When Sara Aminzadeh moved to Houston, Texas with her family as a teenager, the area around her felt shattered. At the time, the city had the worst air pollution in the country, and what was once natural land in its suburbs had been paved and turned into golf courses and other structures – much different from Marin County, which ‘she now calls her home.
These questions and thoughts from a young age helped propel the Kentfield resident into her long-time work as an environmental activist and advocate that really took shape through her studies in political science and environmental studies. at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
After graduating from Hastings College of Law at the University of California, she continued to advocate for environmental issues, particularly the protection of drinking water and coastal waters, through her work as Director executive of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, creating the Blue Business Council, a network of more than 135 companies working to protect California’s waters and deliver the Pisces Foundation’s Water program.
Today, she is vice president of partnerships at the US Water Alliance and sits on the California Coastal Commission, where she was recently reappointed for her second term.
Q What made you decide to work for non-profit organizations?
A When I was little I always had the Sierra Club calendars and loved photos of nature and the environment. I learned to take care of the environment through the Sierra Club and knew I wanted to be a part of something like this. I was really inspired as a student by the environmental movement, part in Santa Barbara with the oil spill there, then as an adult, seeing environmental activism and leadership in the Bay Area. .
Q You have been writing and working on environmental issues for many years. Did you expect us to be where we are today?
A I did. I remember looking at the 2003 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report. It describes drought, forest fires and sea level rise, and I remember trying tell my friends and family about it. People cared about it to some extent, but I feel like I’ve sounded the alarm bells all my adult life. I always wonder, what can I do to create more urgency, to raise this as a consideration for people in my personal life, in the businesses I interact with, online and on the California Coastal Commission? I always challenge myself, my fellow activists and the community to do better.
Q What do you recommend people to do?
A Get more involved in their government at all levels and learn more about the discussions that each community faces, so that they can make their voice heard there, that it means walking along your local stream path and understanding that a restoration effort could be considered. , and how you can get started, or participate in a local cleanup effort in your neighborhood creek, park or coastal area. Just to go out and connect with the environment and connect with the people who are doing their best to manage the environment. And, of course, we are in a time of drought, so challenge yourself to conserve water. I’m still a fan of good old fashioned housekeeping, did it with my son the other day on my way to the playground.
Q Congratulations on your renewal in the commission. How did this experience go?
A I am so honored to have the opportunity. I had studied coastal issues and commission in various research projects since I was 18 years old. Realizing that people on both sides are trying to do good was really powerful. On a personal note, I got pregnant about six weeks after my appointment, then had my baby and was back to meetings with my son, Henry, when he was 6 weeks old, and he will still be there. at meetings, so all my time there was like my son’s whole life. It is an interesting way to mark the time and a very strong reminder of the importance of protecting the coasts. So it was also surreal to have him with him for the trip.