In 2020, the Alliance celebrated the official Year of the Woman by highlighting some of the female-driven achievements of the Chesapeake Bay watershed from the past 100 years. We interviewed dedicated female leaders who are near and dear to our hearts, and the hearts of many in the Chesapeake. We spotlighted environmental enthusiasts, artists, nonprofit leaders, policy and advocacy experts, local elected officials, scientists, and water lovers. Below, we highlighted some of our favorite excerpts from the interviews. To read the full blog, click on their names.

Kristen Reilly, Director of Choose Clean Water Coalition in Annapolis, MD 

Kristin’s advice to younger women entering the workforce is to “Never be afraid to ask for and/or go after what you want. You won’t always be successful, but you will grow and learn until you are.” Kristin also advises women early in their career to “Find someone who inspires you or someone who has the role that you eventually want and create a relationship with them.”

 Stacey Levy, Environmental Artist 

Stacy’s interview for the “Year of the Woman” series was so interesting because of her unique passion for combining a variety of different perspectives and focuses to help people better understand the world around them. Stacy says, “This art component is not about “decorating” science, but about expressing and making science legible and giving scientist a new way to see the world which might lead to more answers.”

Paula Jasinski, President of Green Fin Studio in Richmond, VA 

Paula spoke about female mentors when she entered her field, “I will say that there weren’t many women leaders in science when I was first starting out, except for big names like Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, and Rachel Carson.” However, Paula did mention someone super close to her: her mother. Paula’s mom also has her own business in tourism and public relations. “Although her business is in a completely different sector, just watching her run her own company, has been really inspiring. I learned a lot from her.”

Rebecca Stack, Owner of Designgreen, LCC in Washington, D.C. 

Rebecca grew up in Washington, DC, in the Rock Creek area and said that exploring the city’s great cultural institutions and immense park systems really sparked her interest and love for urban forests. Rebecca said, “A Saturday trip to the Natural History Museum and a Sunday trek through Rock Creek Park were routine when I was young. I believe these are the bookends that drew me to my current work and helped develop a profound love for urban forests.”

 Carmera Thomas-Wilhite, Baltimore Program Manager at Chesapeake Bay Foundation 

Carmera celebrated the Year of the Woman by lifting up other women of color in this field and sharing her story to inspire others. She says, “There are definitely barriers to overcome, and aligning yourself with a support system leads to success.”

 Adventure is Out There, Interview with former Alliance employee, Holly May 

Holly’s  incredible skill sets, passion, and talent will be put to good use at the PA DCNR, Bureau of Forestry in Jefferson County, PA. In her new role, she will be working with private landowners, watershed associations, municipalities, and local governments. She’s excited to go back to fire school and get back into prescribed burning for forest management. Holly remains an active member of her local Trout Unlimited and Pheasant Forever chapters, and in her spare time, she enjoys fly fishing, hunting birds, and training her hunting dog.

 Marylou Barton Environmentalist and Activist in Lancaster, PA

When asked about female role models in her life, Marylou mentioned the League of Women Voters, which had an incredible impact on Marylou’s life. Their commitment to women’s issues inspired and motivated her to pursue her passions.

Caroline Brewer, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Audubon Naturalists Society in Chevy Chase, MD 

Caroline’s mother, a woman who has always loved telling stories, inspired Caroline to share the stories of others, as well as to write stories of her own. She is an author, speaker, and literary activist and the founder of Unchained Spirit Enterprises, a publishing and consulting company. Caroline has authored a number of books for children, parents and teachers, including Kara Finds Sunshine on a Rainy Day and C is for Cocoa. In the environmental field, she noted that so many stories that we hear are about men. Yet, there are so many amazing women whose stories we are only beginning to tell.

 Krista Weaterhford, Director of Programming and Community Engagement at historic estate park, Maymont in Richmond, VA  

When you meet Krista Weatherford, you can’t help but feel welcomed into her circle of friends. I met Krista in my first year of working for the Alliance. The environmental education field here in Virginia sometimes feels like one big family and we had crossed paths several times before she invited me in as a partner on a NOAA B-WET grant for Maymont. Three years later, I am still humbled by the way Krista can connect an audience to the natural world.

Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Secretary Dunn also offered advice for young professionals starting out. She simply says, “know yourself, know your strengths, and follow your passions. Don’t be too rigid, but let your path find you. A simple act of stepping up and volunteering can lead to new opportunities. Be open to advice from people who know you well, or might be further down the path than you might be. Keep moving forward, even if things get tough. And of course, don’t forget to keep a sense of humor!”