Mentorship Program Spotlight: Innovating on Adaptation
Miles Gordon is a Research Intern at the Cadmus Group’s Strategy and Policy Group in Boston, MA, where he works on a variety of projects focused on urban resilience and sustainability policy. Originally from Portland, Miles received his Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2016. Now a recent graduate from Ohio University with a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, his graduate work focused on climate adaptation planning methods for native tribes in the United States.
Seeking to advance his expertise with mentorship from a seasoned adaptation practitioner, Miles was happy to meet Sascha Petersen. Sascha has been working in the climate change field for more than twelve years. He founded Adaptation International in 2010 and was the first managing director of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (hey, that’s us!). Also a lead author on the National Climate Assessment, Sascha has worked with climate scientists and municipal governments and focuses on bridging the gaps between climate change science, policy and action. Originally from Alaska, Sascha earned his Bachelor’s in Physics from Pomona in California and has been unstoppable since—he’s even trained astronauts at the Johnson Space Center!
A topic that Miles and Sascha have been actively exploring is how to successfully cultivate a career in adaptation. Since climate adaptation is a relatively nascent field, formal certification structures do not yet exist. The path towards carving out a career in the adaptation space is not as linear as it is in other fields (e.g., accounting or city planning).
Considering this, many of Miles and Sascha’s conversations have been around how to navigate the evolving field of climate adaptation to build a fulfilling career path. Something Miles has learned is that an ‘adaptation-only’ setting isn’t necessary to carve out space as an adaptation professional. As his internship at Cadmus has progressed, he has found that projects that aren’t strictly focused on adaptation planning still bring meaningful experiences that add to an adaptation skill set and knowledge base, as well as an adaptation resume.
“Miles has a great sense of how to advocate for himself in a professional setting. My role has been less of a guide and mostly to serve as a ‘gut check’ and help reinforce and support his feelings and approach to creating a career in adaptation.”
Sascha notes that Miles is also sort of a tri-coastal chameleon. Since he grew up in Oregon, went to school in Ohio, and now works in Boston, being able to blend in from the West Coast to the Northeast will prove to be a great asset in his resilience work. With such a dynamic adaptation future on the horizon, we hope Miles will bring his field experience, knowledge and wisdom back to ASAP’s Mentorship Program!