us know how we can help you. Reach out to any of us, or contact me directly via email (amanda.stanley at or DM on Twitter. We’re thinking of you.

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