MCE Changemaker: Kate Sears

MCE Changemaker: Kate Sears

The Changemaker blog series celebrates MCE’s 10-year anniversary by recognizing the extraordinary people who support us and further our mission.

Kate Sears has been a Marin County Supervisor since 2011 and is set to retire from her position at the end of the year. During her 9 1/2 years of public service, Supervisor Sears has created opportunities for countywide collaboration on environmental and equity issues. Kate led Marin County’s sea level rise adaptation initiative, BayWAVE, and launched DRAWDOWN: Marin, a community driven effort to reduce Marin’s greenhouse gas emissions. MCE is proud to honor Supervisor Sears as this month’s MCE Changemaker for her years of advancing climate solutions in Marin.

How did you become involved in public service?

I never intended to get into politics but when my predecessor Charles McGlashan passed away, suddenly I decided to try to step up for the rest of his term. I thought it would be a great way to honor my parents who were both very engaged in public service and strong environmentalists. I realized that it was a really great opportunity to push forward important issues. The work was truly rewarding and now here I am years later after running for reelection in 2012 and 2016.

What has been your proudest accomplishment during your time as Supervisor?

What I’m most proud of is having launched a lot of work on sea level rise and embedding climate change as one of the County’s key priorities. In 2013 I created a Southern Marin Sea Level Rise working group to get residents, businesspeople, and environmentalists to look at the impacts of sea level rise in our community. I’m also very proud of the equity work we’re pushing forward, through all that we do at the County. I feel good about leaving knowing that these priorities will continue to move forward.

Can you tell me a bit about BayWAVE?

BayWAVE was really important because it was the first time that the County, Cities and Towns all collaborated together to work on sea level rise. We created a vulnerability assessment for the bay side of Marin which was tremendously informative. In pushing BayWAVE forward, one of the major successes was just getting everyone involved. That teamwork is what you need for these kinds of issues.

What encouraged you to become an advocate for MCE?

Climate change impacts are a reality and have been for quite a while. We’re becoming more aware of that through the increasing fires and flooding issues. I want to look at adaptation and also mitigation. When I got into office I didn’t know much about MCE. As it turned out I got to be very interested in what MCE was doing and excited about its innovative role in the energy sector and positive impact on GHG reduction and environmental benefits. Working with MCE was a natural thing for me to pursue and has been a tremendous journey.

How do you see DRAWDOWN: Marin positively impacting the county?

It’s been a very interesting process because it’s a collective action grassroots initiative. We have collaborative groups of people focused on six topical areas: renewable energy, buildings and infrastructure, food and food waste, transportation, carbon sequestration, and climate resilient communities. These groups have offered 29 solutions, 6 of which have been formally approved by our executive steering committee. I’m very excited about it because I think these projects will have a big impact. Not only that, but it also has been a great exercise in listening to people from different backgrounds and creating collaboration across the county.

Why have you made environmental issues a priority?

I think if you’re paying attention you know that climate change is an issue. Marin loves to see ourselves at the forefront of environmental contributions, but I actually think we’re behind – we drive too much and pollute too much. There’s a lot of room for improvement. It’s been a great privilege to be able to use my ability to connect people and bring them together to influence these issues.

What do you hope to see the county accomplish in the next few years?

I believe that what matters most is what we do at the local level – we can’t sit around and wait for a national or international solution. That’s why being a Supervisor has been so meaningful to me. As a county we have some amazing people working on these issues who are poised to make a difference, but we also need real participation from our residents. We all individually need to look at ourselves and see what we can do to create change.

We would also like to take a moment to thank Supervisor Sears for her leadership as MCE’s Board Chair for the past nine years. Her dedication, passion, and leadership have become an unwavering part of the spirit of MCE. While we will miss her humor, grace, experience, and thoughtfulness as MCE’s Board Chair, we are so excited to support her in her next chapter. Supervisor Sears, MCE thanks you for your service!

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