Mentorship Spotlight: Environment, Adventure & the Science of Decision

Sarah Kolarik studied interdisciplinary environmental science at Stanford University and environmental justice at the University of Michigan (UM). After leaving her master’s program at UM, Sarah returned to California to intern with the City of Palo Alto’s Urban Forestry Division and serve as a CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow with the Environmental Services Division at the City of San Pablo. Currently, Sarah is an Environmental Program Analyst with the City of San Pablo where she works on projects focused on stormwater, energy efficiency, and multi-modal transportation. She plans to continue working in local and regional government to support community resilience and environmental justice.

Patrick Marchman earned a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Washington and has an undergraduate degree in decision sciences. After working over 10 years with the federal government as both an employee and a contractor, he now works with Resilience Action Partners—a joint venture of Michael Baker International and Ogilvy—as Mitigation Champion for FEMA Region VII in Kansas City, Missouri advising on improving effectiveness and communication to support natural hazard mitigation. Patrick has been involved in a number of ASAP initiatives, including the Resilience Dialogues, to help develop the field of climate adaptation and community resilience.

Patrick and Sarah have discussed the differences between working at various levels of government and across sectors to advance community resilience and sustainability. While most of Sarah’s experiences are centered in city government, Patrick’s career experiences encompass numerous agencies within federal government, as well as consulting and non-profit work. For Sarah, the cross-cutting takeaways from Patrick’s diverse experiences are that personal happiness in an organization is tightly connected with organizational culture and the quality of management. The particular work topic matters less, especially since environmental specialties are part of a broader interconnected whole.

“It is great to explore the exciting projects that come your way,” said Patrick, “Yet it is also okay to decide to leave an exciting position if it is not the right fit. Not all exciting positions will work out, but you do have to jump in and try in order to find out!”

Sage advice from one who majored in decision sciences! Patrick also navigated an eight-year career as an information technology consultant before later pursuing a graduate degree and other certificates with an environmental focus.

Sarah’s initial interest in local government and transportation planning originated in a class she took while studying abroad in Santiago. True to her adventurous nature, during the mentorship program Sarah was once unable to attend one of the webinars because she was hiking in Europe—which, Patrick noted, is a very good reason to skip a call. We agree!

Thanks to both for participating in our Mentorship Program and sharing your experiences!