WELC Blog: Nice to Meet You!
I was shaking so many hands and meeting so many new faces, it was getting hard to remember everyone’s name. As folks continued to arrive for the Western Environmental Law Center’s 20th anniversary donor appreciation event at the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, one thought kept running through my mind: our donors are truly committed to defending the natural heritage of the American West.
It was a typical Thursday night in February and WELC’s supporters could have been preoccupied with a million different things—caring for their children, running their businesses, paying the household bills, and myriad other duties that fill our lives. They could have decided that they were too busy to make it, that they just didn’t have the time. But, instead, they had come to the museum to meet with WELC staff, to chat with fellow supporters, and to celebrate 20 years of fighting for the West’s environment and communities.
This was my introduction to the people that help make WELC’s important work possible. Just a few days earlier I joined the group’s Eugene, Oregon office as its new Director of Donor Relations. Now, I was talking with our dedicated supporters and learning more about their commitment to WELC’s mission.
The opportunity to engage with our donors and learn more about their concerns was invaluable. I left the museum that evening feeling excited to be working for an organization taking on the toughest environmental issues facing the West and to begin developing relationships with our supporters.
For me, working at WELC is not just another job.
Growing up in the Tehachapi Mountains at the southern tip of California’s San Joaquin Valley, I was privileged to hike the region’s oak woodlands and to sled down the snowy slopes of its mountains. At the same time, I was exposed to the environmental destruction wrought by the area’s primary economic drivers: the oil industry and industrial agriculture. The skies over nearby Bakersfield—the big city for us mountain folk—were perpetually clouded with yellow-brown smog and the landscape was dotted with seemingly endless oil drilling operations. As a youth, the pollution of the region’s environment felt almost like a forgone conclusion; it was simply the way things were.
Later, in college, I learned that when it came to the destruction of our environment, the way things were could be changed. I studied environmental policy and law, and decided to pursue a career in helping to protect the special places, wildlife, and communities that were so important to me. This path led me to work for Northern California’s Environmental Protection Information Center and for Earthjustice.
Now, at WELC, I am able to continue defending the West alongside intelligent, hard-working colleagues who share my passion. I am very lucky to be a part of an organization with such a dedicated group of supporters that I will have the honor of getting to know personally. In partnership together, I know we can make real progress defending our treasured landscapes, iconic wildlife, and rural communities.