Then & Now Blog Series
Welcome to WEN Then & Now. In honor of WEN’s 20th anniversary in 2017, we’re reconnecting with our former board members, thinking about how our organization has evolved and grown, and planning for our next transformation. Follow along with us in this blog series as we spotlight these inspiring women. Our first post featured Jenn Fox. For our second post, WEN board member Shari Pomerantz met with Darcey Rosenbatt, one of WEN’s earliest board members. They chatted about why WEN was founded, some of its earliest events, and the process of snail-mailing hundreds of newsletters. Read more about how WEN opened up networking and job opportunities for women and Darcey’s inspiration for her first novel (coming out August 2017)! Enjoy!
About Darcey Rosenblatt
Darcey Rosenblatt holds over 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She has particular expertise in large area land management and park planning, as well as water quality and water supply management. She currently works for Dudek in the Marin office. In addition to private consulting, she has worked for the Trust for Public Land and for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water. Darcey holds expertise in public outreach, mediation and negotiation of environmental policy and siting disputes.
Q&A with Darcey Rosenblatt
How did you discover WEN, and why did you join the WEN Board? When were you a Board Member?
I met WEN’s Founder, Elena Eger, through a business connection while she was in the first year or two of forming WEN. I was intrigued by the idea of a network for women in the environmental professions because I felt there were places where men traditionally came together to discuss work outside of work, but there were fewer opportunities for women. I’m not exactly sure of my dates, but I think I was on the WEN Board from 1996 to 2005.
What was WEN’s role in the community in the 90s?
We had the newsletter. We did some news dissemination in the newsletter, but it was primarily a job sharing source – and this was before email. We had to fold and bulk mail the newsletter – seems like ancient times! We also had three to four social networking events every year and would often include a speaker at these events.
How has WEN changed since then?
It seems the biggest change is the ability to use the internet and email to disseminate information and communicate. Doing that “by hand” took up a lot of our volunteer time.
What were some of your favorite WEN events from its earlier years?
For several years we had an annual networking event at Tom Leaf’s winery in Berkeley. Tom was an environmental planner turned winemaker. He turned over his small winery space over to us and provided us with his excellent wine. It was great fun. We also had a great event at the Lindsay Wildlife museum that included a tour of the museum, networking time, and a speaker on sustainable investing. These were memorable events even after a decade or so!
Which other organizations have you worked with? Which organizations are you active with today?
I was on the National Board of the Coastal Society for several years. For close to a decade I was also on a committee that ran the annual National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) conference. I also taught CEQA/NEPA at San Francisco State University for several years (which was in addition to my day job and almost volunteer). These days my volunteer responsibilities are more centered on my fiction writing. I’m mentoring pre-published writers and run a small annual workshop focused on children’s novel writing.
Can you tell us more about your book? What inspired you to write, and how did you choose your topic and audience?
My debut novel, LOST BOYS, is coming out in August (!!!) I don’t know why I chose to write for middle grade and teenage people. Maybe because I believe for them stories can be life changing – they were for me. The book is based on historical facts. LOST BOYS tells the story of Reza, a 12-year old Iranian boy who lives for music and hanging out with friends. Then the Revolution of 1979 and the Iran/Iraq war take away not only his music but too many people he loves. In his despair and at his mother’s urging, he signs up to fight. Soon he finds himself in an Iraqi prisoner of war camp where he must find a way, through music and friendship, to forge his own path.
The idea for this story came to me like lightning one day while I was listening to Terry Gross on NPR. It came complete with one of those spine-tingling, goose bump-filled moments that writers learn not to ignore. Then, for months, I did my best to run away. I ran because I was afraid this wasn’t my story to tell. I‘ve never been a 12-year-old boy. I’m not Muslim. Still, I’ve always been fascinated by the journey we take from the religious ideas and practices of our parents to owning our own beliefs. For boys like Reza, this coming-of-age experience was tangled with war. So with help from some first hand sources I did my best to do justice to this story. I’ll be giving talks at several Bay Area book stores in September. Follow me on Facebook for updates! The topic for my next book is a little closer to my own experience: it will be about the California water wars.
Can you tell us more about your current professional life?
I’ve always been an environmental consultant with a focus on water and large area land management (parks and open space, stewardship issues). I worked for ESA (Environmental Science Associates) for about 20 years and have been happily working at Dudek for the last four years. I like the variety that consulting brings even though it is a life long learning effort to master the work/life balance.
Are there connections you made through WEN that helped or influenced you professionally?
Over the years, I think it was most valuable when I had the opportunity to work with women I had previously met through WEN. Sometimes, this was as simple as seeing a familiar face at a conference or a pre-bid meeting. On some occasions, I actually had the opportunity to work on projects with other WEN members.
What skills and experiences did you gain with WEN?
I honed organizational skills and learned how to network. WEN provided a network that was less stressful because we’d all come together to support each other.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector and the environmental movement?
The one thing I wished we’d been able to do better in my WEN days was to set up and engage in meaningful mentoring. We talked about it but never got it off the ground. In my professional life I still don’t see enough women in science, especially women of color. I still think mentoring could be extremely valuable at the middle school level where interests are just beginning. If there was traction behind this idea I’d love to help out!