Mentorship Spotlight: Coastal Conservation and Urban Resilience

Emily Hall received her bachelors from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Conservation Biology, and her master’s in Environmental Management from Duke University. In her educational and professional career, she’s been interested in exploring how ecosystems and people respond to change. Emily completed a series of projects where she interviewed coastal farmers in South Carolina and New York to understand how they are adapting their practices to changing seasons, extreme weather events, and sea level rise. Currently, Emily is a NOAA Coastal Fellow with Connecticut DEEP working on a marine spatial plan for Long Island Sound, the Blue Plan.

John Bolduc is an Environmental Planner with the City of Cambridge Community Development Department, where he has been employed for 21 years. He has 33 years of experience in municipal environmental protection, including 12 years as a local conservation agent administering the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and developing open space plans and environmental initiatives for three other municipalities. In Cambridge, John’s work includes managing the City’s climate change preparedness and resilience planning, administering the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance, and coordinating the climate advisory committee.

Emily and John have had a series of productive calls discussing climate resiliency in practice, as well as Emily’s next career steps. As the City of Cambridge is a leader in climate resilience planning, Emily took the opportunity to delve deeper into the city’s Climate Protection Plan and Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience planning efforts. They discussed in detail how these plans are really a way of systems thinking for creating healthier, more engaged communities while mitigating and preparing for climate change. Emily was able to see this idea in practice at the Boston’s Metro Mayors Climate Preparedness Taskforce Meeting, where local municipalities gather to discuss best practices and lessons learned for regional climate adaptation and mitigation.

The greatest piece of advice Emily has taken away from her and John’s discussions is to focus on developing a diverse set of skills. Emily found it encouraging to know that regardless of the type of projects she’s working on, the skills required can be transferred across environmental disciplines. John has also found it encouraging to see the development of the adaptation field through Emily’s eyes, and to know that another generation will continue this important work with new ideas and enthusiasm.

Emily also works part time in a vineyard. She has seen firsthand how a coastal climate can impact something many people enjoy: wine! If you want to know how to plan for your wine selection, Emily just may be the person to ask. (Got your attention, didn’t it?)

As with many environmental professionals, the allure of the beach is a unifying factor. Emily enjoys spending time on the beach so much that when she’s not busy studying coastal ecosystems, she can be found playing beach volleyball.

As for John, he grew up as “a military brat” and lived for many years in Japan and California. His leisure time at the beach is often spent on Martha’s Vineyard, an island just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Thank you so much to you both for joining the Mentorship Program and sharing your experience!