Environmental Leadership Chronicles

Environmental Leadership Chronicles is brought to you by the California Association of Environmental Professionals. We interview leaders in the environmental industry to share information about their career development beyond the technical work. This podcast is for anyone who is interested in any and all things within the environmental profession.

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4 days ago

In this episode, I am again joined by co-host, Konnie Dobreva and we feature Audrey Zagazeta, President & CEO of Circlepoint. 
Audrey has decades of experience in environmental planning, working in both the public and private sectors. She has managed multi-disciplinary projects for local municipalities and private developers, providing innovative and sustainable solutions to a variety of environmental challenges. 
Under her leadership, Circlepoint has a renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and within the communities they serve. She understands the importance of fostering an inclusive environment that embraces diverse perspectives and experiences, allowing for more comprehensive and impactful solutions.  
Join us as we learn about Audrey's journey to becoming a CEO and her approach to leadership.

6 days ago

In this episode, we feature Michael Brandman, former President & CEO of Michael Brandman Associates. Michael is a pioneer in the environmental industry; in 1974, Michael was one of the original founders of the Association of Environmental Professionals and served as the California AEP State President in 1983. His journey closely aligned with the environmental movement, witnessing the establishment of crucial policies such as CEQA, NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act.
In 1982, Michael started Michael Brandman Associates, a consulting firm that provided expertise in environmental compliance at the local, state, and federal level. Over the course of 30 years in business, they successfully completed over 8,000 projects and employed a team of 65 individuals. In 2012, Michael Brandman Associates was acquired by First Carbon Solutions, cementing their impact in the industry. 
During this conversation, Michael shares his insights on the opportunities AEP provides for leadership, training, and mentorship, as well as the driving force behind the establishment of AEP's Code of Ethics. While he has retired, Michael remains engaged with AEP, continuing to contribute his wisdom and expertise to the field he helped shape. 
It was a true pleasure to speak with Michael, we hope you enjoy this episode! 

Thursday May 18, 2023

In this episode, we feature Julie Regan, Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). We recorded this episode onsite at the 2023 AEP State Conference, just a few minutes after Julie stepped off the stage from giving her keynote address. 
Julie is a seasoned leader in communications, government affairs, and environmental conservation, with decades of experience in both the public and private sectors. In 2022, she was appointed Executive Director of TRPA - the first environmental interstate compact agency of its kind in the United States. TRPA is charged with protecting the breathtaking Lake Tahoe – the second deepest lake in the United States and the ancestral home of the native Washoe people.  
Julie has been instrumental in finding a balance between environmental preservation and sustaining a thriving $5-billion dollar tourist-based economy at Lake Tahoe. 
Julie earned her master's degree in journalism from Temple University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in environmental science at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is focusing her research around the intersection of science and public policy.  
She is also a past Co-Chair of the nationally-focused Network for Landscape Conservation and has contributed to the global discussion on over-tourism through her writings on destination stewardship. 
We had a great time speaking with Julie to learn about her experience and leadership principles. Thanks for listening, and we hope you enjoy this episode! 

Tuesday May 09, 2023

In this episode, we hear from attendees at the 2023 AEP Conference: Mountain Vibes & Lake Blues in Lake Tahoe.
We've compiled a series of short clips from a variety of conference-goers sharing their experience. Over the course of the conference, we had the opportunity to speak with a variety of attendees, including environmental scientists, policy experts, planners, and many others. Each person had their own unique perspective and experiences to share, shedding light on the pressing issues, innovative approaches, and inspiring stories from the world of environmental professionals.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy these firsthand accounts of the AEP conference. And who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to attend the next one yourself!

Tuesday Apr 25, 2023

Corinne Lytle Bonine and Konnie Dobreva join the podcast to discuss the launch of the new AEP Mentorship Program.
The AEP Mentorship Program offers an opportunity to be both mentee and mentor at the same time and has been designed to provide maximum flexibility and opportunities for our members. The AEP Mentorship Program consists of both programmed and at-will opportunities. The at-will option will allow mentors to search our member database for potential mentors who have designated themselves to be interested in mentoring. The programmed option will guide either 1-1 Mentor/Mentee pairs or peer groups on a 9-session curriculum together. AEP knows that business is better with diverse teams and strongly believes that mentoring can be too.
Learn more here: https://www.califaep.org/mentorship_program.php

Monday Apr 17, 2023

In this episode, we feature Mikey Knab, Director of Policy at Climate Action Campaign. Mikey is a values-driven professional with over 15 years of leadership level experience in both non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.
He’s skilled at building teams, program and operation management, policy advocacy, strategic communication, and fundraising. He started working as a dishwasher when he was 15 years old. He worked his way up through all positions in restaurants, eventually working as Director of Operations for the Meza Family Restaurant Group, which he helped expand from one small unit in the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego to three units. Under Mikey's leadership, these units became certified Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurants, California State Senate Small Business of the Year award recipients, plastic-free and zero-waste champions, and San Diego Workforce Partnership Employer of the Year winners.
Mikey believes in an equitable and just world where all can thrive, and that is not possible without bold action to address the climate crisis as you’ll hear from him in this episode.

Wednesday Apr 12, 2023

In this episode, Corinne Lytle Bonine joins as a guest co-host and we feature Julie Johnstone, Associate Director of Design with Great Ecology. Julie is an accomplished landscape designer with 10 years of experience with a dual Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from Cornell University. Julie’s project experience includes master plans, feasibility studies, K-12/Higher Ed campuses and site design, park and trail planning/design, and commercial campus landscapes. Her current focus is on developing landscape designs and master plans which simultaneously address diverse community needs while promoting ecological balance and restoration. She has designed and implemented public participation strategies for comprehensive plans, waterfront master plans, and recreation feasibility studies. Julie uses her background in psychology, planning, and landscape design to promote cohesive and collaborative teams. While the practical elements of design and planning are at the forefront of her mind, Julie has a keen eye for design and enjoys conceptual design iterations – which she discusses in this episode.

Thursday Apr 06, 2023

This episode is a panel featuring Bill Halligan, Matt Klopfenstein, and Kristin Blackson discussing their work with the AEP Legislative Review Committee. 
Bill Halligan is Senior Director and Senior Environmental Counsel with Harris + Associates. Bill has prepared hundreds of environmental documents for a diverse range of projects throughout California. As a member (and former chair) of AEP’s Legislative Review Committee, Bill works directly with the State Legislature and AEP’s lobbyist on proposed legislation related to CEQA.  
Matt Klopfenstein is a partner at CalAdvisors and represents clients in legislative and regulatory arenas. He specializes in technology, energy, environment, water, transportation, and local government policymaking. Matt serves as the Legislative Policy Director and Lobbyist for AEP. 
We welcome back Kristin Blackson, Vice President of Environmental Planning with WSP and co-chair of the AEP Legislative Committee. Kristin has successfully advocated for revising and creating CEQA legislation that benefits practitioners—and the public—throughout California. She shares her expertise as a professor for the UCSD Extension CEQA Certificate Program.  
The Legislative Committee provides analysis, prepares comment letters, and conducts direct lobbying on legislative bills relating to CEQA. Bill, Matt, and Kristin discuss CEQA policy related to topics such as housing, noise ordinance, and sports.

Tuesday Dec 20, 2022

In this episode, Corinne Lytle Bonine joins as a guest co-host as we feature Shane Coopersmith, an environmental influencer known as Sustainable Shane.  
Shane grew up surfing in Carlsbad, California where his love for everything sustainable started at a very young age. Everything from beach cleanups to volunteering at local environmental organizations to just planting his own garden were his passions & purpose to protect our planet. Shane wanted to be part of something bigger and he went on to study Sustainable Design at UC Berkeley. At Berkley, he had some serious brain blasts and Sustainable Shane began to evolve. 
Today, Shane spends his days in San Diego as a Sustainability Guru. He is a high school Horticulture teacher where he is able to share his love of our planet with the future generation. He created Sustainable Shane to help spread awareness about sustainability and share tips on how to live a happier, healthier, eco-friendly lifestyle! 
Connect with Shane:

Friday Dec 16, 2022

In this episode, we feature Dr. Cindy J. Lin, the CEO and Co-Founder of Hey Social Good, a social impact tech company working to revolutionize social good for people, planet, and profit.
Dr. Lin is an ecologist, environmental engineer, environmental and data scientist, and expert on the environmental impacts of land use and human activities on ecological habitats. She previously worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she designed national environmental standards, worked on cutting edge research, implemented policy to address environmental pollution and sustainability, and managed multiple government and private entities to meet environmental standards. She was the US Regional Expert on the Clean Water Act, Expert Scientist with the U.S. Applied Climate Change National Work Group, Water Adviser at the U.S. Embassy, Beijing, and US EPA's Top Science and Policy Advisor on the US-China Team.Hey Social Good’s Social Good SaaS platform uses data analytics and machine learning to rapidly verify environmental and social practices adopted by private and public companies. The company makes it easy for businesses to meet company goals and new policy directives to credibly and transparently demonstrate their social impact footprint.
Hey Social Good verifies the environmental and social practices of public and private companies, and award medal rankings to sustainable and ethical companies. The platform’s 200+ decision points data model considers a company's social and environmental impact and how they link to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The data-driven information on social good companies help businesses adopt social good practices and consumers shop with purpose. 
A quick note: our co-host, Laurel, is on family leave and returning to the podcast next year. We will have guest co-hosts joining the podcast over the next few months.

Tuesday Nov 15, 2022

In this episode, we feature David Hodgins, the founder and CEO of Sustento Group and Executive Director of the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge. 
With more than a decade of experience in project development, program delivery and policy implementation, David Hodgins is a recognized leader in the sustainable real estate field. He began his career with the Clinton Climate Initiative, where he led private sector project development for three years. Building on the perspective he gained through that work, he founded sustainability services company Sustento Group in 2011, which serves as program manager for the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge. 
David has worked with a diverse set of clients, from federal, state and local governments to global lenders, investors and asset managers, utilities, advocates, national labs and affordable housing developers. He has contributed to the development of a range of industry standards and resources, including the Department of Energy’s Asset Score Audit Template, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Energy Performance Contracting Toolkit and several ASHRAE standards. 
A sought-after speaker and recognized leader in the sustainable real estate world, David holds an MBA and a master’s in real estate development from the University of Southern California, as well as a bachelor’s in business economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). 

Thursday Sep 29, 2022

In this episode, we host a panel with members from AEP’s Climate Change Committee – Michael Hendrix, Jennifer Reed, and Rich Walter. The Committee consists of leaders of climate action planning practices from consulting firms and agencies that have lead many of the local GHG reduction planning efforts across California. The Committee focuses on advancing the professional practice of local climate action planning through periodic publication of white papers and conference presentations, as well as interaction with state, regional and local agencies. The panel discusses why they joined the climate change committee, the contributions they have made and how the committee has impacted their careers and lives.
Michael Hendrix a leading California climate change scientist and climate action planner with over 26 years of experience. He has authored or provided technical oversight of 72 climate action plans throughout the United States.  He is the recent recipient of the AEP "Professional Achievement Award” – and is current Chairperson for the AEP Climate Change Committee where he provides leadership within AEP on the issues of climate change risks, adaptation, resiliency, and analysis of greenhouse gas emissions.
Jennifer Reed leads Dudek’s air quality services team and has over 15 years’ experience. Jennifer specializes in air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, health risk assessment, and energy technical analyses. In addition, Jennifer teaches an air quality and GHG emissions course for UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, is an active member in AEP’s Climate Change Committee, and has demonstrated success in relaying technical analyses in a way that is easy to understand.
Rich Walter has 30 years of experience in environmental planning, compliance, permitting, and mitigation. Rich leads the ICF Climate Action Planning practice which has developed climate action plans, GHG inventories for hundreds of communities across the U.S., general plans, and studies of adaptation to sea level rise. He is key author for the AEP white papers on climate action planning and the California Air Pollution Control Officer’s Association white papers on CEQA and Climate Change and on Climate Change and General Plans.

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