Even after six years in Alaska, I stop and look around often – once a day, maybe once a week – and think (or sing poorly) the immortal words of David Byrne: “Well, how did I get here?” Living in such a wild and beautiful place, where even my bike commute has spectacular mountain views, still gives me pause. Although I could probably branch out with my musical choice.
The Trip North
I lived the vast majority of my life in the northeast, coming from a fairly large family all born and raised in Queens, New York. I always loved travelling to the mountains, but expected I’d start my career and then live out my days in one of New York City’s bustling boroughs.
Having interned at Hudson Riverkeeper—an association committed to making sure that New Yorkers have clean, safe drinking water– I thought I’d continue handling environmental cleanup litigation for a nonprofit organization, as I’d done during school. I was wrong.
The trip you take with the law
I graduated from Pace Law School in New York in 2011, a time when there were tons of lawyers and very few jobs. Feeling equal parts adventurous and cash-strapped, I eventually started applying to jobs everywhere, declaring that I simply wanted to work during the daytime.
I was secretly worried I may have to move all the way to D.C., which is a nightmare for many New Yorkers. Then I got a phone call from the Bureau of Land Management, offering me a job as the environmental planner for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.
I was speechless, having applied months before and under the assumption that I would never qualify for the job. Once the shock wore off, I boarded a plane with a couple of suitcases, telling myself (and my horrified loved ones) that I would get two years of experience and come right back to New York.
The trip further north
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Alaska is a special place. The skiing, biking, hiking and other recreational opportunities in Anchorage and nearby amazed me. I could do things on the weekends that most people I grew up with could never even dream about.
I also had the unique opportunity while at BLM to travel all over the Western Arctic, or NPR-A, and much of the North Slope. I visited villages, ate traditional foods, and got to know many of the kindest and most interesting people I ever had the pleasure to meet.
I began to understand why these wild places mattered so much, and realized the unique opportunity Alaskans and the nation have to protect them. I realized that over time my passion had shifted to a conservation focus –and that I would never leave Alaska after only two years.
The trip to Trustees
My time with the Department of the Interior gave me amazing opportunities to gain an understanding of issues important to Alaska’s human environment. I have developed a deep commitment to protecting Alaska’s natural resources, and I am now excited to work as an advocate for the wildlands, wildlife and communities here.
I look forward to my new career turn providing legal counsel at Trustees and learning from a great team of attorneys.