Meet sustainability alumna Taylor Reimann

Inspired by her love for nature but dismayed by its degradation, Taylor Reimann was determined to pursue sustainability from an early age.

“Growing up, my family continued to frequent our favorite Arizona gems, but over time things began to look different,” Reimann said. “These things were hard for me to see, and as I got older I realized that it wasn’t just my home that was suffering, this was happening in a lot of people’s  backyards. When it came time to decide on a career path, there was nothing I felt stronger about than sustainability.”

Reimann decided to combine her passion for sustainability with her knowledge of localized governance. She graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in sustainability (policy and governance track) from the School of Sustainability and a Master of Public Administration from the School of Public Affairs. Currently, she is the assistant to the city council in Boulder, Colorado. In the following Q&A, learn more about Reimann and her work with the City of Boulder.

Question: Are there any particular classes or nuggets of information that have really stuck with you or inspired you?

Answer: In community college I took my first sustainable cities class with Dr. Nigel Forrest and I realized the true gravity of our situation. In this class I learned about the role that urban development plays in contributing to greenhouse gases, and how city planning can be a tool for improving quality of life and mitigating negative climate impacts. It became apparent to me that local governments were a great intervention point to further sustainable best practices and technology. What is more, as stewards of public resources it is the responsibility of government to protect those resources and use them well. This understanding inspired me to focus on climate action through a localized governance lens.

Q: Can you tell us about your current position working with the City Council of Boulder?

A: As assistant to the City Council for Boulder, CO I get to work closely with the city’s elected officials. For me it is very fulfilling to support leadership that makes climate action efforts a priority in everything, the way Boulder does. In addition to supporting day-to-day needs of council members, I also work with our chief policy advisor on advocacy efforts at the state level. This legislative session we are working to repeal a preemption on plastic regulations, pass a statewide ban on polystyrene, and develop an organics management plan for the state. I also work with Boulder’s engagement team to plan events and solicit feedback as we build a community-driven Climate Mobilization Action Plan.

Q: How has a sustainability degree help advance your career?

A: From a local government perspective, I see that “sustainability” is increasingly becoming part of essential municipal services. This looks different in each city, town, and county; new staff positions and service units with the word “sustainability” in the title are increasing. For example, many counties now have Sustainability Coordinator positions. It’s also becoming popular to add sustainability staff to departments like public works, or as a unit within the Mayor’s/City Manager’s Office. Moreover, sustainability is not always the key term, like in Boulder where we have created an entire department named Climate Initiatives with 21 full-time employees. Whatever you want to call it, this is not going away.

Q: What does sustainability mean to you?

A: On a more meta systems level, achieving sustainability means including all voices in the design process for climate solutions. It means redesigning our systems to serve everyone, particularly our most vulnerable populations first. It means an opportunity for us to do justice for the future as a way of repaying injustice of the past.