As an associate in the environmental and green technology sector of California Strategies, recent MPA in Environmental Science and Policy alum Claire van Zuiden (’13) develops strategies to grow and finance green companies and to help clients commercialize technologies to improve air quality, reduce waste and reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Claire applies the system-based thinking and hard science background that she learned in the ESP program on a daily basis to resolve environmental, energy, and development issues.
1. What is your current job?
I am an associate in the environmental and green technology sector of California Strategies, a governmental affairs consulting firm based in Sacramento, Calif. As an associate, I have the opportunity to work with clients to help support environmental policy, alternative fuels, renewable energy and green development throughout California.
2. Do your current job responsibilities align with the professional goals that you originally had when you began the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program?
Yes, I was hoping to continue advancing green technology and environmental conservation through policy. At California Strategies, part of my responsibility is to develop strategies to grow and finance green companies and help clients commercialize technologies to improve air quality, reduce waste and substantially reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
3. What skills has the MPA-ESP program taught you that you think have proven useful to your current position?
On a daily basis I apply the innovative, system-based thinking that I learned in the MPA-ESP program to help resolve environmental, energy and development issues. I draw from my newly acquired hard science background when working with engineers, and being able to combine that with my policy background to help communicate with decision makers.
4. What skills and tools do you hope to acquire through this job?
I look forward to continuing to work on a variety of issues related to environmental policy, renewable energy and alternative fuels to further strengthen my knowledge in these areas. In the future, I would like to expand my expertise to include coastal resource management and conservation.
5. How has collaborating with your fellow students in class projects benefited you professionally and personally?
The collaboration with fellow students, through workshops and labs, improved my management, communication and delegation skills that I apply daily. At California Strategies, I have helped manage multiple teams to write successful grant proposals for green technology projects.
6. How do you intend to utilize your degree from the MPA-ESP program to further your career?
I am already utilizing the knowledge gained at Columbia to strengthen my expertise in both environmental science and policy, enabling me to understand the science behind the issues. My degree from the MPA-ESP program provides credibility and the specific skills to enable me to effectively communicate with decision makers. In addition to my classroom education, I gained lifelong friendships with my peers and faculty that will continue to enrich me, professionally and personally, throughout my career.
Students in the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy program enroll in a year-long, 54-credit program offered at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, in partnership with the Earth Institute. Throughout this one-year program, students are immersed in courses that combine Columbia University’s hands-on approach to teaching public policy and administration with pioneering thinking about the environment. During the summer semester, students learn the fundamentals of environmental science, while in the fall and spring semesters, they focus on the policy and economics necessary to becoming successful environmental analysts and managers. Visit our website to learn more about the program.
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