Published: May 3, 2021

Michell Stewart

Michelle Stewart, Executive Director, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council

Michelle O. Stewart, Ph.D. 2014, is currently the Executive Director (ED) of Yampa Valley Sustainability Council (YVSC), based in Steamboat Springs, CO. YVSC is guided by the mission "to serve as a resource and catalyst for building a sustainable community in the Yampa Valley region." As ED, Michelle is responsible for strategic planning, financial growth and management, program development, staff management, and overall organizational function. Michelle uses her teaching, research, mentoring and grant-writing skills on a daily basis to develop programs, partnerships and education that bring sustainability-related knowledge to action at the community level. The organization's priority areas span Climate Action, Waste, Michelle StewartEnergy and Transportation, Advocacy for Action and Community Education and Engagement. Having taught both in the classroom (she was the Pick Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Amherst College from 2013-2016) and online since 2013 (she was remote adjunct faculty in the Program of Environmental Policy and Management at University of Denver/University College as well as teaching a Geography courese for CU Boulder Continuing Education), Michelle values the opportunity to step into practice, and the related challenges and rewards of developing programs that advance equity, impact and collaboration in the environmental realm. She regularly works with local government, businesses, nonprofit partners, and institutions to bring programs of impact to the Yampa Valley. New to YVSC in 2021 is its YVSC Internship Program, which seeks to provide young professionals with experiences, training and professional development opportunities through project-based action. Michelle is happy to talk with current graduate students who are interested in learning more about how their graduate training equips them for the nonprofit sector:

Galen Murton

Galen Murton (Ph.D. 2014), Assistant Professor, Geographic Science Program, James Madison University

It was great to see and reconnect with many CU Boulder Geography alumni, graduate students, and faculty at the Annual Meeting of the AAG in April. Despite the very different nature of this year’s event being entirely on Zoom, I was again reminded of the vastness of the CU Geography network and the amazing work that this community does. 

Indeed, one of the most valuable post-graduate experiences I’ve had – and continue to have on a pretty regular basis – is the opportunity to collaborate with friends and colleagues from Guggenheim at conferences, workshops, classrooms, and fieldsites around the world. Beyond the annual rendezvous at AAG, this includes organizing and co-chairing panels at conferences such as the Association for Asian Studies, the Annual Conference on South Asia, Dimensions of Political Ecology, and the Himalayan Studies Conference; it is always exciting and motivating to reconnect and share research interests with both students and faculty at these kinds of events. When on the road abroad (back when we could do that – and hopefully we can do so again soon), impromptu and planned meetings with fellow PhD alumni in places like Singapore, Chengdu, and Munich have provided invaluable orientations on first visits to many new places. Over the past couple of years, I’ve also been fortunate to participate in workshops with Emily Yeh and Tim Oakes not only in Colorado but also Germany, Austria, and Nepal; the conversations we’ve continued in these venues are a helpful reminder that my dissertation project did not end with a nerve-wracking defense on campus some years ago but has instead evolved into a productive relationship of collaborative thinking (but still with a healthy dose of critique, too). 

Ongoing connections with CU Geography also go well beyond the confines of academic-oriented dialogue; interaction with alumni working as applied geographers in a variety of positions across both the public and private sectors is also a consistent reminder of that which we do – writing the earth and attending to much of what goes on (and below, and above) it. In my own experience, workshops and meetings at Esri in Washington, DC and data on wildfire hazards during increasingly devastating seasons reinforces the expert knowledge and exceptional resources that this community comprises – something that I am ever grateful (and impressed!) to be able to call upon. From the Political Geography Specialty Group of the AAG to leading scientists in Colorado at NOAA, NCAR, NREL, CIRES, USGS, and an alphabet soup of other research laboratories, we are everywhere!

I am happy to remain familiar with CU Boulder Geography and hope that you are, too. Get involved, stay connected, and keep in touch! And I’ll come say hi at Guggenheim next time I’m in town as well.

Eric Lovell, ESRI

After spending 2012-2018 interpreting the delicate, sometimes convoluted intersection of Science and Technology Studies and Political Ecology, I departed academia only to find myself at the beck and call of a technoscientific giant often associated with the discipline of Geography – Esri. I am on the Nonprofits & Global Organizations team at Esri, where I support the US Agency for International Development (USAID), USAID implementing partners, and humanitarian affairs NGOs with integrating GIS into their enterprise IT systems. From advising on the latest field data collection tools to managing unstructured data (like oral narratives related to livestock mobility), I still put on my geographer’s cap to help organizations develop their spatial literacy and understandings about how GIS can be used in everyday business operations. When I am not at work, I escape to my home states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania to bike backroads and forage for ramps (wild leeks) and other Appalachian delicacies. Despite missing the camaraderie of the graduate seminar, I have come to embrace the life of a cyborg in all its glory.