Leavitt’s mission as the regional director of Brown Girls Climb is twofold: to encourage diversity in the climbing world via a steadfast collective of women climbers of color and to make the sport more accessible to marginalized communities.
“We wanted to build a space to learn, ask questions without second-guessing yourself or second-guessing your abilities, and push the narrative that we’ve always been in the outdoors,” the 31-year-old Hyattsville resident says.
The membership-based community was founded by climber Bethany Lebewitz four years ago and hosts meetups around the country. New and experienced climbers can connect and support one another during indoor and outdoor climbing excursions and other bonding events. Since the pandemic hit, the collective has stayed active through its app and Zoom events covering a broad range of topics including environmental policy and addressing racist and discriminatory climbing route names.
“As a group, we’re still growing and learning, and I’m learning as well,” says Leavitt. “We want to make sure that when we’re entering in these spaces that we’re trying to incorporate all perspectives and stories as well.” Besides Brown Girls Climb, Leavitt is an educator at Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center and part of several outdoor organizations, including serving on the board of directors for the American Mountain Guides Association.
On Leavitt’s dream day, the weather would be perfect for running, restaurant hopping and, of course, climbing.
I’m a coffee connoisseur, so the first thing I would do is wake up and make some coffee. I live right by Vigilante Coffee, and they have really great coffee beans. Since this is the dream world, I would hop on the Metro and head into the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. That’s where my classroom is, and I like to get there super early so I can go through the exhibitions and exhibit halls before school starts and before the museum opens. I would still go to the Smithsonian museums on the weekend too, especially if it’s the National Portrait Gallery or the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
I love to hang out at the Mall. Running around the Tidal Basin, especially in the springtime, is one of my favorite things to do. Afterward, for food, I will go downtown to one of my favorite ramen spots, Daikaya, and sit at the bar and get my favorite hot miso with extra veggies. For coffee, the Coffee Bar on 12th Street (I spent a lot of time sitting in the window after work and on the weekends) and Kintsugi at Eaton DC.
I would also climb at Earth Treks in Crystal City, which is normally my training spot for climbing and where pre-covid we’d often host BGC Climb meetups. During my time working as an instructor for REI, I would teach either at Great Falls National Park or Carderock, which are great spots to learn about climbing outside or for people who are unable to travel out far.
Loyalty Bookstore is one of my favorite bookshops, especially for children’s books because I’m a teacher, so I often buy more books for my classrooms and myself. I’m also really big into music, so oftentimes you’ll find me at the 9:30 Club. Black Cat and Rock and Roll Hotel [now permanently closed] are also prime spots for shows especially focused on punk, alternative and local music scenes. I saw some of my favorite shows at Rock and Roll Hotel [such as] the band called Woods. Last year I saw the Joy Formidable for their 10-year tour for “A Balloon Called Moaning.”