About the Initiative

Coalitions & Collaboratives (COCO) is partnering with the US Forest Service and a team of national and regional nonprofits to deliver Community Navigator services. Community Navigators supports frontline communities to access federal funding opportunities to build capacity in climate resiliency. 

COCO CNI Services

Community support
Identifying opportunities for communities to engage with a wide variety of new and existing funding programs
grant asst
Providing guidance to community groups on completing high-quality grant proposals and partnership arrangements. Supporting post-award financial and reporting compliance mentorship.
implm guidance
Building capacity within underserved communities to find funding and navigate programs and partnerships that can support adaptation and resilience.

Meet the Team

Thérèse d’Auria Ryley

Community navigator program Director

Thérèse (Tess) is dedicated to a restorative justice approach to climate resiliency and is passionate about designing equitable programs, trainings, and tools. Prior to joining COCO, Tess served as Program Director for the Southwest Conservation Corps, Los Valles based in Salida, Colorado where she collaborated with staff to develop the Leaders of Color program, a nationally recognized initiative that prepares BIPOC young adults for careers in natural resources. She was a 2021-22 Keystone Policy Center Systems Impact Institute Fellow where she collaborated with non-profit colleagues to address systemic inequities impacting Colorado’s youth. Previously, Tess worked for PowerCorpsPHL, in her home city of Philadelphia, applying the Conservation Corps model to reduce gun violence and foster resilient communities and healthy urban forests. Tess also worked for Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) as part of an interdisciplinary team to develop long-term, climate-adaptive strategies and short-term emergency response systems for food producers throughout Senegal. Her publications from this work can be found in journals such as Sustainability and Climate Risk Management. She earned her Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Florida, with a focus on social networks and climate adaptation, and she speaks French, Spanish, and Wolof. Tess proudly serves on the Board of Directors for San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLVGO!). In her free time, Tess enjoys running all the mountain trails and reading all the fiction.

Grants & account Director

Michaele has earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a Non-profit Organization Management Certificate from Central Washington University. This education pathway augments her valuable work experience in grant coordination and implementation with two land-grant universities. While serving the State of Tennessee as a Wildfire Mitigation Contractor, Michaele brought a unique passion and inspiration to communities working to reduce wildfire risk. Building capacity through strategic collaboration is one of her greatest assets, and she realizes the value of activated partnerships for effective conservation. Michaele works remotely from the beautiful hills of East Tennessee. Her time usually involves an outdoor adventure in the mountains with her family.

Jedidiah Lomax


Jedidiah Lomax (he/him) was born in Philly and went on to study Biology at Susquehanna University in central PA. After graduating with a B.S. in biology he entered the conservation field in the fall of 2020 with AmeriCorps NCCC Southern region as a member of the forestry/fire module for a year of service. In the summer of 2021, he moved to Colorado to join SCC Los Valles as an inaugural member of the Leaders of Color (LOC). He continued to work in the conservation field using his experience to serve as a resource for technical skill training for his community. With this in mind, he continues his career as a community navigator fellow to develop the skills to develop resources and programs for underserved communities. 

Mikayla Pryor

Community Navigator Program Fellow

Mikayla is a Gullah native of Charleston, SC. She was the last graduate to receive a Bachelor of Science in Professional and Technical Communications from Dakota State University. She previously worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta on their communications team and the Forbes-listed public relations agency Berlin Rosen, helping other nonprofits with their communication strategies. Her work in stewardship led to environmentalism when she became the first Resource Assistant of the Resource Assistants Program staff for the US Forest Service. She has a senior Beagle mix named Raleigh, loves rock hunting, and practices the circus art of aerial hoop in Las Vegas, NV.

Navigator Partners

Watershed Research and Training Center

The Watershed Research and Training Center is a nonprofit organization located in the heart of Trinity County, California. WRTC operates at the local, state, and national scales to steward our landscape, create and sustain quality jobs, and connect people to the landscape and each other. As part of this work, we steward the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, which supports, trains, resources, and connects people and communities working on wildfire resilience.


Hispanic Access Foundation

Hispanic Access Foundation establishes bridges of access that provide a path for the development and rise of Latino leaders and elevates their voices in areas where they are underrepresented. Their program will serve as a bridge between 1,200+ Latino-serving community-based/Spanish-speaking organizations, and those at high risk of wildfires and extreme climate change, and the U.S. Forest Service.


Federation of Southern Cooperatives

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is a 57-year-old regional cooperative and rural economic development organization serving a membership of Black farmers, landowners, cooperatives, and other low-income rural people in the South with coop development, land retention, and advocacy.


First Nations Development Institute

The First Nations Development Institute’s mission is to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities by investing in and creating innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities.


American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association

Founded in 1998, AIANTA was established by tribes for tribes to address inequities in the tourism system. AIANTA’s mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tourism that honors traditions and values.


Get Involved

CNI Scholarship Program – Available until funds are exhausted
Coalitions & Collaboratives’ CNI Scholarship Program provides scholarships up to $2,000 for staff operating in organizations that primarily serve historically underserved communities to pursue professional development opportunities. Scholarship funds can cover tuition, travel, and lodging fees associated with trainings. Learn more here.

Community Catalyst FundApplications are now CLOSED. Please stay in touch and up-to-date on the next release through our newsletter.
The Community Catalyst Fund aims to strengthen community-serving organizations with increasing capacity towards climate resilience. Awards range from $10,000 to $150,000, providing substantial support for initiatives focused on leading communities to climate resilience. This funding opportunity is designed to accommodate projects of various sizes and scopes, including: capacity building through training, development and staffing; navigation program delivery; knowledge sharing through stories and resource exchange. See RFA for more information.

A recording to the Community Catalyst Fund Q&A session held April 30, 2024 can be found here (passcode: U11Nph+&)

Calendar of Events
Our CNI Calendar of Events captures upcoming application deadlines, trainings, events, and more to keep you on track and ready for the next opportunity.

CNI Newsletter
To stay in touch about Community Navigators and future happenings, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Request Navigator Assistance
Fill out a CNI request form if you need a brainstorming session, have questions about funding opportunities, need additional resources, or would like another set of eyes to review your application.

Provide Feedback
Have you worked with a Community Navigator and want to share feedback? We’d love to hear feedback on support services you’ve received from the Community Navigator Program. Your response will be used to improve our future services. We truly appreciate your insight and your time.

Information gathered via the CNI request form and feedback form is used by our staff to better assist communities. Data collected is not used by the USDA Forest Service or any other government agency.

Stay up to date on the Community Navigator Initiative by joining our MAILING LIST.