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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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.

Wednesday Sep 28, 2022

In this episode, we feature Tania Treis and Susanne Heim, Co-Owners and Principals of Panorama Environmental, to discuss their leadership approach to running an environmental consulting firm.  Tania is the Founding Principal of Panorama and specializes in CEQA, NEPA, and permitting compliance. She leads Panorama’s services in solar energy, fire and fuels, and water utility sectors. She is recognized for her strategic insight and creativity in finding solutions for complex projects and programs. Tania’s vision for Panorama has been to create a company that serves clients with a highly focused and intelligent team of professionals who care deeply about their work and bring success to every project, while also being a great place to work. As an owner of Panorama, she oversees the company’s overall business strategy, finances, and information technology.  Susanne is a Principal and co-owner of Panorama with 20 years of project and program management experience in the environmental field. Susanne has led CEQA, NEPA, and permitting efforts for electric utility, solar, geothermal, water utility, and watershed restoration projects throughout California, Nevada, and internationally. Susanne is recognized for her team leadership and ability to motivate teams to achieve goals. Susanne currently leads Panorama’s services in the geothermal, electric utility, and water resource sectors. Susanne’s role as an owner includes leading company operations and staff development. 

Tuesday Sep 06, 2022

This episode is a feature in our CEQA Series featuring Ethan Elkind. Ethan is the Director of the Climate Program at the UC Berkeley School of Law, with a joint appointment at the UCLA School of Law. He researches and writes on law and policies that address climate change. He previously taught at the UCLA law school’s Frank Wells Environmental Law Clinic and served as an environmental law research fellow. His book, Railtown, on the history of the modern Los Angeles Metro Rail system was published by University of California Press in January 2014.  He is also a co-host of the weekly call-in radio show “State of the Bay” on the San Francisco NPR affiliate KALW 91.7 FM, airing Monday nights at 6pm, and a frequent guest host on KALW’s “Your Call” morning call-in show. He received his B.A. with honors from Brown University and graduated Order of the Coif from the UCLA School of Law.

Friday Aug 26, 2022

This episode is the first in our Intergenerational Series featuring Corinne Lytle Bonine and her mother, Nancy Lytle.   Corinne is a Vice President and the Director of Environmental Planning at Chambers Group, and a Senior Project Manager with over 16 years of experience. She has managed an array of NEPA, CEQA and State Environmental Policy Act projects. Her passion and focus have been on environmental permitting and compliance for utility-scale renewable and low-carbon energy and transmission projects. She served on the Technical Advisory Committee for the County of San Diego’s Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan and currently sits on both the AEP State-level and San Diego Chapter’s Board of Directors. Nancy Lytle has over 35 years of experience as a city planner and a community development manager. In November 2014, she retired as Assistant Vice President of Civic San Diego, a nonprofit agency established by the City of San Diego to perform economic and community development in targeted areas throughout the City. Prior to retiring, she worked as a Vice President at the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, Assistant Director of Planning and Building for the City of Chula Vista, Planning Manager at the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, and Chief Planning Official for the City of Palo Alto. From 2000 to 2004, she was elected to and served on the Palo Alto City Council. And a fun fact: both Corinne and Nancy graduated from UC Santa Barbara!

Monday Aug 08, 2022

La Mikia has over two decades of experience in leadership development, strategic planning, design thinking, grassroots community organizing, youth engagement, policy advocacy and systems change. A commitment to social justice and racial equity permeates each aspect of her personal and professional life. ​La Mikia supports organizations with developing, implementing, and assessing data-driven strategies, she designs and facilitates leadership development trainings, conducts equity assessments, and moderates important conversations around race, bias, and equity. Her expertise lies in helping companies effectively embed equity, inclusion, diversity, access and anti-racism into their leadership, policies, and procedures so they can best support and retain their people.​An Afro-Latina who was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, La Mikia is a first-generation alumna who has committed her life and career to developing leaders, investing in communities, and promoting equity. She holds Bachelors’ degrees in Ethnic Studies and Urban Studies & Planning from UCSD, dual Master's degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning, and Certificates in Public Management, Political Management, and the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate from USC, where she serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. La Mikia also teaches Black, Latino and Latin American Relations courses in the Pan African Studies Department at Cal State Los Angeles.

Monday Jun 13, 2022

Carey Fernandes is a Principal at Dudek with almost 30 years of professional planning-related experience specializing in the planning, environmental, and development industries. Her diverse background of education and experience includes permit processing with local jurisdictions, coordination with public agency staff, preparation of CEQA and NEPA documents, project management, due diligence, and feasibility analysis.   She has also served as project manager and primary author of many environmental review documents throughout San Diego and Imperial counties, including the San Diego County wind ordinance. She also works with several Native American tribes in the western United States in the preparation of tribal environmental documents. Through this experience, she has developed a broad understanding of policy, planning, and environmental issues which she discusses in this episode.

Friday May 27, 2022

In this episode, we feature Jose Bodipo-Memba and Christopher Mundhenk. Jose is the Interim Chief Diversity Officer at SMUD, and responsible for company-wide programs and services such as human resources, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, and sustainable communities. His focus is to advocate for diversity, inspire an inclusive culture based on trust and respect, and to create belonging and connection among SMUD’s employees, customers, and communities, ultimately resulting in equitable outcomes for all. Chris is the Environmental Practice Group Leader and a Principal at Ascent Environmental.  Over the past 22 years, Chris has been managing and preparing environmental analysis documents for a wide variety of projects pursuant to CEQA. His career has been spent in the environmental consulting industry, in addition to serving as in-house staff for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California between 2002 and 2005. Chris serves the curriculum committees for AEP’s CEQA Essentials and Advanced CEQA workshops, assisting environmental professionals throughout California to learn and refresh on best practices and emerging trends in the world of environmental planning and analysis. Sustainable Communities Resource Priorities Map - https://usage.smud.org/SustainableCommunities AEP is collecting feedback via survey on its DEI Initiative. We you to share your experiences with diversity, equity and inclusion at AEP to help us better understand our current statewide membership and how we can strengthen DEI within our organization and throughout the environmental profession. June 6 is the final day to complete the survey, we appreciate your valuable feedback to help us move forward. To show our appreciation, the AEP chapter with the highest rate of submissions will receive funds to be used towards a membership appreciation event!   Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AEP-DEI Thanks for your support, and hope you enjoy this episode!

Tuesday May 24, 2022

This is the second episode in a series focusing on current events related to the California Environmental Quality Act – known as CEQA - which is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage. In this episode, we have a panel featuring Andrew Keatts, Howard Blackson, Kristin Blackson - moderated by Laurel Glass Lees. The panel offers diversity in perspectives on CEQA as it relates to the California Supreme Court ruling regarding the UC Berkeley housing case. Andrew is the Managing Editor of Voice of San Diego – he sees land use coverage as a way to make sense of the complex land-use decisions governments make while explaining how those decisions affect the daily lives of San Diegans. Howard is an urban designer, author, lecturer, and educator with over 30 years of experience. He works with AVRP Studios in San Diego managing the design and entitlement of mixed-use projects and codes for public and private clients across North America. We welcome Kristin back to join the panel - She is a Senior CEQA Project manager with Harris + Associates, a member of the California AEP State board and co-chair of the legislative committee. AEP is collecting feedback via survey on its DEI Initiative. We you to share your experiences with diversity, equity and inclusion at AEP to help us better understand our current statewide membership and how we can strengthen DEI within our organization and throughout the environmental profession. June 6 is the final day to complete the survey, we appreciate your valuable feedback to help us move forward. To show our appreciation, the AEP chapter with the highest rate of submissions will receive funds to be used towards a membership appreciation event!   Survey link Thanks for your support, and hope you enjoy this episode!

Monday May 09, 2022

This is the first episode in a multi-part series focusing on the California Environmental Quality Act – known as CEQA - which is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage. To kick off the series, we feature Kristin Blackson, a Senior CEQA Project Manager with Harris + Associates, where she manages projects with the goal of making CEQA compliance an efficient part of the process rather than a roadblock. As an expert in the ever-changing world of CEQA, Kristin is constantly researching and reviewing regulations to make the process of disclosing environmental impacts seamless for agencies.  She shares her expertise as a professor for the UCSD Extension CEQA Certificate Program, teaching introductory and advanced courses. She is also co-chair of the AEP Legislative Committee, where she has successfully advocated for revising and creating CEQA legislation that benefits practitioners—and the public—throughout California. These roles combine to keep Kristin on the leading edge of CEQA, uniquely positioning her to solve challenging problems.

Tuesday Apr 05, 2022

In this episode, we have a special guest co-host Neil Peacock, who interviews a key leadership figure in the transportation industry. Neil is President of the Superior California Chapter of AEP and serves as a Senior Environmental Planner with California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). Our featured guest is Toks Omishakin, who currently serves as Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency and recently served as Director of Caltrans, where he oversaw a $17 billion transportation budget and supported nearly 22,000 employees across 12 Districts that serve the entire State Highway System and its partnering networks. Secretary Omishakin’s leadership vision for the State’s transportation system focuses on providing a safe, equitable, sustainable, and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong local partnerships and advances the foundational principles of safety, equity, and climate action. Toks champions an organizational culture of transformative innovation and intelligent risk-taking that will be needed to achieve zero traffic deaths and reduce Green House Emissions from the transportation sector by 40% by 2030. Before coming to California, Toks served with Tennessee Department of Transportation where he successfully established a number of environmental and transportation planning policies across a number of Divisions. Prior to that, he served as Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office for the City of Nashville, Tennessee where he helped establish a more balanced approach to transportation planning and roadway design. In addition to these leadership roles, Mr. Omishakin is Chair of the Council on Active Transportation for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and serves on the Board of several non-profit and academic institutions.

Wednesday Mar 16, 2022

In this episode, we speak with Bob Brown, Principal Planner with SHN Engineers and Geologists. Bob has been in the ‘far north’ coastal part of California for 40 years – where he has spent a majority of his career as a contract municipal planner and CEQA practitioner. Bob has a passion for rural issues, and currently leads the five rural SHN offices providing municipal planning services to rural jurisdictions, permitting for private clients and environmental impact assessments to everyone in between. Bob recently was part of a team that prepared the EIR for the removal of the Klamath Dams in California and was responsible for analyzing many of the associated construction-related impacts. He is currently working on port-side development associated with off-shore wind. He is a Board Member with the AEP San Francisco Chapter and has taught the CEQA/NEPA course at Humboldt State University (now Cal Poly Humboldt) for 14 years where he has the opportunity to influence his future regulators. 

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