Archive for October 2011 | Monthly archive page

posted by | on | Comments Off on Dinner with Dr. Gabriela Chavarria Kicks off DC EcoWomen Mentor Program

We are excited to kick off our new mentoring program with the first of many dinners with some of the top professional women in the environmental field.

Learn more about the first mentor dinner on our events page, or keep reading to learn about the fabulous mentor, Dr. Gabriela Chavarria.

Dr. Gabriela Chavarria

Science Advisor to the Director;  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dr. Gabriela Chavarria has served as Science Advisor to the Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since July 2010. As Science Advisor, Dr. Chavarria serves as counsel to the Service Director and provides leadership on science policy and scientific applications in resource management. This includes leading agency efforts to respond to changes in the global climate system; shaping the Service’s agenda for change toward a science-driven landscape conservation business model; expanding Service capacities to acquire, apply and communicate scientific information; promoting active involvement of the Service and its employees in the larger scientific community; strengthening and expanding partnerships between the Service and other scientific organizations, particularly states and the U.S. Geological Survey; and cultivating the next generation of Service scientists.

Prior to her work with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr. Chavarria served as Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Science Center, where she applied her scientific knowledge to translate the most up-to-date science into solutions for environmental problems. Her close ties to scientists and key policy-makers helped advance NRDC’s goal of uniting sound science with sound policy and education for the mutual benefit of people and nature. She also has served as Vice President for Science and International Conservation at Defenders of Wildlife, Policy Director for Wildlife Conservation at the National Wildlife Federation and as the Director of International and Special Programs at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Washington, D.C. In addition, Dr. Chavarria serves on a number of boards and advisory councils, including the Society for Conservation Biology, the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Committee on Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities, and the Mexican Conservation Fund for Nature. She was also a member of the National Invasive Species Advisory Committee, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and the Black-footed Ferret Recovery Team. She is a member of several professional societies, including the Association for Women in Science, the Society for Conservation Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Ecological Society of America, and The Wildlife Society.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Dr. Chavarria has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the National University of Mexico, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University. Her research focused on the systematics, behavior, and biogeography of Neotropical bumble bees. She has conducted research on these topics in more than 30 countries in North America, Central America, South America, Europe, and Asia, and is a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where she works on pollinator conservation.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Science Advisor, Dr. Gabriela Chavarria. Credit: Clinton Brandhagen.

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Mark your calendars for the eco-party of the year for DC’s green gals and guys! There will be light hors d’oeuvres, prizes and happy hour prices on food and drinks all night.

Wednesday, December 7 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm @ Local 16 (a few blocks from U Street Metro).

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Nancy Bocskor will be speaking at The 2012 Project on Tuesday, October 25, an event co-hosted by DC EcoWomen and Rachel’s Network.

About Nancy Bocskor

Nancy Bocskor is the immediate past Vice President of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, where she chaired the school’s Curriculum Committee for the last five years.  She is on the board for Running Start, an organization that encourages young women to run for office, and, an organization at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management that prepares young leaders for public service.

A graduate of Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, Nancy received the 2010 “Distinguished Alumna Award” for her “passion to affect change in national and international communities through significant and poignant communication, for the training and consulting with our nation’s and world’s political leaders, and for your commitment to educate others, especially women, around the world.”

Nancy is the author of “Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors: A Practical Guide to Fundraising.” She is a professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management where she teaches both online and “live” fundraising courses.  She also teaches advanced public relations writing, political ethics, research methods, communications strategies, and campaign management courses for GSPM’ s online program.

Nancy worked with the family of Jack Kemp to launch the Jack Kemp Foundation in his honor.

As a senior advisor for the Center for Liberty in the Middle East (CLIME), Nancy helped launch its Online Activism Institute for women in the Middle East, the first of its kind in Arabic.  More than 120 women participated in the pilot E-Learning environment in Egypt and Jordan.  Nancy coordinated the mentoring phase, which provided motivated women with personalized one-on-one training and advice to reach their community activism goals. The project was named one of the “Top Ten Who Are Changing the World of Politics and the Internet” and received the prestigious award in October 2009 at the World E*Democracy Forum in Paris.

Nancy was selected by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies as a “mentor” to women candidates from the Middle East, where she spent a week in Turkey training more than a dozen candidates from Jordan, Morocco and Algeria.  One of her candidates was the top woman vote getter in Jordan and is now serving as the youngest woman member of the Parliament.

Nancy Bocskor, tagged a “Democracy Coach” by a major German newspaper, teaches citizens in the United States and internationally how to communicate with passion to affect change in their communities.

Her work on behalf of her clients has been highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and on National Public Radio.  Named a “Rising Star in Politics” by Campaigns & Elections magazine, she was featured in the PBS documentary, “Vote for Me:  Politics in America.”  She has served as a political analyst for CNN, and has appeared on C-SPAN.


Nancy started her political career in the office of then-freshman Congressman Newt Gingrich, and returned to serve as Education Director for Gingrich’s non-partisan organization, American Solutions.  She has served as a chief of staff on Capitol Hill, as a campaign manager, as a fundraiser and as a political educator.  In 1990, Nancy started The Nancy Bocskor Company, a political consulting firm specializing in training for officeholders, candidates and campaign workers, and fundraising for Members of Congress.

Nancy has taught campaign schools in all 50 states and a more than a dozen foreign countries, and consistently receives top marks for her innovative techniques and her humorous anecdotes.

In June 2010, she travelled to La Paz and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where she taught advanced leadership and communication skills to graduate students at two universities.

She travelled to Nigeria in May 2009 where she advised nine women Members of Parliament, and returned there in August to produce a documentary about the women’s path to public service.

Nancy spent a week in guest lecturing at Lake Seliger, a summer camp for young political leaders across Russia, and returned there in July 2010 to teach.  She traveled to Mexico City in to speak to 300 students at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the largest university in Latin America, in September 2009 and again in July 2010.  She also taught attendees from 22 countries at an International School of Fundraising held in England, and conducted a three-day leadership conference in Lithuania for women activists from Belarus.  Nancy was also a keynote speaker at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin and Mainz, Germany.

She regularly meets with aspiring political leaders when they visit the United States, including recently conducting a messaging and leadership development workshop for women from Bahrain at Meridian International.

The Democracy Coach

November 19th, 2007 – Translated from Die Welt (original article)

Nancy Bocskor spreads democracy throughout the world…..the lively American travels from one country to the next coaching candidates on how to win elections, especially encouraging women to make it into parliament.





posted by | Comments Off on October EcoHour Recap: Community History & Revitalization

This is a recap from the 2011 October EcoHour with Kennedy Lawson Smith.

“You can read a community’s history in its buildings,” said Kennedy Lawson Smith to a full house at October’s EcoHour event. Kennedy is one of the nation’s foremost experts on commercial district revitalization and main street economics and has been a leader in downtown economic development for 25 years.

Despite her expertise these days, many years ago she was working in the town of Charlottesville, VA and faced with a problem. How do you get people who work downtown to stay downtown – giving life to local businesses and revitalizing urban centers? By creating a daily ‘soap opera’ acted out by locals to highlight downtown restaurants, people stopped driving to the nearest mall for lunch and started eating at local businesses. By the end of the first week, the number of people eating lunch at local restaurants jumped from 50 people a day to 500 people a day! As Kennedy says, “I was hooked and I never looked back.”

Kennedy spoke to the many ways that small towns and community centers have been left in the dust by large shopping centers and big box stores. As people and businesses start leaving, there’s a surplus of space leading to more vacancies and lower rent prices which begins a downward cycle. But this isn’t the end for these communities. By identifying areas where no one is competing, providing resources and tools, or pursuing local and regional investments communities can often turn the cycle around and start the process of revitalization – bringing their communities back to life.

Community revitalization not only has an important economic component, but an environmental one as well. By re-using and rehabilitating older buildings, people can save money and benefit from the energy efficiencies that many older buildings incorporated before central heating or air conditioning. Kennedy mentioned a building built in the 1500s with an oak roof expected to last 300 years. The builders had planted oak saplings outside so that in 300 years, there would be a ready supply of oak to re-build the roof. Throughout her talk, Kennedy emphasized the importance of looking ahead, being creative with resources, and re-using what you already have to work with. In a sense, learning to plant our own saplings for years ahead, so that communities continue to thrive.

Join us next month on November 15 to hear a panel of three women discuss illegal logging and sustainable forest management.

posted by | Comments Off on The Affordable Net Zero DC Dream House of Jessica Barnhouse

Jessica Barnhouse, one of the female student architects of the award-winning Empowerhouse designed for the 2011 Solar Decathlon has been making houses since she was six.  ‘I’ve always wanted to be an architect,’ she said.   The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.   This year’s Solar Decathlonran from September 23 through October 1 on the National Mall’s West Potomac Park.

Jessica Barnhouse

Empowerhouse, which Barnhouse helped design and build, as part of the 45-person team from Parsons New School for Design and the Stevens Institute of Technology, not only won the competition’s affordability award but will also become a home for a Habitat for Humanity family in DC’s Northeast neighborhood of Deanwood.  Empowerhouse is a site net zero energy home using as much energy as it produces, eliminating electricity bills for its Deanwood occupants.  The home is designed to occupy just 1,000 square feet and cost less than $230,000 to construct. Learn more about the energy efficient design of the house. The house is one of 20 built by Solar Decathlon competitors and the only one ever to remain in DC.

The Empowerhouse team worked in partnership with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, Groundwork Anacostia and Habitat for Humanity of Washington D.C. a volunteer – led non-profit working to build affordable, energy and resource –efficient homes for people in need.

‘We partnered with Habitat for Humanity, because we wanted to push green energy forward. Habitat for Humanity is interested in changing the way they build to incorporate more Passive House standards,’ Barnhouse commented.

Empowerhouse - Back Porch View

The collaboration with the non-profit organization and the Deanwood community added a layer of complexity to an already demanding project.  ‘We came to Washington several times to meet with community stakeholders and incorporate their input into the design of the house. As a result of community feedback the Parson’s students added a north porch facing the street that invites residents and neighbors to congregate as well as private south porch with composting and a cooking surface. The team knew they had to be extremely practical with their design and building approach, Barnhouse said. ‘We as students had to physically build the house and Habitat volunteers had to be able to build it.’  Working with the organization was ‘an inspiration,’ according to Barnhouse.

The project was not without its challenges, she said. The Decathlon required students at times to work outside of their comfort zones. ‘Architects rarely do the actual construction on what they design,’ she said.  ‘As students we didn’t all come to the project knowing how to install sprinkler systems or every detail of electrical codes, but we taught ourselves. If we can do it than others can do it.’

In fact, one of the best parts of the competition to Barnhouse was stretching herself. ‘Personally, I’ve gotten interested in civil engineering as a result of the competition,’ she said.   The energy efficient house is scheduled to be moved to the Deanwood neighborhood later this month where the Parsons team hopes ‘it will serve as an educational tool to inspire community members to incorporate affordable green practices into their everyday lives.  For Barnhouse, it’s now back to the books. She anticipates finishing her Master’s degree with Parsons in 2012.

posted by | Comments Off on We need YOU … Volunteer with our Support Crew!

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