Audrey Peterman is the 2022 recipient of the National Park Conservation Association’s Centennial Leadership Award, “for her outstanding contributions toward ensuring that the national parks are ready and well-prepared for their second century of service to the American people.” The award marks a penultimate accomplishment in 27 years that Mrs. Peterman has been striving to help change policies and customs resulting in park users and employees being more reflective of the diversity of the American population. With the sounds of the birds ever ringing in her ears and the memory of small fish cavorting in the water before her delighted eyes, Mrs. Peterman spent her life as a staunch environmentalist and a champion for the natural world.
Mrs. Peterman became enamored of the national parks in 1995 on a “discover America” road trip around the country with her husband Frank. Seeing less than a handful of Black and brown Americans among visitors and staff in the parks, they resolved to help make a change.
After almost 25 years as an advocate, Mrs. Peterman returned to her native Jamaica in 2018 and found that “you can go back home again.” Living in view of the Blue Mountain Range in Kingston with her husband she continues to write prolifically about issues in the US while describing her everyday life in a near-wild urban environment. A naturalized American of Jamaican origin, Mrs. Peterman holds a Bachelor of Arts/Communications degree from St Thomas Aquinas College in New York, and a Diploma in Communications from the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. She is co-founder and president of Earthwise Productions, Inc., an environmental consulting firm connecting managers of the public lands with communities of color since 1995.
She is the author of three books, Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care (2009); Our True Nature: Finding a Zest for Life in the National Park System (2012) and From My Jamaican Gully to the World, her memoir (2019). She updated that book to address events of the intervening three years amd released From My Jamaican Gully to the World and Back in November 2022.
As a member of the Next100 Coalition, Mrs. Peterman helped persuade President Obama to issue the Presidential Memorandum – Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters. She is the recipient of a slew of awards including the Environmental Hero Award 2000 from Vice President Al Gore and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Outdoor Afro Lifetime Award, 2017.