I think there's a lot more strategy involved in being a grant writer/fundraiser than people suppose. It isn't just about being a good writer and meeting deadlines, but about building relationships with people to figure out where your organizational values overlap with theirs and how you can best work together to achieve common goals.
Who is your hero?
Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Her work toward women's empowerment, conservation, and democracy is a testament to what one can accomplish with a good idea, a strong will, and loads of courage. Also Yvon Chouinard, environmentalist, outdoor enthusiast, and founder of Patagonia. He is a visionary and trailblazer for anyone interested in operating a conscientious, responsible business. He is willing to take risks to ensure his company lives up to its mission and brand, and gives back generously to causes that are in line with his values as well as those of his company and its customers. Finally, American author Wendell Berry. Berry has always been, for me, a strong, clear voice that speaks out for environmental responsibility, equality, and hard work. He's not afraid to say exactly what he believes.
What has been your greatest success at work?
My greatest success at Global Green is the work I assisted with through our Build It Back Green program. The program allowed us to make direct positive impacts on the lives of low-income families in New Orleans by providing free or subsidized weatherization assistance. The families we met through that program were all wonderful and gracious, and gave me -- a non-native -- great insight from a local's perspective on what makes this city great and where we need to continue to push for positive change.
What about a failure or challenge at work?
A recent challenge has been the loss of funding for the Build It Back Green program. Many philanthropies are moving away from dedicated charitable giving, focusing on long-term, self-sustaining efforts. We are currently exploring ways to incorporate a low-income component into our NOLA Wise program and it has forced the entire team to get creative and innovative in how we design our programs and the channels we look to for funding.
Favorite green book?
"Cadillac Desert" by Marc Reisner. It was one of the first books on environmentalism I read and really got my wheels spinning about how humans try to bend the environment to our will.
Favorite green movie?
"Gasland." Being from the Midwest and having a relative who works on a fracking field, there's been some quiet back and forth in my family about fracking. This movie really lays the issue bare in an indisputable way, and shows the environmental and human costs of fracking.
Favorite way to spend a free day?
I've been in New Orleans three years now, but my favorite way to spend a free day is still exploring the city. There are so many interesting nooks and crannies, and there is always some sort of festival going on. I love to hop on my bike or lace up my running shoes and explore NOLA.
If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?
It's a tall order, but I would make people reconsider our throw-away, consumerist culture and focus on quality, durability, and need. Unfortunately, this mindset is permeating around the globe as countries "develop," looking to western countries as the desired standard of living. If we could all learn to do with less junk and really think about our decisions as consumers -- everything from food, to clothing, to technology -- we could greatly reduce our impact on the earth.