Mentee Yilin Lai Giltinan is a community-adaptation-planner with a focus on transferring climate data and a community’s adapting capacity into an integrated Urban-Heat-Island adaptation strategy and urban design. Yilin has a background in landscape architecture and received a MS.c in Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. During this time she collaborated with climate engineering firm Transsolar in a climate passive urban design project and with Fraunhofer Institute of Industrial Engineering for a bottom-up heat-health adaptation plan

Yilin was able to thoroughly learn what roles build environment, policy and individual behavior plays in heat resilience. Right after Yilin’s transition to the USA in June 2021, she soon identified the need for her to be familiar with the climate policy and industry in the USA. Yilin is now an intern of Montgomery County’s planning department and supports integrating the county’s climate action plan into master planning. She also seeks an active role in grounding bottom-up adaptation.

Mentor Marcus Griswol is a coach, scientist, community engagement specialist and founder of Calm Waters Group. He has 15 years of experience communicating science and policy, providing strategic leadership, fundraising, and empowering communities on the most complex and controversial projects. He works on and provides mediation, facilitation, and planning services to non-profits, local, state, and federal governments, and tribes. Marcus believes that communities already know what is needed to solve climate justice, and helps them tell their story, advocate for their needs, and engage with agencies. He has a Master’s in Entomology and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering with a focus on coastal watershed assessment and recovery from extreme events, supported through the US EPA STAR Fellowship program.

Although Yilin wants to put her knowledge into practice, Yilin finds herself having a hard time finding the right entry point for her career as a newcomer knowing that only a few cities in the United States have a position for a Heat Officer. Marcus’ experiences as a long-term campaigner for integrating adaptation across local to federal sectors have provided Yilin the comprehensive information about the trend of adaptation policy in the USA, the nature of different institutions, and the agencies that work at the intersection of community-science and local adaptation. Additionally, Marcus also gives advice on networking and job application, which helps Yilin’s continuing career development in many ways.

While Yilin is in her transition position-being an intern in the county’s planning department, she tries to incorporate existing climate assessment and action into the master plan updating process. But she soon faced the challenge of institutional constraints, such as lack of policy guidance, standardizing process, and technical transition. Marcus’s experience in updating state-level environmental regulations gives insight into how the governmental sector works. They further discuss possible short-term and long-term strategies for confronting such issues. Although Yilin’s mission is still in progress, Marcus’s input allows Yilin to make a greater impact in an intern position and understand the trade-off of grounding climate action in local governmental sectors. So, she can dream big as a new adaptation professional and immigrant.

Yilin and Marcus are both introverts that enjoy advocating climate action inside a big system! Marcus’ lobbying tactics are much more applicable to Yilin, while her partner mentee-Sophia brings another dynamic and different areas of expertise. We are looking forward to supporting Yilin in the next steps of her career!