Mindy Roberts recently joined the WEC team as our Puget Sound Program Director – and we want you to meet her! Hear a bit about what Mindy brings to the team and why she loves Puget Sound.
What is your favorite marine animal?
My favorite marine animal is actually a nudibranch! Most people love orcas or seals or whales but I remember very distinctively seeing one on my very first dive in the Puget Sound region and thinking, what in the world is that? They come in all shapes and colors, they live in all the world’s oceans, and I suspect they’re probably more resilient than they look.
Why did you first become interested in Puget Sound and marine science?
I’ve always been drawn to water.
I actually come from a very long line of engineers and it’s only natural that I want to figure out what’s going on with Puget Sound – how do we protect it and how do we restore it? I now have an opportunity to think from the water’s perspective.
I’m a science nerd – I will own that. Mostly because growing up I remember watching Carl Sagan on Cosmos and Jacques Cousteau scuba diving in the world’s oceans and I was drawn to that immediately. It still amazes me how little we know about this marine water in our backyard.
What’s something you want everyone to know about Puget Sound?
It’s diversity. Puget Sound is a fjord, so it has depths of water over 600 feet just off of Seattle, but then it’s got these shallow, warm water coves. It’s got wonders like six-gilled sharks, it’s got giant octopuses, it’s got a very thriving, innovative, industry-leading economies. We have local foods, we have a wide variety of communities, and the diversity itself is valuable for Puget Sound now and into the future.
What have you done before joining Washington Environmental Council?
Before I joined WEC, I was fortunate to work in places as far-afield as New England with a 300 year legacy of development as well as in Central and South America, which have very different environmental rules. I was able to see the impacts to not just ecosystems but also to the people in those areas. With that, I’m able to contrast that with what I see in Puget Sound today, and it’s a great reminder that while Puget Sound looks absolutely lovely, it still has issues that need to be dealt with.
Why is protecting Puget Sound an environmental justice issue?
Everyone deserves clean air and everyone deserves clean water.
I think we need to be particularly aware of disproportionate impacts of pollution on communities of color. Solutions for Puget Sound have to consider environmental justice. Our solutions need to consider everyone, not just in the actions as a result, but in the “we” part of figuring out what we need to do. In the past, we haven’t had that voice at the table enough. There’s a lot of social science research that shows having a more diverse group of people makes that group better at decision making. There’s benefit to all of us to have a diversity of voices in the room to figure out what the actions are.
In your mind, is Puget Sound healthy?
A really simple question, is Puget Sound healthy? doesn’t have a single, simple answer. It’s just as complicated as if someone asked you, are you healthy? And your answer is going to be very different depending on who’s asking the questions, why they are asking it, what part of health are they talking about. I hope this question is a conversation starter for people because I think there are multiple perspectives on Puget Sound health and getting people talking about it is really important.
What is your favorite view of Puget Sound?
It helps me put the whole world into perspective below me and it is truly spectacular on a clear day.
I’ve been very fortunate to see Puget Sound from above and below, from south Puget Sound up to Admiralty Inlet. But my very favorite view of Puget Sound is from the summit of Mt. Rainier. You earn that summit, you work hard with a team of people, but it’s a place where you can see the Sound unfold in front of you, surrounded by mountains and forest. You can see our cities and you can see our lakes and waters.
Why are you excited about getting to know WEC members?
I’m really excited to tackle this huge issue – how do we protect and restore Puget Sound. I’m also really interested in hearing other people’s stories about their corner of Puget Sound. Stories have a way of connecting people and sharing information in a way that taps something much deeper. We’ve always told stories as a people, and that’s important to connect people to place.
Have a question for Mindy or want to introduce yourself? Find more info on the our Staff contact page.