“I was lucky to be able to grow up in a place that was considered by many and still is considered by many to be an absolute paradise, and that’s South Florida.”
Meet Aliki Moncrief. As Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters, you may know Aliki to be a fierce advocate for Florida and those who call Florida home, but it is her lifelong passion and commitment to environmental advocacy that has birthed Florida Conservation Voters as it is today.
“I was immersed in the natural world more than many other people get to be. I absolutely loved animals. For most of my young life I wanted to be a veterinarian, or I wanted to be Jane Goodall. Being in nature, being independent in it, loving animals connecting with them very deeply – it drove me. Along with that, my mom had always reminded me to stick up for the underdog. And as a kid, I saw animals and the natural world as the underdog.”
Aliki graduated from Harvard Law School and subsequently became a lawyer to fulfill her goal of becoming an environmental advocate. Having worked in both the nonprofit world and in state government, Aliki found power in educating the public and working with communities to enact change for Florida’s environment.
“Prior to the 2008 recession, Florida had established some really robust conservation programs, primarily programs that buy land to be put in public ownership, whether that be for wildlife habitat water protection, or other environmental reasons. When the recession hit, so many programs across the state took a big cut. But as the state started coming out of the recession, the funding stayed at the zero level.”
Partnering with some of the environmental powerhouses in Florida, Aliki helped lead a citizen’s initiative in 2012 that sought to renew funding to buy and restore natural areas and parks for the benefit of all Floridians. The coalition that formed became known as Florida’s Water and Land Legacy.
“In November 2014, we won 74.9% of the vote. More than 4 million voters in Florida said, yes, we want to allocate a third of documentary stamp tax funding to water and land conservation. In 2015, we decided to use what we learned and what we’d built through the amendment to get into politics The environmental community prior to this amendment didn’t generally focus on civic engagement or participation in democratic processes, and certainly not in elections. So in 2015, we transformed Florida’s Water and Land Legacy into Florida Conservation Voters.”
“Our very first plans focused on creating an organization that really reflects the people of Florida. When you ask people, ‘are you willing to spend a little bit more to invest in issues like climate change and social justice?’, we saw the people of Florida consistently say yes. People choose to live or remain in Florida in part because of the natural world around us. Experiences in nature, clean water, clean air – these are not things that only wealthy people should be able to have access to, these are things everyone should have access to. These are human rights.”
As Florida Conservation Voters continues to connect people to legislators to fight for our environment, Aliki’s drive is stronger than ever.
“I worry that the current leadership, and by current I mean leadership that’s been in power for over three decades in Florida, that they’re creating a place that is really only going to be accessible to the very wealthy. Our goals depend on people who live here and who love this state and who want to make sure that parks and open spaces and beaches and clean water and solar panels and all of these things that really improve your quality of life are accessible to everyone.”
“When people feel powerless to make things better, we must remember that we are government. We are in charge, and politics is the process for us to exercise our collective power. Every single person in the state has a role to play. We need to vote, and we need to get our friends to vote. No one person can solve the problems Floridians are facing. We have to band together. We have to share the work, whether folks get involved with FCV, whether folks get involved with other local grassroots organizations or other partner organizations, the reason to get involved is that progress happens only when we work together.”
Over 10 years later, Aliki continues to advocate for Florida as the Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are so grateful to women like Aliki who demonstrate the passion and determination to fight for our environment and are willing to stand up for the underdog.