California Leadership Stories

This in-depth conversation with Dr. Orona (Hupa, Hoopa Valley Tribe) on the Cal Ag Roots WELL podcast digs into the concept and practice of the Landback movement in California, including the deep history of Native resistance in the state. It also explores Brittani’s background and move to her new role at San Diego State University.Read more >
As a child José regularly visited family in Mexico, where they had abundant natural space to explore, but he was disappointed in the lack of safe parks to play in when he would return to Los Angeles. As a community organizer, he saw the value of quality greenspace to working class communities. These experiences ultimately led him to pursue a career as a landscape architect working to advance park equity.Read more >
Like time and money, water in the West is often characterized by too much demand chasing too little supply. In response to such scarcity, water conservation seems the obvious, environmentally-friendly strategy to achieve the same outcome-a green lawn, food and fiber, or a hot shower-while using less water. Give water users the means to use less, and with any luck, they actually will. But such freedom can also inadvertently lead to more water use, whether that's via lush landscaping, more crops on marginal lands, or longer showers. How do we balance supply with demand to solve this problem?Read more >
Universities, cities, and now even some countries are starting to phase out single-use plastics, but what will they switch to? Tons of disposable foodware, including products made from agricultural waste and labeled compostable, are used and discarded every day. Some of the products contain chemicals that are associated with adverse health effects such as hormone disruption, increased cholesterol levels, and increased risk of cancer. Ideally, we should phase out single-use plastics and encourage the development of alternatives that are manufactured with and contain inherently safer chemicals. How do we incentivize a transition to the best reusable products?Read more >
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) won a prestigious national award March 5 for its influential role in the nation’s fight against climate change, receiving recognition for the Department’s outreach on climate resilience and for taking a comprehensive approach that aligns state and local water...Read more >
Some climate-related projects start local and stay local – but in other cases, there may be an opportunity to expand the initiative to broader scales. Over the course of just four years, Fellow Amber Pairis brought together more than 280 organizations, agencies, and groups of people keen to address climate change adaptation.Read more >
For the Yurok tribe, fishing isn’t a recreational weekend activity to be paired with a cold beer. It’s a way of subsistence, a way of life. Fellow Keith Parker’s groundbreaking biology research regarding a new subspecies of Pacific lamprey, recently published in the science journal Molecular Ecology, may be the key to saving his tribe’s way of life.Read more >
Fellow Colleen Callahan is deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation , which conducts research and advises civic partners on the design and implementation of policies, plans and programs with a focus on advancing environmental sustainability. Part of Callahan’s job is to make sure...Read more >
As the policy manager for autonomous vehicle policy at AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah , Fellow Xantha Bruso is developing and implementing AAA’s AV policy strategy to advance AV safety while enabling innovation. She also supports strategic initiatives to accelerate AV deployment and...Read more >
How can we how can we learn from communities to understand risk and support resilience planning? Kristen Goodrich brings a social ecological approach to characterizing natural hazards when developing flood modeling by studying the human experience with and response to flooding. Before starting her...Read more >

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