In order to best showcase my professional experience, I created a digital portfolio at the link below. This link details a selection of work over the past three years, all of which I am very proud of and grateful for the incredible support given by my friends here in Montevallo and across the state.
In October 2012, I led a team of students from the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment as we sought new resources and opportunities to bring resolution to several major issues affecting the municipal drinking water sources of Greater Birmingham. After multiple meetings with key legislators representing the area, we developed the “Campaign for the Greater Birmingham Drinking Water Commission”, our organization’s (and my own’s) first foray into the Alabama political arena.
It quickly became apparent that we all had a lot to learn if our campaign was to be successful. So, after writing the legislation ourselves, I then took the initiative to set meetings between our team and all agencies that would become a part of our new Commission. From December- January, we met with representatives from each state institution listed, and incorporated their edits before officially introducing our legislation into the 2013 Alabama Legislative Session.
For my personal role, I ensured that CASE had the funds to provide transportation twice a week for our members to actively lobby our elected officials for their support on this issue, in addition to my steady role as Public Relations Director, drafting press releases/advisories as needed. I also created all informational handouts needed, such as this one.
From February 1 – current, I dedicated 12 hours per week to actively lobbying in the Legislature, to ensure that our legislation got the bi-partisan support that it would need to pass. Currently, House Joint Resolution 191/Senate Joint Resolution 79 is supported by a consortium Republican Democratic leadership, in and outside of the Greater Birmingham area.
I coordinated digital and personal outreach to diverse representatives of Alabama industrial, educational, environmental, public health, and advocacy communities to ensure the grassroots support we would need to win. My greatest success was in connecting to Indian Springs School, and CASE concerns to become a realistic focal point of an 8-week program designed to allow ISS students to create water policy recommendations for the State of Alabama. These videos lend the best explanation of my work with ISS:
I also served as the lead coordinator of our April 9th “Power Day”, an all-day press conference/lobbying event that brought in over 75 students from our 8 university coalition partners from across the state. You can find more information about my role in that event here, and how I helped create an environment where our students felt comfortable participating in the legislative process, many for the first time in their lives!
*This post will be updated as the legislative session reaches its close this May. For more information on how you can support the work of the students of Alabama, please seek out “CASE: The Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment” via Facebook, and stay alert for our upcoming email outreach tactic.
Policy Development Experience: Creating an Institutional Portfolio of No- and Low-Cost Energy Savings Policies (October 2012- April 2013)
In October 2012, I was approached by the University of Montevallo Director of Facilities and Energy Officer to assist them in researching and creating new policies that would allow UM to reach compliance with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s Executive Order 25, which mandates that all state institutions reduce their energy expenses by 30% from 2005 levels by 2015.
Since UM is a member of COPLAC, I first conducted research into all 26 national COPLAC schools, to see where these universities stood in terms of various energy-efficiency and waste reduction policies. I then expanded this research to include Alabama’s public higher-ed institutions, and multiple campuses associated with the American Association of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Here’s the executive summary of that research.
From this research, I then worked collaboratively with UM ‘s Energy Officer to create a list of policy recommendations, which were then presented to and approved by our Director of Facilities and Vice President of Financial Affairs.We called it our Energy-Efficiency Policy Portfolio.
At their direction, from my role as a Senator in our Student Government Association, I wrote a resolution requesting the formation of a new campus committee with the directive of creating an implementation plan for these policies, for final top-level administrative approval. I also worked with the UM Environmental Club to collect over 300 letters of support from UM students (10% of our campus population) to show widespread student support.
This resolution was then presented by myself to our campus’ Faculty-Senate, who gave full endorsement and passed on a list of student recommendations for the charge, composition, and timeline of the committee to our campus President.
Along the way, I expanded the charge of the committee, so that the new “Energy Expenses and Waste Reduction Committee” could be a standing committee, and continue to support new projects at UM long after I was gone. To this end, I secured a commitment from Alabama Power Company to support a no-cost, no obligation energy audit of campus, opened the door for further corporate innovation and buy-in, and a directive to explore the creation of new internal funding mechanisms to support energy savings projects with a guaranteed Return On Investment.
I worked with a good friend and designer to create the additional reports that will help them move forward for future progress, which are both listed below:
For Summer 2012, I worked with a team of students and professionals to economically develop a 150-acre plot of University of Montevallo-owned property as an educational Preserve and recreational trail system The proposal was created for presentation to the University of Montevallo Space Utilization Committee, and was proposed as an expansion of sustainable design elements at the existing James Wylie Shepherd Observatory Complex, a regional leader in deep-sky astronomical observation and future Platinum-LEED facility.
Ultimately, despite our student team having raised over $15,000 for the JWS Observatory site itself, UM faculty were heavily concerned that making such a large ask of our campus planners would create a situation where campus administrators would remove faculty/student control of existing “green” infrastructure projects on campus, and so blocked the project proposal from ever reaching the SUC. Though the vision of the project proposal went unrealized, I am very proud of my work in packaging all aspects of the project for public and private presentation to potential community and regional supporters.
Throughout the entire process, I held firmly to a core belief that the environmental preservation of the campus property would be best pursued by showing how a Preserve could bring new eco-tourism and recreational programming to our community. Additionally, at the heart of the proposal was the support of nearby communities and volunteer organizations who had already seen highly beneficial eco-tourism dollars enter their local economies by way of similar trail development/environmental preservation projects.
Below are all the proposal package components, created by myself in constant collaboration with our team of volunteers.
This is the official proposal for the project.
This is our comprehensive presentation created to showcase to the UM Space Utilization Committee (last 7 pages are incomplete).
This is the proposed draft “Land Management Document”, detailing all proposed allowable/prohibited uses of property, composition and responsibility of property supervisory Board, and short/long-term goals for the development of the property.
Report detailing an itinerary of future implementation actions for the proposal.
This draft document outlined opportunities for incorporating existing university courses into educational outdoor programming at the property.
This reference sheet was created to ensure that all student team members could articulate the core messaging points of the proposal.
This document represents a five-tiered advocacy campaign proposed by myself and our student team to ensure large-scale campus/community support for the project.
The following form letters were created as the first phase of a large-scale fundraising/support campaign for the project. These letters were intended to help present the diverse community benefits of moving forward with the project proposal.
Report explaining past public relations capabilities (identical to “Public Relations Experience” blog entries).
The image below is of the proposed trail system. Each color corresponds to a specific phase of trail construction (more accurate image, with explanation key, to come)
I have had some great success in coordinating complex media events to showcase organizational progress.
The first media event I coordinated was on behalf of the City of Montevallo. I worked with fellow students and B-Metro Magazine reporters Jesse Chambers and Edward Badham for a feature piece on sustainability and community activism in Montevallo. For this event, I organized two all-day tours of the community, with multiple destinations, public speakers, and photo opportunities throughout.
This is a copy of the agenda I created for the media event:
This is the feature article itself:
08/01/2012: “Montevallo Vibe” by Jesse Chambers, B-Metro Magazine
The second media event I coordinated was for a collaboration between Indian Springs School and the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment (CASE). To support the work of ISS 8th-graders statewide water policy development project, I brought in all business, environmental, and public health/policy stakeholders involved in a nearby water use issue. Due to the controversial nature of the water use issue (a proposed coal mine adjacent to a drinking water intake for approximately 200,000 people) this media event was a unique opportunity for CBS 42 camera crews to document the unique perspectives of all stakeholders as they responded to questions from our students.
A week later, we brought CASE and ISS students to Montgomery to participate in an all-day Lobby Day and press conference. I and my team were able to have CBS 42 and several local reporters present to document a panel discussion on the importance of clean, lasting drinking water for the Greater Birmingham region.
I facilitated the proceedings, and also accommodated guest speakers Senator Priscilla Dunn (D-Jefferson) and Representative Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Indian Springs) with opportunities to address the students and members of the press.
More information pertaining to my coordination of the Lobby Day event itself can be found in the “Experience: Large-Scale Lobbying Events”
Public Relations Experience, September 2012- current: The Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment
This entry showcases a selection of press coverage coordinated by myself in my role as Public Relations Director for the Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment (CASE), a statewide student coalition uniting 8 Alabama Universities for the increased economic and ecological sustainability of the state of Alabama.
All press advisories/releases were written by myself and then distributed to a 250+ register of local, state, and regional paper and digital news outlets.
Hyperlinks in this document will take you to the original copy of each press advisory/release and to actual press coverage on outside sites.