Now D.C. is Their Laboratory – Environmental research leads alumnae to roles with a grassroots organization advocating for prudent climate policy. Environmental research leads alumnae to roles with a grassroots organization advocating for prudent climate policy.

Combating climate change takes hundreds of decisions by millions of people to change small daily habits as well as big governmental policies. Chapman University alumnae Taylor Krause ’16 and Sara Wanous ’17 are part of those efforts in their work with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a grassroots organization that puts the emphasis on citizens.

Krause connected with the advocacy group after approaching her senior year uncertain about career plans with her chemistry degree. Her academic advisor, Jason Keller, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences, suggested she sit in on his Environmental Science and Policy seminar to hear a series of outside speakers. One of them was Daniel Richter, Ph.D., legislative director for Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Krause applied for an internship.

Shortly after starting as an intern in 2016, she was hired full-time as an assistant to the organization’s executive director, Mark Reynolds, managing a wide array of duties at the nonprofit’s headquarters near San Diego.

This fall, she’ll be moving to Washington, D.C., after earning another promotion to Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s five-member governmental affairs division. It’s an exciting move for Krause, yet important work is also done away from Washington.

Taylor Krause ’16

Much of the lobbying is done by volunteers spreading the word in their communities and contacting legislators to seek support for climate solutions. In June, more than 1,000 such volunteers gathered to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill.

“We have 40 staff and 90,000 supporters,” Krause said.

Chapman’s connections with Citizens’ Climate Lobby have only grown. The fall after graduating, Krause returned to the seminar where she first learned about the organization, this time as a presenter, and helped start an ongoing tradition of Chapman students visiting Washington twice a year for national Citizens’ Climate Lobby conferences. On those trips, students have lobbied their own representatives, among them former Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez ’82, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997–2017 and recently donated her congressional papers to the Leatherby Libraries.

“It’s kind of a lot to organize to get a group across the country,” Krause said. “Sara took that on, and that made my job very easy.”

The Washington trips ultimately led to the job Wanous holds as the nonprofit’s membership coordinator.

“I was really so in love with Citizens’ Climate Lobby from my first experience in November of 2016, when five of us went,” said Wanous, a double major with degrees in economics and environmental science and policy.

Krause was able to get Wanous onboard, telling her supervisors she knew “this really wonderful applicant” for temporary work during the nonprofit’s busy holiday season. The temporary role turned out not to be temporary: Wanous was hired full-time and now coordinates the tens of thousands of new supporters who join Citizens’ Climate Lobby each year.

Keller, head of Chapman’s life and environmental sciences faculty as well the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory, praises Krause and Wanous for their work, and for the way they have “exemplified the ‘Think Chapman First’ mindset.”

The opportunities continue to expand. During the recent Citizens’ Climate Lobby regional conference at Cal State Los Angeles, students Emily Hanna ’18 and Jessica Rush ’18 were honored for their research posters. Both work in the wetlands lab with Keller.

The poster competition was Rush’s first interaction with Citizens’ Climate Lobby, but it sparked a recognition for her.

“You know why your research is important, but scientists have to leave the lab sometimes,” she said. “It takes research and advocacy to see change.”

Display image at top/Citizens’ Climate Lobby staffer Sara Wanous ’17, center, poses with Chapman students, clockwise from left, Kelvin Hoppel ’18, Matthew Sahli ’18, Haley Miller ’18, Rebecca Felix ’18, and Courtney Bonilla ’18, before a November 2017 conference in Washington.

This story appeared in the spring 2018 issue of Chapman Magazine.

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