Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation
Fall Newsletter 2012

From the Executive Director

Executive Director Lissa Widoff
Executive Director Lissa Widoff

Greetings Switzer Fellows, friends and colleagues,

As our recent election shows us, problem solving and growth can only be accomplished when a diversity of views

is present.  At the Switzer Foundation, we continue to celebrate diversity of experience when we select each class of Switzer Fellows.  The 2012 class of Fellows includes master's and PhD students working on specific issues, but many of whom work from an interdisciplinary perspective, either through dual degrees or through their research collaborations.  To name but a few examples, the 2012 Fellows are working on international relations and environmental management; agriculture and food systems from historical, economic and ecological perspectives; and collaborative approaches to water governance and land management.  These new Fellows add valuable insight and approaches to our Network and we look forward to their contributions to the Foundation's goals of applied problem-solving.
Over the years, we have increasingly focused our efforts at the Switzer Foundation on the value of collaboration, whether this is through joint workshops and trainings with other leadership development organizations and their fellows, or through facilitating our Fellows to work together to solve a problem.  This year, we awarded our first Switzer Network Innovation Grants.  Recognizing that the Switzer Fellowship Network of over 500 Fellows is one of our most important assets, we initiated this new program to tap the Network's collective potential for innovation and action to solve today's complex environmental issues.  Groups of Fellows have been funded to study the lifecycle and regional impacts on water resources in fracking operations in the northeastern U.S., to analyze the public health and environmental impacts of proposed changes to water quality monitoring regulations in southern California, and to serve as technical advisors on an effort to minimize water pollution from recreational boating in California, among other projects.   
The large pool of talent and expertise found in the Switzer Network is not just an asset for the Foundation, but for all of our environmental colleagues.  Through our grant programs or through other professional connections, we hope that you will consider Switzer Fellows to be a resource for your organization.  

Lissa Widoff 

Executive Director, and Switzer Fellow (1992)

Meet the 2012 Fellows

Twenty new Fellows join the Switzer Network
The core program of the Switzer Foundation, the Switzer Fellowship Program, supports highly talented graduate students working towards environmental improvement, who demonstrate the potential for leadership in their field.

This year, twenty new Fellows joined the Switzer Network of more than 500 Fellows located across the country and around the world.  The 2012 Fellows are involved in a wide diversity of academic disciplines and professional interests such as environmental justice and sustainability in the mining industry, food systems and sustainable agriculture, conservation biology, climate change policy (domestic and international), water resources, natural resource management, law, city and regional planning, to name a few! 


Aga Pinette For example, Fellow Aga Pinette is completing her law degree at the University of Maine School of Law where she is Editor-in-Chief of the Maine Law Review.  Prior to attending law school, Aga worked as a senior land use planner for the State of Maine where she coordinated regulatory reviews of significant and controversial land use proposals in Maine's North Woods, including Plum Creek's development plan for the Moosehead Lake region. Currently, Aga is organizing the 2013 Food Law Colloquium to take place February 22-23, 2013 which will focus on legal issues confronting food systems and local food movements in the U.S. 

In This Issue
From Executive Director
Meet the 2012 Fellows
Switzer Network in Action
Switzer Network News
Fellows in the News
Leadership Grants
Upcoming Events
Foundation News
Quick Links
Like us on Facebook View our profile on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter View our videos on YouTube

Switzer Foundation
2012 Switzer Fellows
Program Guidelines
Switzer Network News

2013 Fellowship Application Period
Now Open
Online Applications Being Accepted

The goal of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program is to support highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies are directed toward improving environmental quality and who demonstrate the potential for leadership in their field. Fellowship applications for the 2013-2014 Fellowship year are due January 10, 2013.

Read more about
the Fellowship Program

For any questions on our grant programs, please contact Program Officer Erin Lloyd.

Miriam TorresFellow Miriam Torres is a master's candidate in urban and regional planning at UCLA.  Miriam is a founder of Alcanza, a planning practice which promotes healthy communities in Los Angeles.  Prior to graduate school, she worked with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water.  Miriam plans to help urban communities incorporate sustainable strategies into their planning efforts. 


Brian HaggertyFellow Brian Haggerty is an evolutionary ecologist working on his PhD at UC Santa Barbara.  A common theme throughout Brian's research is phenology - the timing and intensity of seasonal dynamics, and related environmental changes.  Brian is studying how changes in the timing of plant growth and reproduction can be used to track the effects of climate change.  Brian and colleagues are designing and implementing the USA National Phenology Network, and the California Phenology Project.


The twenty new Switzer Fellows represent the next generation of environmental leaders to address the critical issues we face today.  Each of them has demonstrated an outstanding level of commitment to their work as well as the capacity to lead for on-the-ground change. 


Read the bios of all 2012 Fellows   

The Switzer Network in Action

Here are stories about Switzer Fellow collaborations and accomplishments, highlighting the ways in which they use the Network of Fellows and Foundation resources to advance their work.

Fellows working on innovative policy solutions:

Informing the regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) by understanding its life cycle and regional impacts   Switzer Fellows Evan Hansen, President of Downstream Strategies; Attorney Colin Hagan; and Dr. Dustin Mulvaney of San Jose State University, received a $40,000 Switzer Network Innovation Grant to work with Earthworks researching the life cycle and regional impacts of water use in fracking operations in the Marcellus Shale in the northeastern U.S.  This project, based in West Virginia, addresses the amount of water used, polluted water generated, and risk to groundwater supplies in fracking, and results will be used to inform local and state-level regulatory processes.

Innovation in Pre-listing Species Conservation: Conservation Banking for Candidate Species
Gopher tortoise

Switzer Fellows Todd Gartner of World Resources Institute and Dr. Josh Donlan of Advanced Conservation Strategies are working under a Switzer-funded collaboration to develop a pilot program (called 'conservation banking') that will create a voluntary marketplace for maintaining critical wildlife habitat for threatened species like the Gopher tortoise in the southeastern U.S.  Todd and Josh introduced their work to the Switzer Network and colleagues via webinar which you can hear by clicking on the title link, above.

Assessing the implications of changes in EPA water quality standards 
Switzer Fellows Dr. Christine Lee, Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Dr. Nancy Steele, Executive Director of the Council for Watershed Health; and Dr. Linwood Pendleton, Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke University's Nicholas Institute and Acting Chief Economist for NOAA, work together under a Switzer Network Innovation Grant to assess the economic and public health impacts of proposed changes to EPA regulations on water quality in southern California.

Creating policy solutions to keep California's coastline clean
Switzer Fellow Colleen Callahan, Deputy Director of UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation, leads a group of Switzer Fellows and colleagues as members of a Technical Advisory Committee to the Soak It Up! project of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative.  This project examines ways in which California policy can help minimize oil pollution from recreational boats on the coast.  

Accelerating the Green Energy Transition
As Senior Energy Analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Switzer Fellow Laura Wisland played an important role in the passage of California's Renewable Portfolio Standard.  Laura shared her research into how California's utilities are faring under the new rules through a Switzer Network webinar.

Fellows working together to bring global issues to the local level:
Healy Hamilton and Lisa Micheli
Healy Hamilton and Lisa Micheli
At the Water's Edge, with Switzer Fellows Lisa Micheli, ExecutiveDirector, Pepperwood, and Dr. Healy Hamilton, Senior Research Fellow, Marine Conservation Biology Institute.  Scientists around the world are studying global climate change and developing various scenarios regarding its potential impact.  The real action and impact of climate change will occur at the local level, which is where Switzer Fellows Lisa Micheli and Healy Hamilton are working.

Fellows coming together to share expertise:

Fellow authors join together as a panel to present a  webinar on how to publish a bookMany Switzer Fellows are published authors.  Several, including Eric Jay Dolin, Thor Hanson, Mark Elbroch, Susan Clark, David Sonnenfeld and Sharon Smith, offer insight and lessons learned in writing and publishing.

Climate Adaptation Help Panelwith Switzer Fellows Dr. Lara Hansen (Chief Scientist and Executive Director, EcoAdapt), Dr. Amber Pairis (Climate Change Advisor, CA Department of Fish and Game), Patrick McCarthy (Director, Southwest Climate Change Initiative, The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico) and Dr. Healy Hamilton, Senior Research Fellow, Marine Conservation Biology Institute.  This webinar, scheduled for December 11, 2012, will assist conservation practitioners and resource managers with tools for climate adaptation and how to plan and manage resources in a changing climate. 

Interested in tapping Switzer Network expertise for your organization?
Contact Lissa Widoff, Executive Director ([email protected]) or Erin Lloyd, Program Officer ([email protected]) for more information about how our interdisciplinary network of Fellows can provide expertise or problem-solving for your organization, or on an issue with which you are working.

Switzer Network News
Switzer Network News logo

Switzer Network News is a regular series of news reports that profile Switzer Fellows working at the cutting edge of environmental problem solving.  Recent Switzer Network News reports cover Fellows working on a wide range of critical issues, such as:

Healthier Hospitals The environmental and public health issues surrounding hospitals - how do we make them healthier and more environmentally sustainable?Watch Building Healthier Hospitals, with Switzer Fellow Mara Baum, Architect and Healthcare Sustainable Design Leader at HOK.
We usually think of hospitals as a beacon of health, but they can have unexpected impacts on workers and patients.  Ms. Baum oversees sustainability implementation, research, consulting and education across HOK's global healthcare practice.

Producing electricity from the sun with solar panels seems like a good solution to our energy needs.  But the nanotechnology involved with solar panel production and end-of-life disposition can cause environmental and human health problems. Hear from Switzer Fellow Dr. Dustin Mulvaney, Assistant Professor at San Jose State University and Research Scientist with Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, on Keeping Solar Clean.

Are pumas beneficial to their environment?  Watch Exploring the Ecological Role of Pumas, with Switzer Fellow Dr. Mark Elbroch, Project Leader, Teton Cougar Project.  Dr. Elbroch works to mitigate human-carnivore conflict, making the case that large carnivores play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem.

Watch these reports, and more, at our website and subscribe to receive new episodes via iTunes or email.

Fellows in the News

Matthew Orosz (2009), Chief Engineer, STG International
Orosz won a 2012 Energy Globe Award for building the first solar-powered hospital in Lesotho,  received an Echoing Green Fellowship, and  had his company profiled on
Nithya Ramanathan (2007), President of NexLeaf Analytics, won a Gates Foundation grant for her work developing cell phone sensor monitoring for vaccines.  This grant came under the Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations program for projects pursuing innovative global health and development research.
Melissa Garren, Post-doc Researcher at MIT, presented at TEDx Monterey on the importance of marine microbes for human and ocean health. 
David Wiley, Research Coordinator, NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, led the development of a new mobile alert app for sighting whales, and was interviewed on Public Radio International's The World.

Read all Fellows in the News updates

Switzer Leadership Grants

Leslie Abramson
Leslie Abramson
Switzer Grantees: Driving Positive Environmental Change
The Switzer Leadership Grant Program provides up to $40,000 in funding to selected organizations that work with a Switzer Fellow on a project aimed at improving environmental quality.  Leadership Grants are designed to advance the professional development of Fellows and to increase the capacity of organizations to address a critical environmental issue.

Three Leadership Grants totaling $110,600 were awarded in May, 2012.  Grantees include:

The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, San Francisco, CA,received a $30,600 grant to allow Leslie Abramson (2008 Fellow) to continue her work as Project Manager on the Whale/Vessel Interactions Project where she leads an interdisciplinary group working to minimize collisions between whales and ships in the Farallones Marine Sanctuary.

The San Francisco Estuary Institute, Richmond, CA, received a $40,000 grant to fund 2003 Fellow Chuck Striplen's time as staff environmental scientist to develop and implement a new initiative called the Tribal Initiative.  This Initiative will integrate traditional ecological knowledge from California's native tribes into conservation planning and resource management of non-reservation lands.

SERC Institute, Winter Harbor, ME, received a $40,000 grant to hire 2005 Fellow Eunice Blavascunas to develop a new program in social science for the organization.  This new program will create a unique niche for SERC Institute as a social science resource to complement large-scale conservation initiatives in Maine and around the country.

Read more about the Switzer Leadership Program.

Upcoming Events

November 14, 2012
with Switzer Fellow Amy Clipp, Writer and Consultant.  Clipp will share her experience in how scientists can apply their work in complex political environments.

December 11, 2012
Webinar: Climate Adaptation Help Panel
Join a panel of Switzer Fellows with expertise on bringing climate science to
a local level, focusing on how conservation practitioners and resource managers can apply the latest climate science information to their work.

February 22-23, 2012
Portland, ME: 2013 Food Law Colloquium
Organized by Switzer Fellow Aga Pinette, Editor-in-Chief of the Maine Law Review.  A forum for legal scholars and community practitioners on the architecture of food systems in Maine, the U.S., and abroad, and how it affects local food production.

March, 2013 (Dates TBD)
San Francisco Bay area, CA: 2013 Switzer Fellows' West Coast Spring Retreat and Study Tour focusing on Bay-Delta Issues
If you or your organization are involved with San Francisco Bay Delta issues and you wish to be involved with this weekend-long study tour, please contact Erin Lloyd, Program Officer.

March/April, 2013 (Dates TBD)
Coastal MA or ME: 2013 Switzer Fellows' East Coast Spring Retreat and Study Tour, focusing on coastal and marine spatial planning.  Details will be announced on our website shortly, so if this topic is of interest to you or your organization, please check back with us frequently, or email Erin Lloyd for more information.

April 2-4, 2013
Denver, CO: National Adaptation Forum, with Switzer Fellows Dr. Lara Hansen and Dr. Amber Pairis and colleagues.  This forum will focus on taking climate adaptation from the planning to the implementation stage.

To be notified of upcoming webinars and events, be sure to sign up for one of our social media feeds using the sidebar links!

Foundation News
2013 Fellowship Applications are being accepted! Deadline: January 10, 2013.  Please pass the word to environmental graduate students in New England and California working on contemporary issues and who are developing innovative approaches to environmental problems.  Please refer to the Fellowship Guidelines on our website for more information.

The Switzer Fellows' Fall Retreats were held in September and October, in Ashland, Massachusetts and Sausalito, California.   Both retreats focused on the Foundation's continued commitment to training Fellows to be articulate leaders, communicating their expertise and developing the key messages for wide audiences.  Each retreat allowed time for Fellows to network with each other, and focused on a topic of interest with Sunday keynotes.  In New England, we discussed the changing economy, hearing from staff at New Economics Institute on strategies for a sustainable economy.  In California, we heard from Richard Heinberg at the Post Carbon Institute on building community resilience in a world of declining energy.  Read Executive Director Lissa Widoff's blog post about the retreats.  

Switzer Foundation Executive Director Lissa Widoff was on the planning committee for the annual Environmental Grantmakers Association conference held September 30-October 3 in New Paltz, NY.  Switzer Fellow Sharon Smith (2011) was a panelist on a session addressing youth in philanthropy, and Switzer Fellow Phil Johnson (1999), Environment Program Officer for the Heinz Center, was in attendance as well as Switzer Board Chair, Fellow, and Compton Foundation Program Director Jen Sokolove.  Read Lissa Widoff's blog post about the issues presented at the conference.

Follow the Switzer Fellows on social media!  Stay tuned via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or sign up for our RSS feed so you don't miss Switzer Network News reports, invitations to webinars and events open to the public, and other news or late breaking reports by Fellows.

A Vibrant Community of Environmental Leaders
Copyright � 2011 Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. All Rights Reserved.