Lacey Raak, UCSC's Sustainability Director, has recently accepted the Sustainability Director position at Cal State Monterey Bay where she will be creating and implementing a culture of sustainability. Though we are all sad she is leaving, we are also very excited to hear of her soon to be many accomplishments at CSMB.
Before her departure, we asked her a couple questions about her time at UCSC.
When did you become sustainability director, and what were some of the things you did before coming to UCSC?
My first "real-world" job after completing my undergrad degree was an intern at the US State Department in DC. I worked in the Office of Environmental and Scientific Affairs and reported to the UN Special Representative for Sustainable Development. When I went back to MN I worked at a marketing firm that specialized in organic and natural food products and worked closely with the music industry. I moved to CA for graduate school and went to the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey where I received a masters in International Environmental Policy. While in graduate school I worked at the City of Monterey, where I helped develop their first Climate Action Plan and the Bicycle Transportation Plan. After graduation I received a Fulbright Scholarship to study the National Sustainable Development Strategy in Indonesia, I worked at the City again after my return and before coming to UC Santa Cruz.
That is a timeline of my work history, but from a more philosophical perspective - before coming to UCSC, I learned, I traveled, I explored. I met people, learned from them and carry what they taught me, with me even though I know I will likely never see them again. I treated the whole world like a classroom, and teachers are everywhere.
What has been your favorite moment working at UCSC in the sustainability office?
I have so many images pop into my mind for this one - doing qi gong with students at the inter-org retreat, sitting around a table with staff putting together a program or thinking about how to better train and support students, working with people outside our office to integrate sustainability into procurement or to find ways to build more sustainable buildings, exploring a cave, having lunch at PICA with Annie Leonard, every time students would pop into my office to share some news or just say hi, having the Chancellor tell me I was doing a good job. All the close encounters with animals...seeing a bobcat by the library, seeing a mountain lion early in the morning, having a fox cross the road in from of me, the owl that almost pooped on my head. I have so many cherished memories to carry with me!
What have you learned here that you would like to take to your next position at CSUMB?
Not to be cliche, but I will question authority, I will ask questions that challenge the norm. I will let students take the lead and just guide where needed. I will appreciate and value not just getting the job done but connecting with people and will help connect them to the larger picture of sustainability. Those are some of the softer things I will take with me but there are also many lessons related to the progressive projects and actions taken on campus in the field of sustainability that I will take with me and emulate where possible at CSUMB. We are all still on the same team, I'll just be playing on a different field.
What's been your favorite part of being sustainability director at UCSC?
Supporting something larger than myself and doing so with such great people.
Lacey, you will be missed by your colleagues and sustainabilibuddies at UCSC, and we look forward to hearing about the great things you'll be doing in Monterey County!