Kate Letizia is Nelson’s new climate change co-ordinator, now in her second week of work at city hall.
She had a lot of competition for the job.
“We had about 120 resumes,” said the city’s development services director, Pam Mierau, “and the quality of those resumes was amazing – people who have done this before, people who have masters degrees, PhDs in doing this kind of work, from all over the world.”
Letizia told the Star that many people around the world are studying climate change planning, but it’s very competitive because there are not many jobs for them yet.
“Planning for climate change, implementing actions and programs, is an emerging field,” she said.
The position is funded by a $125,000 two-year grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which will provide 80 per cent of her salary plus operational expenses for the position over two years. The remaining 20 per cent ($31,250) will be paid by the city.
Letizia’s job will have two components: finding ways for the city to adapt to the effects of climate change, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the city.
Her first task is to build a plan to do these things. The second is to implement the plan.
She said she will begin by talking to people and groups in the community. Mierau said Letizia’s experience and success in community consultations is one of the reasons she was hired.
Letizia has an undergraduate degree in international relations from the University of Calgary and a master’s degree in international development and natural resource management from Lund University in Sweden.
She has over 10 years of experience working in various environment-related positions, mostly in Alberta.
In Calgary she worked on the city’s waste and recycling team as a waste reduction strategist co-developing a management plan for industrial, commercial and institutional waste, as well as a food waste reduction study.
Letizia is the chair of the Regeneration Society, a non-profit organization focused on climate change leadership training for non-environmental professionals, and she is the co-founder of the Calgary Climate Hub and Calgary Can.
She also co-authored Banff’s environmental master plan for the consulting firm Intelligent Futures.
Public consultation will be the underpinning of everything she does. She describes herself as a very social person who enjoys connecting with community members.
“In any plans I have been involved in where community engagement was lacking or it was lip service, they gather dust quickly and I am not interested in working that way. It does not work, it isn’t fun, and it is not just. We need to connect all community members with this work because climate change is going to affect all community members.”
She said she has already sensed that there are high expectations in the community, and within city council, for her position.
“There is very obviously a deeply ingrained environmental stewardship ethic here. People know what they are doing, they know what they want, they know what needs to happen for Nelson and the planet.”