Women's History Month 2023 - Amanda Watson
As the City’s Sustainability Program Manager, my work focuses on advancing the sustainability of City operations and the community as a whole. I work with City departments and community partners to implement the City’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, leading and supporting actions that reduce our community’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve resilience to the impacts of climate change.
I’ve been with the City of Lake Oswego for a year and a half. I previously worked at the City of Portland, and prior to that for a foundation in Washington, DC focused on advancing human rights and democracy around the world. I have always cared a lot about the environment and social justice. As I learned more about the climate crisis and how it impacted human rights, I decided I wanted to shift my career to focus on climate policy. I earned my Master in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School, where I gained an appreciation of the role local governments can play in addressing the climate crisis in a way that centers the needs and solutions of people who are being impacted.
A number of women have served as inspiration and mentors to me throughout my career. Working with women human rights defenders and advocates taught me that empathy can be a strength, and solidarity is essential to keep doing the work under challenging conditions or when progress seems difficult or impossible to achieve. When transitioning to a new career, I learned a lot from women who had been working in the sustainability field for many years and were open and generous with their time and resources. My advice to women just starting their career or considering a career change is don’t hesitate to reach out to people who are doing work you are interested in. Much more often than not, people are glad to speak with you and offer advice, and the more people you talk to the more you can learn.
To me, women’s history month and international women’s day are opportunities to reflect on the contributions of women to society and recognize the work that still needs to be done to ensure that all women enjoy equal rights. Women’s leadership styles tend to focus on collaboration, community-building, and empathy, and these are all skills needed to solve complex issues like climate change and inequality. So we need to continue to empower more women leaders and make sure women of all races, ages, experiences, and abilities can be part of the conversation.
One woman I admire is Vanessa Nakate, a young climate activist who is advocating for climate justice on the international stage and always lifts up the work of others. I am also inspired by Jane Goodall, who did pioneering field research as a young woman and now continues to travel the world at nearly 90 years old talking to people about how they can take action to protect the environment.
Photo: Amanda on a backpacking trip in North Cascades National Park.