Spur Others to Greatness









Former Federal Executive Seeks to Spur Others to Greatness


In 1973, Denise Meridith stunned a lot of people.  A young African-American woman, born in Brooklyn, who had defied expectations by earning a degree in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University, became the first woman professional hired by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  From the woods and mountains of upstate New York, she ventured to the desert of Nevada to manage habitat for bighorn sheep and wild horses, and recreation for everyone from hunters to tree-huggers.  The adventures of her 29-year journey, from coast to coast, and becoming the highest-level career executive in BLM, is the subject of her autobiography Thoughts While Chillin’But, after 16 years of managing her own public and community relations firm (she will document that era of her life in a new book later this year), Meridith has a new mission: to use her knowledge, skills and experiences to help enhance leadership throughout government, private and non-profit organizations.

“I am concerned about the lack of emphasis on leadership development, especially among the young, women and people of color,” Meridith says. “We are facing serious social and economic challenges. We need to be teaching people how to do more than send a tweet.”

Meridith has already been sharing weekly leadership tips via her weekly Thoughts While Chillin’ blog for over 10 years. But she has assumed a new moniker— “World’s Best Connector”—and will be sharing her experience in overcoming racial, gender, financial and other challenges, with employees of corporations, non-profits, universities, and public organizations.

Meridith is a popular speaker for keynote, panel discussion and workshop appearances because, despite her serious message, she delivers it with humor and optimism.  “My mother filled my head with old adages, like “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. It is funny that the older I got, the smarter my parents became.”

Meridith has some new priorities now. The movie Hidden Figures reminded her of the similar challenges she faced studying and working in male-dominated sciences. She motivates students and educational institutions involved in increasing the numbers of women and people of color in STEM programs.

Meridith is also very concerned about a political climate that dismisses science and is attempting to undo designation of special areas, like the BLM National Monuments she helped create in Arizona. “The US has been a world leader in protecting our irreplaceable natural and cultural resources,” she says, “And demonstrating to other countries how these areas can contribute to local economies via tourism and job creation.” She is anxious to talk to Americans about the economic, social and cultural value of US public lands that belong to everyone.

Readers can find out more about Meridith, join her social media pages, and learn how to engage her for talks to their organizations on her website www.worldsbestconnector.com

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