As a digital strategist, I spend 99% of my time behind my computer. My mornings begin by digesting environmental and political news from the day/night before. Part of my responsibilities include content curation for our social media and also to create relevant, timely actions for our members to take on local, state, and national environmental policies. Most days I have at least one call with other environmental and/or social justice organizations that may revolve around one particular issue (i.e. coal ash) or a broader focus (activities at the NC General Assembly). Between tweeting, writing email copy, checking-in with other team members on communications-related pieces, developing and monitoring campaigns, and writing more copy, the days go by quickly.
What are you working on right now?
Our state legislature is in session, so I’m focused on watching and sharing opportunities to either stop anti-conservation bills and provisions with our members or to laud the efforts of our environmental champions! We keep an eye on a wide-range of issues, from clean energy and energy-efficiency to safeguards protecting our drinking water supplies to budget allocations for state environmental and public health agencies. I’m also trying to grow my skills by engaging in building media relationships and pursuing more traditional communications methods outside of the digital space. It’s great that our members know about the issues that will have an impact on their lives - but we want all North Carolinians to understand what these bills mean to their families and neighborhoods too!
What was your path to get where you are today?
Not a well-worn one, that's for sure. After completing my undergraduate studies, I joined Teach For America, which is how I ended up in Eastern North Carolina (my placement region). I taught a special tract in NC's high school for students with mild to moderate disabilities called the Occupational Course of Study. Much of my instruction focused on job-training and general living skills -- everything from different forms of communication to balancing a budget. After my two-year commitment, I spent the next five years working in the special world of organ, eye and tissue donation. I had no personal connection to the cause - just happened to stumble across a position in 2009. I worked with families whose loved ones gave the gift of life to others through donation, and I also ended up working with volunteers and driver's license officers across the state of North Carolina. If you need a DMV recommendation, ask! After completing my Master of Public Administration coupled with not wanting to work from home anymore, I applied at the NC League of Conservation Voters and have been here since. It's been an awesome ride thus far!
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Having to be constantly on and constantly creative. There are times when I draw a complete blank as I sit down to write copy. It's hard to feel like you are not regurgitating the same phrases over and over again. And, it's difficult to translate policy, which is often wonky, to make it feel real to people. The truth is -- it is real! But it can be wrapped up in complicated jargon that requires me to first unpack it before I can talk about it to others.
How do you effectively balance your time?
I wouldn't say that I'm effective at balancing my time yet. It's a work in progress. I have abandoned crafting super long to-do lists. Those are self-defeating. I focus more on 2 - 3 priorities in a day, which is much more manageable AND you have the satisfaction of completing them. I use my calendar quite a bit and will block off time when I need to in order to get certain projects done.
What are five tools you use on a regular basis?
My brain; my trackball mouse (yes!); the coffee maker; Google Docs; and MeisterTask.
What is the best career advice you have been given?
I know this is cliche, but my dad always pushed me to make sure my career was in something that I would be willing to do for free. Simple but effective. And I feel fortunate that I'm fulfilling it.
Who or what inspires you?
First, I'm inspired by the current and former YNPN Triangle NC Board members. The organization requires so much time and energy - and people give it up for free and willingly because they believe in helping to support other leaders in their work and in their lives. Second, I'm inspired by my colleagues at the NC League of Conservation Voters. They work tirelessly to make the state and world a better place through their own areas of expertise. They are so smart and so compassionate. Third, I'm inspired by many of my colleagues in the environmental/conservation/social justice movement. The sheer amount of work and love they put into their outreach and education is tremendous. Finally, I'm inspired by best friend and husband Aaron. He has committed his life to supporting students during some of their most challenging times and find ways for them to grow and develop into thoughtful, well-rounded leaders. He also puts up with me, which is no easy task.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I saw a need and felt a drive. I think one of the coolest parts of working on behalf of protecting the environment is: it literally impacts every single person. We all need clean air, water, and land to function at our basic levels. Without that, no one can do their great work.
Who should we interview next?
Aiden Graham and Justine Oller - two of my colleagues at NC League of Conservation Voters who are two of the most amazing people I have ever met
Michelle Bermeo Betancourt, El Pueblo
Erin Byrd, BlueprintNC