MENTORSHIP SPOTLIGHT: The Complexity of Local Climate Planning

Pictured from Left to Right: Mentor Clare Fogelsong, Mentee Sarah Saydun, and Mentee Varun Bhat

Mentor Clare Fogelsong is currently developing and managing climate adaptation and resiliency programs in the Bellingham Washington Office of Climate. With decades of experience in the management of environmental resources and additional years developing and implementing climate action plans, Clare is participating in the ASAP Mentorship Program to provide mentees access to the lessons learned from his experiences.

Mentee Sarah Saydun has spent over a decade in the Boston area working with youth and organizing for social justice. As a climate planner at Linnean Solutions, Sarah works with local governments and communities to develop collaborative, intersectional, and values-centered approaches to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Sarah is completing her Master’s in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts, and her thesis explores equitable climate adaptation at the intersections of housing and environmental justice. She’s excited to sharpen her climate planning skills and climate justice practice through the ASAP Mentorship Program.

Mentee Varun Bhat is a Ph.D. student studying Community Climate Adaptation at one of ASAP’s Organizational Members, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. As a first-year student in his current degree program, he wants to investigate the implementation barriers of global environmental change energy policies. His research examines the workforce problem, from training and upskilling to finding gainful and meaningful employment in new and transitory sustainability careers.  

Together, mentees Sarah and Varun are exploring local government approaches to climate mitigation and adaptation. 

Clare is supporting Sarah and Varun’s professional development by sharing project management tools with them. Sarah and Clare have also discussed pathways and barriers to equitable engagement in climate planning processes. As a Ph.D. student, Varun wants to look into the sustainability implementation barriers at the local level. Discussions with Clare have also involved understanding the time sinks and bottlenecks regarding swift decision-making. The group has also talked about workforce development issues and finding common pain points. As a group cohort, Sarah and Varun enjoy unique discussion calls. They have all found ways to enhance their professional practice by sharing their experiences in the field.

What hobbies do Clare, Sarah, and Varun have? Glad you asked! When not working for the City of Bellingham, Clare’s recreation revolves around bikes and boats – he races canoes. He loves sci-fi and speculative fiction. He also recommends buying gravel bikes with tour lugs if you are around the Bellingham area! In her spare time, you can find Sarah tending lovingly to her plants, attempting to roller skate, or devouring urban fantasy novels like N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. Varun likes to bake in his spare time (and when he has the inclination). Otherwise, not really (it’s too much work!). He is in India this summer!

Thanks to everyone for sharing their expertise!