Creating Community

Issues in ecological sustainability and conservation are complex and challenging to address. Social issues and environmental are branches of the same tree, and success in both are hindered when we view them separately. I believe building just and equitable communities wherever I am is essential to ensuring the vitality and vibrancy of people and the planet. From community-building I offer training, workshops, and coaching on equity and justice for organizations. 

Equity Specialist for Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State University: My main duties are to provide departmental trainings, create a critical mentoring certification, and create strategic documents for the department. This includes collaborating with the faculty Diversity Committee to create a guide for equity and inclusion in departmental curriculum. 

Herpetological Conservation

As a project lead and co-chair for Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Team, I have collaboratively led a national team aimed at making herpetological conservation a community where everyone can thrive. 

Key Equity and Justice accomplishments:

  • Created formalized roles of power for the task team on PARC’s governing bodies

  • Creation and funding of PARC’s first professional development scholarship for individuals from marginalized backgrounds

  • Restructured task team to reduce hierarchy and increase equity


Key Inclusion accomplishments:

  • Creating and facilitating monthly learning discussions to train task team members and build capacity for change

  • Securing commitment/support for annual training of PARC leadership

  • Designed DEI presentation given at all annual regional PARC conferences

  • Published PARC’s first survey evaluating demography and organizational culture

  • Led and facilitated antiracism training for PARC leadership and other workshops at regional meetings

  • Supported @herpetALLogy Twitter account providing a platform for herpetologists to share their stories and work

The classroom

The core of my teaching applies experiential learning to promote reflection, critical thinking, and personal development so that students can address socio-environmental issues and communicate about them in ways meaningful to society at large. The ultimate goal is for students to perceive how they can play active role in the communities around them.

Urban Wildlife Conservation and Management:  This undergraduate course combines urban ecology, human dimensions, and communications. I created this course and taught it in spring of 2020. Core topics in this class were how urban policy shapes the environment and how environmental justice has been neglected in the wildlife field.

Creative Communications Project by X. Maslowski

Climate Change and Justice: Along with Courtney Davis, we designed and taught a course on Climate Change and Justice for the Upward Bound Program, a college access program at Penn State for Pennsylvania high school students. This course culminated in an art-as-activism assignment that tied the science of climate change to issues facing their communities.

Students share their art-as-activism project

Excellence in Community Building:

  • Horton Memorial Award, Penn State Ecology Program
  • Excellence in Mentoring Award, Penn State Graduate School
  • Harrar Scholar for Teaching Excellence, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
  • Roger M. Latham Memorial Award, Penn State Wildlife & Fisheries Program
  • Community Builder Award, Elon University Residence Life