In Spotlights

kellyKelly is a Project Manager at the California State Coastal Conservancy in the San Francisco Bay Program where she manages projects ranging from climate adaptation, to wetland restoration, sustainable agriculture, and trail projects. Previously, she was a California State Sea Grant fellow, and before that spent roughly 5 years in the non-profit sector working in environmental health and conservation. Kelly has a BA in French Linguistics, and a MPA in Environmental Policy and Management.

How did you become involved in your current career?

A French BA to a career in conservation might seem like a leap, but looking back at my path I realize how important each step and each connection was along the way. During the pursuit of my undergraduate degree I was a member of the student environmental coalition where one of our main campaigns was to ban bottled water on campus. Through the coalition I met a woman named Marta, who then hired me on to intern at Clean Water Action where I spent a summer of canvassing and call nights working to close coal-fired power plants in Michigan. My passion for environmental issues grew during the internship and I decided to pursue a position at an environmental health non-profit where I was an outreach worker for 2 years. I had always wanted to return to graduate school, so decided to pursue an MPA with a focus on environmental policy at an international school where I could incorporate my love for French. During and after my Masters I had several other stints at non-profits working on things like environmental policy in California and marine debris. I landed a California State Sea Grant Fellowship, was placed at the Conservancy, and then hired on after my fellowship year.

What environmental issues are of most concern to you?

Climate change! In my day-to-day I do a lot of work around sea level rise adaptation, and it is clear we need to do more to prepare for climate impacts, and even more to mitigate and decrease emissions. We need to change behavior and start living more sustainable lives, and I think all of us in the environmental sector can set these good examples. I am also a strong believer in a federal carbon tax as a great way to start curbing emissions.

What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?

I learned at a WEN ‘Women in Leadership’ conference that though our numbers are rising in the environmental sector, we are still largely second-in-command, so I think our biggest challenge is breaking through this glass ceiling to fill more leadership positions. Thankfully, especially in the Bay Area, we have access to great networks like WEN that can help connect women in the environmental sector, grow networks, provide support, and increase opportunities for us to move forward in our individual careers, as well as the environmental sector as a whole.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector and the environmental movement?

Climate adaptation and resilience is a fairly new field, so it’s a great time to start! Look for internships or fellowships with cities, counties, organizations, and agencies with a sustainability officer or climate change program. Join professional networks such as WEN or the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, go to events, take classes, volunteer, and network!