Insights & reflections from our summer intern, Juliáe Riva!

Juliae Riva Profile PhotoThis summer, I was thrilled to be hosted by Oregon Environmental Council through the Emerging Leaders Internship program. I was especially excited because I’d be using my time in the internship to conduct research to help OEC assess its own efforts to support other young or new professionals through its Emerging Leaders Board (ELB). My work included external research, in-depth interviews with staff and former ELB members, and a survey with former ELB members. The culmination of this project resulted in a detailed report, which includes all the data, analysis, and a set of recommendations with regard to reinstating the ELB. 

First and foremost, the ELB should exist for the purpose of empowering and engaging the next generation of environmental leaders and should do this by listening to them, involving them, and working with them in a two-way relationship. Through that relationship, ELB members will give OEC the perspective, knowledge, creativity, and drive of younger generations and new professionals. In return, ELB members will gain leadership experience and expanded professional networks. While more specific details are covered in the report, the ELB must have a strong foundation and a clear purpose that is commonly agreed upon and understood by OEC staff and the board. A staff liaison to the ELB is also critical for success, and they should create the structure and requirements the ELB will have. While ELB cohorts should be able to have some options about what they want to focus on, the staff liaison will provide a scope and some options for predetermined routes the ELB can take. Finally, the ELB should have a clear budget, sufficient to show OEC’s commitment and support to the ELB and its endeavors. 

One thing that stood out in my research was that former participants in the ELB built strong, lasting relationships. In the short time I spent with OEC this summer, I gained valuable experience and strong professional networks, and I am excited to see OEC bring back this program to empower even more young professionals. 

As my internship comes to an end, and I begin my next chapter with Business for a Better Portland, I’d like to offer a special thanks to everyone who was a part of the research process, the staff at OEC, and the Emerging Leaders Internship program.

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