AEP Podcast

Episode 19: Addressing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Environmental Profession ft. La Mikia Castillo, Castillo Consulting Partners

La Mikia has over two decades of experience in leadership development, strategic planning, design thinking, grassroots community organizing, youth engagement, policy advocacy and systems change. A commitment to social justice and racial equity permeates each aspect of her personal and professional life.

La Mikia supports organizations with developing, implementing, and assessing data-driven strategies, she designs and facilitates leadership development trainings, conducts equity assessments, and moderates important conversations around race, bias, and equity. Her expertise lies in helping companies effectively embed equity, inclusion, diversity, access and anti-racism into their leadership, policies, and procedures so they can best support and retain their people.

An Afro-Latina who was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, La Mikia is a first-generation alumna who has committed her life and career to developing leaders, investing in communities, and promoting equity. She holds Bachelors‘ degrees in Ethnic Studies and Urban Studies & Planning from UCSD, dual Master's degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning, and Certificates in Public Management, Political Management, and the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate from USC, where she serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. La Mikia also teaches Black, Latino and Latin American Relations courses in the Pan African Studies Department at Cal State Los Angeles.


Episode 18: Mentoring the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders ft. Carey Fernandes, Dudek

Carey Fernandes is a Principal at Dudek with almost 30 years of professional planning-related experience specializing in the planning, environmental, and development industries. Her diverse background of education and experience includes permit processing with local jurisdictions, coordination with public agency staff, preparation of CEQA and NEPA documents, project management, due diligence, and feasibility analysis.

She has also served as project manager and primary author of many environmental review documents throughout San Diego and Imperial counties, including the San Diego County wind ordinance. She also works with several Native American tribes in the western United States in the preparation of tribal environmental documents. Through this experience, she has developed a broad understanding of policy, planning, and environmental issues which she discusses in this episode.


Episode 17: Creating Sustainable Communities, ft. Jose Bodipo-Memba and Christopher Mundhenk

In this episode, we feature Jose Bodipo-Memba and Christopher Mundhenk. Jose is the Interim Chief Diversity Officer at SMUD, and responsible for company-wide programs and services such as human resources, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, and sustainable communities. His focus is to advocate for diversity, inspire an inclusive culture based on trust and respect, and to create belonging and connection among SMUD‘s employees, customers, and communities, ultimately resulting in equitable outcomes for all.

Chris is the Environmental Practice Group Leader and a Principal at Ascent Environmental. Over the past 22 years, Chris has been managing and preparing environmental analysis documents for a wide variety of projects pursuant to CEQA. His career has been spent in the environmental consulting industry, in addition to serving as in-house staff for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California between 2002 and 2005. Chris serves the curriculum committees for AEP‘s CEQA Essentials and Advanced CEQA workshops, assisting environmental professionals throughout California to learn and refresh on best practices and emerging trends in the world of environmental planning and analysis.

Sustainable Communities Resource Priorities Map -

https://usage.smud.org/SustainableCommunities

AEP is collecting feedback via survey on its DEI Initiative. We you to share your experiences with diversity, equity and inclusion at AEP to help us better understand our current statewide membership and how we can strengthen DEI within our organization and throughout the environmental profession. June 6 is the final day to complete the survey, we appreciate your valuable feedback to help us move forward. To show our appreciation, the AEP chapter with the highest rate of submissions will receive funds to be used towards a membership appreciation event!

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AEP-DEI


Episode 16: CEQA Series: UC Berkeley Housing Ruling, ft. Andrew Keatts, Howard Blackson, and Kristin Blackson

This is the second episode in a series focusing on current events related to the California Environmental Quality Act – known as CEQA - which is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.

In this episode, we have a panel featuring Andrew Keatts, Howard Blackson, Kristin Blackson - moderated by Laurel Glass Lees. The panel offers diversity in perspectives on CEQA as it relates to the California Supreme Court ruling regarding the UC Berkeley housing case.

Andrew is the Managing Editor of Voice of San Diego – he sees land use coverage as a way to make sense of the complex land-use decisions governments make while explaining how those decisions affect the daily lives of San Diegans.

Howard is an urban designer, author, lecturer, and educator with over 30 years of experience. He works with AVRP Studios in San Diego managing the design and entitlement of mixed-use projects and codes for public and private clients across North America.

We welcome Kristin back to join the panel - She is a Senior CEQA Project manager with Harris + Associates, a member of the California AEP State board and co-chair of the legislative committee.


Episode 15: CEQA Series: A World Without CEQA ft. Kristin Blackson, Harris & Associates

This is the first episode in a multi-part series focusing on the California Environmental Quality Act – known as CEQA - which is intended to inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.

To kick off the series, we feature Kristin Blackson, a Senior CEQA Project Manager with Harris + Associates, where she manages projects with the goal of making CEQA compliance an efficient part of the process rather than a roadblock. As an expert in the ever-changing world of CEQA, Kristin is constantly researching and reviewing regulations to make the process of disclosing environmental impacts seamless for agencies. 

She shares her expertise as a professor for the UCSD Extension CEQA Certificate Program, teaching introductory and advanced courses. She is also co-chair of the AEP Legislative Committee, where she has successfully advocated for revising and creating CEQA legislation that benefits practitioners—and the public—throughout California. These roles combine to keep Kristin on the leading edge of CEQA, uniquely positioning her to solve challenging problems.


Episode 14: Planning for the Future of California Transportation, ft. Toks Omishakin, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)

In this episode, we have a special guest co-host Neil Peacock, who interviews a key leadership figure in the transportation industry. Neil is President of the Superior California Chapter of AEP and serves as a Senior Environmental Planner with California Department of Transportation (CalTrans).

Our featured guest is Toks Omishakin, who currently serves as Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency and recently served as Director of Caltrans, where he oversaw a $17 billion transportation budget and supported nearly 22,000 employees across 12 Districts that serve the entire State Highway System and its partnering networks.

Secretary Omishakin’s leadership vision for the State’s transportation system focuses on providing a safe, equitable, sustainable, and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong local partnerships and advances the foundational principles of safety, equity, and climate action.

Toks champions an organizational culture of transformative innovation and intelligent risk-taking that will be needed to achieve zero traffic deaths and reduce Green House Emissions from the transportation sector by 40% by 2030.

Before coming to California, Toks served with Tennessee Department of Transportation where he successfully established a number of environmental and transportation planning policies across a number of Divisions. Prior to that, he served as Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Mayor’s Office for the City of Nashville, Tennessee where he helped establish a more balanced approach to transportation planning and roadway design.

In addition to these leadership roles, Mr. Omishakin is Chair of the Council on Active Transportation for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and serves on the Board of several non-profit and academic institutions.


Episode 13: Environmental Planning for Rural Jurisdictions ft. Bob Brown, SNH Engineers & Geologists

In this episode, we speak with Bob Brown, Principal Planner with SHN Engineers and Geologists. Bob has been in the ’far north‘ coastal part of California for 40 years – where he has spent a majority of his career as a contract municipal planner and CEQA practitioner. Bob has a passion for rural issues, and currently leads the five rural SHN offices providing municipal planning services to rural jurisdictions, permitting for private clients and environmental impact assessments to everyone in between. Bob recently was part of a team that prepared the EIR for the removal of the Klamath Dams in California and was responsible for analyzing many of the associated construction-related impacts. He is currently working on port-side development associated with off-shore wind. He is a Board Member with the AEP San Francisco Chapter and has taught the CEQA/NEPA course at Humboldt State University (now Cal Poly Humboldt) for 14 years where he has the opportunity to influence his future regulators.


Episode 12: Establishing Creditability for Environmental Professionals ft. Betty Dehoney, Dehoney Consulting

In this episode, we speak with Betty Dehoney, with Dehoney Consulting. Betty has more than 40 years of experience conducting environmental studies for regulatory compliance and impact assessments throughout the United States. She specializes in managing complex, controversial projects, while maintaining sensitivity to the potential for litigation, and approaches each project with an eye to preventing a viable challenge under the environmental process. While focusing on infrastructure, she has delivered projects across sectors including Water (supply and resources), Transportation (roads, rail, ports, airports), Resources (energy, mining, solid waste) and Federal government. Betty has served as Past President of the National Association of Environmental Professionals and is on the Legislative Review Committee for the California Association of Environmental Professionals. You’ll hear more from Betty about her career path and experience - we hope you enjoy this episode!


Episode 11: Building Relationships to Make A Difference ft. Shona Ganguly, The Nature Conservancy

In this episode, we speak with Shona Ganguly, External Affairs Advisor at The Nature Conservancy in California. Shona maneuvers through the terrain of environmental policy in southern California - managing relationships with local, state, and federal legislators, officials, partner organizations, and supporting conservation programs in southern California. Shona is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley (BA in Development Studies and South Asian Studies), Claremont Graduate University (MA in Cultural Studies), and the Peter Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Management (MBA). She lives in Los Angeles with her son, husband, and two Husky-Malamute-Shepherds. In her spare time, she supports her family’s Indian apparel boutique, Pia Ka Ghar and serves as the President of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. We hope you enjoy this episode!


Episode 10: Using a Private Sector Approach to Public Sector Leadership, ft. Adam Rush, City of Banning

In this episode, we speak with Adam Rush, Community Development Director, for the City of Banning. In his role, Adam‘s mission is to provide effective and efficient municipal services with a friendly and business-forward attitude. Adam‘s approach to treating government services like one would treat customers in the private sector is critical to ensure a city succeeds in growing new and vibrant communities. He spent ten years with County of Riverside Planning Department where he developed a strong background in Community Planning and Environmental Compliance and gained experience in transportation and planning activities as well as long-range strategic plans. We hope you enjoy hearing from Adam and his approach to leadership.


Episode 9: Leadership in the Public Sector ft. Mindy Fogg, County of Ventura

In this episode, we speak with Mindy Fogg, the Executive Vice President for AEP. She has over 20 years professional experience as a Land Use/Environmental Planner and CEQA Practitioner in both the private and public sectors. She is currently serving as a Planning Manager for the County of Ventura where she leads the Commercial and Industrial Permitting Section. She has managed numerous public and private projects, such as General Plan Amendments, Specific Plans, Subdivisions, Habitat Conservation Plans, Ordinance Amendments, Cannabis Permits, Mining Projects, Oil and Gas Projects, and Renewable Energy Permits. Mindy has been actively involved with AEP since 2008.


Episode 8: Building Community Through Planning ft. Meredith Reynolds, City of Long Beach

In this episode, we feature Meredith Reynolds, the Special Deputy City Manager for Recovery for the City of Long Beach. Meredith has worked on critical efforts in community services, parks and open space, sustainability, and innovation in Long Beach and in Irvine. She has served as the Long Beach Park Planning and Partnerships Manager and Park Development Officer – where she created a strong focus on equitable and inclusive community engagement and partnerships and developed park and open space projects. During the pandemic, Meredith was reassigned to the Long Beach Health Department and was responsible for setting up COVID-19 testing sites across the city of Long Beach. Meredith also oversees the Long Beach Management Assistant Program – a local government management fellowship program – currently accepting applications through January 17, 2022 at www.longbeach.gov. We hope you enjoy hearing from Meredith!


Episode 7: Leading through Law, Business and Policy ft. Amy Steinfeld

In this episode, we feature Amy Steinfeld, Santa Barbara Office Managing Partner with Brownstein. Amy is a land use and water lawyer with a broad understanding of environmental issues and a passion for the cannabis industry. Operating in one of the most heavily regulated industries and states, her passion and genuine concern for her clients is critical to her success. Amy is co-founder and co-chair of the California H2O Women Conference, which provides an opportunity to collaborate, educate and support women leaders in the water industry – check out their upcoming conference January 2022 at http://www.californiah2owomenconference.com. We hope you enjoy hearing from Amy!


Episode 6: Becoming a Cultural Resource Manager ft. Annemarie Cox, PanGIS, Inc.

In this episode, we feature Annemarie Cox - Marketing Manager and Cultural Resource Specialist with PanGIS, Inc. She provides geodatabase development for cultural and historical resources, data analysis and report writing, environmental compliance services, artifact curation, marketing, public outreach and advocacy. She has served as California Archaeology Month coordinator for the Society for California Archaeology and is a California Project Archaeology Facilitator and California Site Steward for CASSP. Annemarie has close to 30 years of experience in the cultural resource management field including conducting archaeological field surveys, archaeological site recording, testing, construction monitoring; and laboratory work, including prehistoric and historic artifact identification, cataloging, and analysis. We hope you enjoy hearing from Annemarie.


Episode 5: Becoming an Expert Environmental Planner ft. Terry Rivasplata, ICF

The Environmental Leadership Chronicles podcast is brought to you by the California Association of Environmental Professionals. In this episode, we feature Terry Rivasplata, an expert consultant with ICF. Terry has 40 years of experience in land use planning and CEQA analysis. At ICF, a full service CEQA and NEPA consulting firm, Terry has prepared NEPA and CEQA documents for projects ranging in size and complexity from school expansions to California’s high speed rail project. He currently provides strategic advice to project staff and clients on NEPA and CEQA compliance. Terry is a popular instructor for the U.C. Davis Continuing and Professional Education program teaching several courses on NEPA and CEQA. He writes the AEP Environmental Assessor that summarizes current CEQA case law. He is a co-author of the CEQA tutorial Practical CEQA. We hope you enjoy hearing from Terry!


Episode 4: Finding your Purpose ft. Brian Mooney, RICK Engineering Company

In this episode, we feature Brian Mooney. Brian serves as the managing principal of the Community Planning and Sustainable Development Division at RICK Engineering Company. He has more than 40 years’ experience in planning, public outreach, environmental analysis, research, and development of public policy. He is highly respected in public and private planning arenas and is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is also chairman of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) San Diego-Tijuana District Council - which promotes responsible land use and sustainable communities in the Cali Baja megaregion.


Episode 3: Environmental Planning for Environmental Justice ft. Claudia Garcia, ICF

Claudia serves on the State Executive Board for the California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP), and is an environmental planner with ICF. Her career path was challenging as an immigrant and the first person in her family to receive both an undergraduate and a graduate degree. She has worked on projects that include environmental justice, community outreach, and environmental analyses and CEQA documents.


Episode 2: The Importance of Mentorship ft. Marie Campbell, Sapphos Environmental

Marie Campbell is an elected, at-large board member for the California Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP). She has also served as former president of National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), and is the sole-owner and President of Sapphos Environmental - an environmental consulting business. Marie discusses the importance of making Investments to achieve long-term goals by choosing to make investments that benefit the greatest number of people. Marie has a breadth of knowledge and experience to share, we hope you enjoy this episode.


Episode 1: Path to Environmental Leadership ft. Katie Laybourn, Harris & Associates

Katie Laybourn is the President of the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals (AEP). She is a biologist, aquatic resources specialist, and drone pilot at Harris & Associates. Katie shares her journey to becoming an environmental professional, including her educational path, career path, getting involved with AEP as a university student, internships and how her involvement with AEP led to her first professional environmental job.