Louis Bacon Environmental Leadership Fellow
Harvard Kennedy School, MPA ’18
Stanford Graduate School of Business, MBA ’18
What specific leadership lesson did you take away from your co-curricular sessions or activities at CPL?
The negotiation lesson to seek the deeper "interests" behind the specific "positions" that my counterpart and I voice may sound basic, but can be profound in practice. I found that making space to understand those interests (including our own, which we often assume incorrectly that we understand perfectly) and brainstorm creative solutions to address those interests turns conflict situations into joint problem-solving challenges and generates ideas for resolution that otherwise would not be discovered. This skill is imperative for addressing environmental conflicts -- so much so that another Bacon Fellow and I pursued additional training with professional mediators over the summer to enhance our negotiation and conflict resolution skills.
Talk about the elements of the fellowship experience that were most meaningful within your specific cohort.
The breadth of experience and perspective added invaluable nuance and richness to my understanding of how to promote positive environmental change. Bacon Fellows have come from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors; with expertise on climate change, conservation, agriculture, water quality, and other environmental challenges; from many countries and continents; and at different points in their career. In the steep learning curve that is one's early professional life, it is easy to quickly narrow one's view of what constitutes environmental success and how to reach it. Re-complicating my understanding of environmental leadership through the varied experiences of my fellow fellows made me a better, wiser, and more collaborative advocate.
In what ways do you think your experiences at CPL and HKS have helped you get better at what you do or hope to do?
My career focus is creating a more inclusive and sustainable economy in which both prosperity and a healthy environment are available to everyone. Achieving this future requires strong relationships with leaders across sectors and an integrated set of hard and soft skills. My experiences within the Bacon cohort, CPL, HKS, and Harvard more broadly served like a set of concentric circles that helped me meet those requirements in increasingly holistic settings. The cohort experience generated close relationships with leaders throughout the environmental movement while building my understanding of environmental issues. My time at CPL broadened that set of close relationships to include inspiring colleagues working across many issue areas and provided intensive learning opportunities with luminaries from the HKS faculty. My HKS studies integrated technical and sector-specific training with experiential learning on soft but crucial skills such as organizing, negotiation, and an understanding of group dynamics -- all within the context of a world-class university that attracts people who push the frontier in their respective fields. It's hard to imagine a better setting to develop the relationships and skills I need to advance the social, economic, and environmental change I seek.