There are 2.7 million acres of public land in the Adirondacks, but the park doesn’t always feel open and welcoming to everyone. The Adirondack Diversity Initiative was created a few years ago to try and change that.

Tiffany Rea-Fisher is the new director of ADI. She’s been visiting the park for 20 years and has led the Lake Placid School of Dance since 2018. Rea-Fisher and her family split time between their homes in Saranac Lake and Harlem, and she says she’s approaching the new job with empathy and understanding.

EMILY RUSSELL: The Adirondacks are very white, pretty conservative and the Adirondack Park is just a very big place, which I imagine makes this position a really difficult one. Why were you drawn to this job? And why do you think you’re the person to do it?

TIFFANY REA-FISHER: There are lots of reasons why I was drawn to the job. First and foremost is that I have a daughter who I really want to feel a sense of belonging. I think lots of times, people of color don’t feel like they can be in nature, and that’s such a primal need and want. So the fact that that can sometimes get separated away from us is an issue. And part of me coming up early on [to the Adirondacks] is that I wanted to see more people like me.

All of my friends from Harlem have been here numerous times. I bring everybody up, and I do a tour around and introduce them to as many people as possible, to make things a little less scary, but also because it’s a beautiful, beautiful place. And I think if you’re looking at it from just the point of New Yorkers— all New Yorkers should be able to experience what their taxes paid for. Whether I’m the right person [for the job] or not, I am willing to do the work. So I am the person in this current moment that is dedicated and passionate. So we’ll see. I’m going to throw everything I have at it and I have a lot that I can throw at it.

Read or listen to the full story on North Country Public Radio.