Jamie Beck Alexander — Director, Drawdown Labs at Project Drawdown
Jamie is a climate activist, mom, and founding director of Project Drawdown’s Drawdown Labs – a consortium of private sector partners working to go beyond ‘net zero’ to scale climate solutions in the world, within and outside their own operations. Jamie joined the Project Drawdown team from Ceres, where she led corporate engagement on the West Coast, working with companies to set ambitious emission reduction targets and leveraging their influence in support of strong climate and clean energy policies.
Previously, Jamie served as a civil and foreign service officer with USAID in Bangladesh, India, and Tanzania. Focused on malaria, HIV/AIDS, and other infectious diseases, she led an agency-wide effort to better integrate local solutions and voices into foreign aid programming and decision making. She has also worked with the UN Office of the Secretary-General and indigenous peoples in the US, Amazon, and Andes.
Discuss any mentors who have helped or inspired you to reach your aspirations.
I can’t overstate the importance of mentors in my life – both in helping me reach my aspirations and helping me figure out how I can bring my full, genuine self to the work. My career path has been meandering, but when I look back on it now I can see clearly how all of my experiences and teachers weave together and are part of who I am and where I’m going.
My family back home in Pennsylvania taught me, through our differences, how to build bridges across divides. My friends and colleagues in Bangladesh showed me the deep wisdom and resilience that comes from locally-led solutions. And the young people – both the youth climate activists and my own two young children – give me courage to be bolder and braver, and remind me why this work matters so much.
What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?
I’ve only recently begun to acknowledge how much I’ve covered up what you might call ‘traditional feminine qualities’ in the workplace. I’m sure I’m not alone. In my last few jobs I often felt that I had to check my emotion about the climate crisis at the door when I came to work. That working on climate change meant a focus on facts, figures, and “making the business case,” but ignoring the human and emotional side of what is essentially a deeply human issue. Now, given the severity of the crisis and how many people want to contribute to solving it, it’s clear that we must enable the work to happen everywhere, at all levels, and for the work to take a much broader shape than we’ve ever imagined. Being a part of the broadening of this work is one of the things that most excites me right now.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector of the environmental movement?
When most people think about the term ‘climate change’ they tend to immediately think about the impacts of the crisis, like hurricanes and wildfires, or the causes of climate change, like fossil fuels. But what if we instead thought of the biggest solutions to the climate crisis? What if, when we look around us, we could actually envision the equitable, sustainable world that we all know is possible? In that vision, each of us can contribute our unique skills to help bring about that world.
That’s what excites me about our work at Project Drawdown. When viewed through a lens of solutions, it opens up many more people, ideas, and skillsets that can be brought to bear. What’s yours?
Want to connect with Jamie? Connect with her personally on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. And enjoy some of her writing on corporate climate leadership and who we may be when we finally emerge from the pandemic.