Sierra Woodruff and Russ Sands share their experience in designing the ASAP Mentorship Program

The ASAP Mentorship Program is designed to connect adaptation professionals working across the field. With the launch of our Mentorship Program, we asked to hear from two ASAP members who helped design it.

Sierra Woodruff and Russ Sands, co-chairs of the ASAP Mentorship Program, have worked extensively across the program, each of them bringing unique insight and perspective to the process. Drawing from their respective fields of research and practice, they have covered some interesting ground. As a team, they have been able to apply their own lessons learned in the design and implementation of the program.

“We are always striving to make the program as engaging and rewarding for the participants as possible.”

Sierra Woodruff, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, focuses her research on how planning can be used to help cities build resilience and adapt to a changing climate. Her published work discusses the quality of adaptation plans in the U.S., how adaptation plans address uncertainty and include ecosystem services, and city participation in learning networks.

Russ Sands works for the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) in the State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources as a Senior Program Manager. Over the past 13 years, he has worked to bring together diverse perspectives and teams to build the nexus between water, climate and resilience. At the CWCB, Russ is project manager for updates to Colorado’s Water Plan and facilitates state-wide stakeholder meetings and events.

Given their backgrounds, they make a great research-practice team! And as co-chairs of the ASAP mentorship program, they’ve learned a few things along the way. Throughout the program, they’ve found that even when they don’t always agree on everything, solutions are always in the foreground.

“We work together on everything from the overarching structure of the 9-month program, to writing discussion guidelines, to inviting guest speakers for webinars.”

Sierra was also happy to learn that Russ has great design skills, which he was able to apply to ASAP’s Mentorship Program Guide. Before starting at the CWCB, Russ worked for Denver Water and the City of Boulder, as well as working as a sustainability consultant. His work has focused on climate adaptation, water conservation, stormwater quality, drought planning, flood mitigation and water supply planning for local, regional and international projects.

With such expertise, it is easy to see how they have leveraged their knowledge to design the Mentorship Program.

“Since the program launched a year ago, we have enjoyed seeing the program grow and mature. It has been a pleasure to meet new ASAP members through the program and to celebrate the success of the program participants. We are excited for the upcoming third cohort!”

Before starting at Texas A&M, Sierra received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a post-doctoral scholar at University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative. Sierra plans to advance her practitioner informed adaptation research and further develop her mentoring skills by finding a PhD student with similar research interests for Fall 2019. Perhaps it will be an ASAP Mentorship Program Alum!

To learn more about our Mentorship Program, contact Rachel Jacobson at [email protected]