Ashley is busy caring for fraternal twin boys, although she plans to re-enter the work force soon. Prior to having twins, Ashley worked as an Associate Attorney with Lawyers for Clean Water, Inc., where she had previously worked while attending night law school. Before returning to Lawyers for Clean Water, Ashley volunteered at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she worked on the India Initiative. During law school, she interned at the Center for Biological Diversity and worked as a certified student clinician at Golden Gate School of Law’s Environmental Law and Justice Clinic.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
Two environmental issues that highly concern me are climate change and the increasing loss of biodiversity.
What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?
I think one challenge to mothers in the environmental movement is being able to balance a pro-environment career with the financial challenges and time constraints of raising a family. I am currently confronted by the prospect of finding a position, which will allow me to make positive change for the environment, spend time with my children, and be able to afford childcare.
There are many opportunities for women in the environmental movement including leadership and collaborative roles. However, women still face discrimination in the work place and often a “double burden” between home and work responsibilities. Because the environmental movement is such a tightly knit community, it is critical for women to help other women by sharing opportunities and connections. It is also important for women in all fields to both advocate for other women and for themselves.
Do you feel that you’ve had to make tough decisions related to your career and having children?
Yes, I think any mom (or dad) has to make career sacrifices to have a family, especially with the limited maternity/paternity leaves offered in the United States. I do not think it means you need to sacrifice your values or give up on your career, but having children definitely influences your career decisions. Once a parent, you begin to pay closer attention to the proximity of the workplace to your home, whether the salary will allow you to afford child care, and whether the position will provide you with adequate time to spend with your children.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector and the environmental movement?
The public interest environmental law sector is very small, and even though it is growing, the sector remains a small community. The best way to become involved in the environmental law community, or the environmental movement in general, is to network by going to environmental events (like WEN events or other events in the community), as well as attending conferences in your environmental area of interest. In my opinion, two of the best annual environmental law conferences are the State Bar’s Yosemite Conference and the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon.
Some ways to become involved in the movement in general are to work in the movement, volunteer your time, educate yourself about current environmental issues, and/or donate to environmental organizations. While there are many volunteer opportunities, one that comes to mind is joining a non-profit board. When looking for volunteer opportunities, it is advantageous to focus your efforts by reaching out to one or two environmental organizations that you really care about so that you can become more informed about the particular issues that they work on and get to know the organization staff and other members. Lastly, we must not forget the power of personal choices, like buying local organic food, voting for politicians that value the environment, modeling strong environmental choices for your children and friends, spending time in the woods, and driving less.