I am thrilled to be working with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program and New Hampshire Sea Grant as a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow for the next two years. This role offers an invaluable opportunity to affect and be affected by the collaborative and creative work already underway in New Hampshire’s coastal watershed communities. After four years of work in Maine, this fellowship will introduce me to new yet connected ecosystems, people, and places collectively preparing for and adapting to the risks and impacts from climate change.
I have always loved coastal areas; a pull to live near the ocean drew me to attend college in Maine, graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies, and subsequently set down roots in South Portland. During this time, I launched into work for the City of South Portland’s Sustainability Office. This work opened my eyes to the challenges and opportunities presented to coastal communities by rising sea levels, more extreme storms, and frequent flooding. As our office produced Maine’s first municipal climate action and adaption plan to address these local hazards, I recognized firsthand the value of science-based and truly collaborative planning that centers lived experiences and local expertise. Over the course of 18 months, we brought together community leaders, state geologists, land use planners, and waterfront coordinators to produce a practical and visionary plan. This professional experience provided an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the future of a community that I care deeply about and seeded an enduring interest in public service.
My time in the South Portland Sustainability Office simultaneously raised critical questions about how to address intersectional challenges and mitigate the root causes of vulnerability through thoughtful design and implementation of coastal zone projects and policies. Propelled by these questions, I enrolled in Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning graduate program. This program places a distinct emphasis on preparing students to nurture more just, equitable, inclusive, participatory, and vibrant communities. Alongside my peers, I gained a greater understanding of the role that policy and planning fields play in both creating and addressing inequitable outcomes for people and places, such as environmental injustice or concentrated poverty. I finished my degree with a master’s thesis that used ethnographic research methods to explore alternative ways of knowing and organizing in a coastal Maine community concerned with both air quality and rising sea levels. Taken all together, my time at Tufts cultivated humility, creativity, curiosity, and empathy that I will carry with me for years to come.
As I move into this new role as a Coastal Management Fellow, I am excited to join a collaborative group of CAW partners and members who are committed to a future where all communities are resourceful, ready, and resilient in a changing climate. I am particularly energized to support CAW in a moment characterized by intensifying coastal resilience issues, meaningful progress in local communities, and unprecedented funding opportunities available from the federal government and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. My fellowship project, The Resilient Collaborative Project, will help to build the capacity of CAW to evolve and address new priorities. The project will have three main work areas: (1) advancing CAW’s goals and emerging focus areas through development of the Action Agenda, (2) empowering local climate adaptation champions and practitioners, and (3) enhancing engagement opportunities for all members of the public.
Over the next two years, I look forward to learning from and alongside CAW’s partners and members as we collectively address emerging and long-standing coastal challenges. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and eager to work closely with New Hampshire’s leading coastal resilience organizations and practitioners to propel CAW to new heights! When not thinking about all things coastal zone management, I love hiking a mountain with my dog and husband, sailing with family in Downeast Maine, getting out for a quiet run along the water first thing in the morning, or making a delicious dessert to share with friends and loved ones. In the months ahead as I get settled in this new role, please reach out and introduce yourselves. I hope to get to know many of you through CAW programming, a cup of tea, or simply a walk outside.