My Climate Journey: From the Florida Beaches to the MomentUs Summit
My appreciation for nature began early. I am fortunate to have parents who value and enjoy the outdoors. My mother attended church summer camps in the hills of West Virginia while growing up. My father, who was raised in the Philippines, has a deep love for the ocean. When we lived in Florida, both of them took me regularly to its beaches. I vividly remember my Dad toting me on his hip as we waded into the waves. My mom, shy of the water, sunbathed in one of those crazy 1970’s floppy brim hats. Later, I spent many teenage adventures along the beach with boys who wanted to take moonlit walks (but really wanted to kiss!). But it’s in the woods where my curiosity and inspiration really began to blossom. During school breaks, which offered more time to travel to the mountains, I regularly opted to be camping and/or hiking.
In 2007, I was fortunate to be invited on a volunteer service trip to Namibia to help conserve a cheetah habitat. During the days I was tasked with caring for injured and captive orphaned cheetahs, and at night, counting game as they migrated through the open spaces. It was during this time that I was reminded just how much nature provides a sense of calm and peace not found elsewhere.
I often think of nature as my “church. “ My visceral response to working and living in Africa galvanized my resolve to bring my business skills to bear within organizations working toward a greater good. Years later, when I was asked to join ecoAmerica, I was eager to commit to an organization that was serving humanity by raising the confidence of our leaders to address climate change.
This past May, I attended my first ecoAmerica MomentUs Summit. I was excited to see what 170 leaders who are inspired and empowered to talk about climate change and renewable energy sound and look like as a group. Most importantly, I wanted to feel their energy and be emboldened to speak out more on the defining issue of our time.
As Program Director of the business sector program, America Knows How, it was a real pleasure to collaborate with business leaders who are passionate and thoughtful about the complex issue of business and climate. Steve McBee, President & CEO of NRG Home at NRG Energy, inspired me with a stimulating video highlighting that energy is no longer a commodity, but a lifestyle that includes the freedom to choose one’s energy sources. Likewise, Aimee Christensen, founder and CEO of Christensen Global Strategies, brought a fresh perspective on what it means for small and medium-sized businesses to align and create a shared vision for climate change that positively impacts their local economies and communities.
I could go on about all the leaders who illuminated their perspectives and demonstrated a clear voice for winning on climate change. Although many leaders across the faith, healthcare, higher education, and local government sectors attended, we share one unifying conviction… that we do what we do for the future of generations to come.
So, how am I thinking and feeling about climate change now? I want more than ever for my legacy to be about how I influenced family, friends, and fellow business leaders to behave responsibly with our natural resources so that our children can have the choices and resources that they deserve.
Today, I understand our mission more fully, and am now connected with more leaders who are passionate, bright, and determined to further progress on tipping the country toward climate solutions and stability. Once again, I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by and working with people who value the outdoors and believe that generations to come deserve the emotional rewards of family memories, wildlife conservation, and spiritual fulfillment that can only be found in nature.