Over the last several years, there have been a number of regional collaborations at varying scales that have moved forward and are having significant impact. This panel would provide examples of those regional collaborations, discuss their geographic footprint (e.g. one city/county, multiple city/counties), their goals and scope, types of members and partners and successes and challenges. A component of this panel would be a discussion of how to best leverage each type of collaboration for the most benefit and prevent duplication of efforts. Some panelists will also discuss how diversity, equity and inclusion has been embedded in their work.
Collaborations that will be highlighted include:
- Central Coast Climate Collaborative: Serves as an organizing platform that bridges across sectors and scales to catalyze and advance equitable climate solutions throughout the six counties in the Central Coast.
- Santa Barbara Regional Climate Collaborative: A growing multi-sector network of organizations working together to advance climate mitigation and resiliency efforts in Santa Barbara County. The Collaborative advances regional scale climate solutions through coordination and partnership.
- Resilient Central Coast Campaign: A multi-prong approach to community engagement that spans six counties. The Campaign provides an online platform called BrightAction, which will provide online educational resources. The platform will be coupled with outreach conducted by paid organizers, who will recruit community engagement leaders.
- Tri-County Regional Energy Network: A partnership between the Counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura established to deliver energy-saving programs and industry trainings that help reduce energy use, strengthen local job markets, and support efforts to achieve climate goals.
- Regional Climate Projects Working Group: Six public agencies working with Ecology Action and the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz (fiscal agent) with the goal of developing regional, scaled electrification projects.
Ashley Watkins, Division Chief, Sustainability Division, County of Santa Barbara
Ashley Watkins has over 15 years of experience developing and managing local, state and federal energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. She currently serves as the Division Chief for the County of Santa Barbara’s Sustainability Division where she is responsible for strategic planning, program management, stakeholder engagement and securing funding for new sustainability programs and initiatives. Ashley is also Co-Director of the Tri-County Regional Energy Network (3C-REN). Ashley previously worked for Ecology Action as the Central Coast Regional Program Manager for the statewide Energy Upgrade California Program managing program staff in the region and developing outreach strategies to property owners, contractors and other key stakeholders. Prior to that, Ashley served as the Manager of Education and Training Programs for the Center for Sustainable Energy where she was responsible for identifying workforce needs, developing educational trainings and obtaining grant funding for workforce development programs. Ashley earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from San Francisco State University.
Erin Maker, Environmental Program Manager, Public Works, City of Carpinteria
Erin Maker has almost 15 years of experience working in local government. She created and manages the City of Carpinteria’s Sustainability and Environment Division, which oversees energy, solid waste, and watershed management programs. In her role as Environmental Program Manager she also works on climate adaptation and mitigation capital projects, which allows her to work closely with the community. Her passion is working on collaborative approaches to climate adaptation with a strong focus on equity, justice, and inclusion. She currently serves as a member of the Santa Barbara Climate Collaborative Steering Committee.
Kirsten Liske, Vice President, Community Programs, Ecology Action
Kirsten is grateful to serve as the Vice President of Community Programs at Ecology Action, a kick-butt innovative nonprofit making the world a better place by helping people act now with available, affordable solutions to the climate crisis. She lives and works in Santa Cruz, California, a seaside redwood haven that she could not leave after graduating (with honors) from UCSC, a college reknown for having the nation’s coolest mascot, the banana slug. During Kirsten’s tenure at Ecology Action of Santa Cruz, the organization has experienced significant growth in size and breadth of program expertise, growing from a staff of 9 and a budget of $591,000 to a current staff of over 100 and a budget of over $18 million. Kirsten’s contributions to Ecology Action are her ability to grow and establish new programs, build successful collaboratives, and manage high performance teams. Kirsten enjoys taking long walks up big hills with heavy packs and diving in alpine lakes with friends. If she could have just one superhero power she would pick, selfishly, to fly, or philanthropically, to activate healing and collectivism in every heart she touches.
Dr. Tiffany Wise-West, PE, Sustainability and Climate Action Manager, City Manager’s Office, Climate Action Program, City of Santa Cruz
Dr. Tiffany Wise-West is a licensed professional civil engineer with over 25 years of experience in environmental planning, policy and infrastructure project design and management. Drawing on her interest in innovation and education, she specializes in collaborating across public, private and academic sectors to deliver award winning and impactful emissions mitigation and climate adaptation initiatives.
Heather Allen, Program Administrator, CEO Sustainability, County of Ventura
Heather has more than 16 years of experience working in local government on energy and climate mitigation and adaptation programs. Heather started her career as a land use planner for the County of Santa Barbara and currently works for the County of Ventura’s Sustainability Division. In her role as Sustainability Program Administrator, Heather implements local and regional energy, electrified transportation, and climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. Through Ventura County Regional Energy Alliance (VCREA), a JPA housed in the Sustainability Division, she enjoys working with special districts, school districts, cities, businesses, non-profits, and community members as well as with regional partners from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz Counties.
Heather graduated with a Master of Environmental Science and Management Degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara Bren School and has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs and Planning from Virginia Tech.
Rachel Couch, Coastal Project Development Specialist, Coastal Conservancy, CA Natural Resources Agency
Rachel Couch works in the State Coastal Conservancy’s Central Coast Program as a Conservancy Project Development Specialist (aka Project Manager). She works on coastal preservation, restoration and access projects, climate change adaptation and resilience, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, and community capacity-building. She has worked for the Conservancy for 15 years and is based in Santa Barbara. She served as Chair of the Central Coast Climate Collaborative in 2020-2021, helping to build the organization’s leadership capacity and leading a JEDI-centered Strategic Vision and Bylaws update. Previously, Rachel worked for eight years (two terms) as an aide to Santa Barbara County Supervisor Susan Rose, focusing on environmental and social policy issues. She graduated from UCSB a very long time ago with a BA in Political Science and has worked to promote community and regional grassroots causes for over 30 years.