Q&A: Dennis Mabasa on community and outdoor connections


Dennis Mabasa

Dennis Mabasa is the dynamic new Vice President of Community and Youth Programs for the Parks Conservancy. They join us from the Friends of the Los Angeles River, where they most recently served as Chief Operating Officer. We chatted with Dennis about their connection to the outdoors and the importance of community. 

How have green spaces been important in your life?  

Growing up, my family would go wherever we could drive to on weekends and vacations. My parents didn’t have a particular affinity for nature, but spending time picnicking or playing outside at local or regional parks was always a low-cost and accessible option for family time. I just remember spending time outside with my brothers and I remember everything I felt in those moments: Being inspired to learn, and, most of all, being happy. 

You immigrated from the Philippines as a child. Did that change how you interacted with the world around you?  

As a bi-racial immigrant, I had the privilege of experiencing life through various cultural lenses. As a kid, it was energizing and exciting to learn about and experience different cultures and lived experiences. At an early age I learned that, though families may come from different sides of the world, many of us share the same needs.    

What does it mean to you to work in support of a national park?  

Within my role, I have a unique opportunity to work with a team of people and partners to build strong relationships with communities that have been historically and systemically excluded from the healing benefits of nature. This includes people like myself: queer people, immigrants, people of color, and folks that haven’t had the opportunities to experience nature and our national parks for various reasons.  

What do you think our work in the parks can accomplish? 

I came to care about nature because of the positive experiences I had outside in my childhood. Often, we need to be shown these green spaces by family, by teachers, or by mentors. What an honor and privilege it is to build systems that connect people to a world that can bring so much joy, community, and healing.  

Who were important mentors in your life?  

My first mentors were my family, specifically my parents, titos/titas, cousins, and my two older brothers. They taught me the value of community, education, and the value of supporting each other. 

A woman stands in front of a tree in the southern hemisphere.

Beatrice Kilat is the Media & Public Affairs Manager for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy's Marketing and Communications Team.

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