Beth Waitkus, MSOD ’04

Beth believes that “everybody has a heart and everybody has a chance for transformation.” ABC News featured Beth in a segment about her work at prisons to rehabilitate inmates and to teach them basic landscaping skills that they can use to get jobs.

Beth founded and manages the Insight Garden Program (IGP) at San Quentin Prison. There, she rehabilitates prisoners through the process of organic gardening. The IGP provides men with a post-release continuum of care focused on landscaping, gardening, and green jobs. By connecting with nature, participants learn vocational and life skills enabling them to practice constructive relationships between themselves, their communities, and the natural environment, and to become productive members of society. Since 2001, more than 1,000 prisoners have participated in the IGP.

Beth has integrated years of developing, managing, and implementing social marketing and strategic communications campaigns with her background in organizational development. She is committed to transforming people, communities, and organizations through connection to the natural world. Read more about Beth and the Insight Garden Program here.

As part of her graduate research thesis, The Impact of a Garden on the Social Climate and Physical Environment of a Prison Yard at San Quentin State Prison, Beth discovered that the garden is the only place on the prison yard where all races mix freely without fear of retribution. In 2011, the IGP conducted a recidivism study of 117 men who had been paroled between 2003 and 2009, and found that less than 10% returned to prison or jail within a three-year timeframe compared to the state’s 70% recidivism rate.

Beth, who serves as a classroom facilitator, is in the planning phases of replicating her program at other jails and prisons.

Beth won accolades for her prison work as runner-up for the Agape Foundation’s Peace Prize, has been featured in Bay Area print and broadcast media, and is featured in the book, Eco Amazons: 20 Women Who are Transforming the World by Dorka Keehn.

Through her consulting practice, Beth Waitkus Consulting, Beth facilitates processes to align stakeholders, develop and implement strategic plans, build teams, and map and align internal and external networks. She has worked domestically and internationally with business leaders, management teams, and non-profit organizations to support organizational effectiveness and change. In the realm of strategic communications, she has facilitated processes for effective messaging and positioning, and has conducted target audience and competitive analysis as well as extensive media and community outreach. Her unusual combination of organizational development and communication skills allows clients to achieve success from the inside out.

Prior to launching her consulting practice in 2000, Beth managed media outreach campaigns for philanthropic organizations and international technology accounts at Blanc & Otus Public Relations, a Hill & Knowlton company. She has also planned and implemented social marketing programs for the U.S. Departments of Labor (Job Corps), Justice, and Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

 

Beth Waitkus, MSOD ’04

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