Meghan Kelly is Founder and Principal of Green Motivate, a sustainability consulting business that assists environmental organizations in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs with a goal of behavior change. Meghan specializes in research design and strategy, including observational and formative research, interviews, and surveys, as well as providing professional development workshops and presentations on behavior change. Previously, Meghan was an environmental projects specialist for the City of Oakland, where she served as project manager for Oakland Earth Day and lead the Adopt a Spot program for parks. Meghan has an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, and is board co-president for Young Women Social Entrepreneurs-SF.
How did you become involved in your current career?
As an undergraduate, I studied the natural sciences– biology, animal science, wildlife conservation– and after working as an outdoor environmental educator, and then a classroom science teacher, I came to realize that just about all issues regarding the environment involve people. I wanted to explore that relationship further, and decided to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan, where I earned an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment with a focus on Behavior, Education, and Communication. I became especially interested in the behavior piece, and the wealth of research that exists regarding strategies that can effectively encourage people to behave in environmentally responsible ways. I learned that many environmental organizations have behavioral goals, but may not know the most effective ways to achieve that change—leading to my start in consulting.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
I work on many different environmental issues, but of course the one that spans across them all is climate change. In particular, I am concerned by the disconnect many people feel regarding their individual actions and the impact they can really have on climate change. Changes in personal and household behaviors have been shown to have big impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s my goal to not only make more people aware of that, but to also work with organizations looking to affect such changes among a wider audience.
What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?
Unfortunately, I think many of the same challenges that women face in other sectors, women are also facing in the environmental movement (such as lower pay and being overlooked for leadership positions.) I have personally become much more aware of these issues as I become a more seasoned professional, and have had to make a concerted effort to push back against those prejudices, not give into them. As far as opportunities, I am constantly impressed by other women in the environmental field making a big impact. In the San Francisco area in particular, there are so many smart, hardworking, passionate women working to make a difference. If you are looking to connect with more of them, I suggest going to a WEN event, or an event of the San Francisco Chapter of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector and the environmental movement?
There are so many great conferences and professional organizations out there! Some of my favorites include:
- The Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference is a great way to stay up to date with the latest research in the behavior and decision-making fields, particularly related to energy efficiency and a low-carbon future.
- International Social Marketing Association: Check this out if you’re interested in social marketing– marketing for social good related to the environment, health, or other areas that benefit society.
- Northern California Recycling Association and California Resource Recovery Association: If recycling and zero waste are more your thing, check out these California-based professional organizations. The latter puts on an annual conference that will be held in Sacramento this August.
- I recently got back from presenting at River Rally, a national conference organized by River Network. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in learning from and connecting with others on river or watershed-focused topics.