National Wilderness Conference Keynote Speaker: Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro

During her childhood, founder Rue Mapp split her time between urban Oakland, California and her families' working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where she cultivated a passion for natural spaces, farming, and learned how to hunt and fish. As a youth, her participation in the Girl Scouts and Outward Bound broadened her outdoor experiences, such as camping, mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling. But Rue was troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities. So for two decades, Rue has used digital media as an important and practical tool to connect with people of color who share her outdoor interests. Outdoor Afro emerged naturally from these experiences.

Rue has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was inspired by her study of the artistic representation of the American forests. She is also a successful entrepreneur whose game and hobby store start-up (It's Your Move) remains an important part of the Oakland community. In 2010, Rue was honored to be invited to the White House to participate in the America's Great Outdoors Conference where President Obama signed an historic memorandum to help reconnect all Americans to the Great Outdoors, and was invited back to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady's Let's Move initiative. She was also appointed program officer at the Stewardship Council's Foundation for Youth Investment where she served for two years to manage its grantmaking program.

Recently, Rue was named a Hero in Backpacker Magazine, honored as part of the Root 100 of the top black achievers and influencers for 2012, and received the Josephine and Frank Dunaneck award for her humanitarian efforts.

In 2013 Outdoor Afro was recognized as a "Game Changer" by NewsOne, awarded the Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, and the Outside Magazine's Editor's Choice designation of a "Favorite Thing".

This year, Rue Mapp received the National Wildlife Federation's Award for Communications alongside President Clinton in Washington D.C., was nominated as a White House Champion of Change, and is featured in Sunset Magazine's annual camping issue to model accessible ways to camp close to home.

Rue is a proud mother of three active children - Seth, Arwen, and Billy, lives in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, and especially enjoys hiking, camping, biking, birding, and kayaking.

Mapp will be speaking at the National Wilderness Conference on Saturday, October 18th as part of the public, outdoor 'Get Wild' Festival.