“Sustainability” in Central Texas: A Native’s Perspective

For the past year, I’ve worked as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for CleanTX. During my tenure, Kathleen Baireuther and I have executed some new and exciting changes within the organization, all while interacting with some of the foremost cleantech professionals in the Austin community. I joined CleanTX shortly after returning to Central Texas once I completed a Master of International Affairs focused in Environmental Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Becoming involved with CleanTX provided me with excellent opportunities to re-engage with the Austin community during this time of sweeping change, in a city that was now less familiar and navigable to me than it had been just a few years before. While with CleanTX, I conducted partnership outreach and development, worked to implement new organizational structures, and managed the formation of our new Industry Inventory as part of our 2015 website relaunch, among a slew of other day-to-day tasks required to run an organization of our reach.

I’m leaving CleanTX this summer to pursue some other passions, rooted in my previous experience of community development, access to affordability, and neighborhood sustainability. I’ll be joining forces with two Austin-based endeavors, Greater Austin Neighborhoods and My Brilliant City, to work toward setting precedents in the way that Austin, and ultimately all of Central Texas, build and structure communities – ensuring that the core elements shaping our communities combine both preservation and advancement in ways that are dynamic and inventive. 

I studied and worked in the international economic development field for years, for organizations that were founded on the idea that local knowledge and participation were necessary in order to facilitate any lasting or substantial transformation. I also observed the ways in which regional economic struggles were intertwined with surrounding environmental challenges, and I started to shift my focus from solely human consequences to ecological ones as well.

While I found immense purpose and gratitude in the work, I started to consider what I could do in my own community – an idea that I realized had been instilled in me through my pursuits abroad. Growing up in Central Texas, appreciation for the intricate environmental systems around you comes naturally. While completing my graduate studies, I became aware that nearly every case study where I was able to choose the region, I was choosing what I was most familiar with, ultimately leading me to decide to return home and focus on shaping a place that I believe is truly special and energetic.