Susan Casey-Lefkowitz is the director of the International Program at the National Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. She can be reached through www.nrdc.org
What do you actually do in your job? Directing the international program of the Natural Resources Defense Council means coordinating our work in Latin America, Canada, India and globally on promoting clean energy, fighting dirty energy and saving special wildlands and wildlife. I am a woman of all work when it comes to campaigning.
What is the hardest thing about your job? Our dependence on oil runs deep – breaking that dependence means going up against one of the best funded industries in the world.
What do you most enjoy about it? I love working with partners in other countries and learning to see the world through their eyes.
Where were you born and raised? Washington, DC, with a detour for high school in the Netherlands.
What did you study? I came back to the US for college and law school, studying Latin American studies and then international environmental law at the University of Virginia while gardening part time up at Monticello.
What was your first job and what path led you to your work today? I started out working on wildlife and ecosystem conservation in developing countries – while based in Germany at the environmental law center of IUCN – the World Conservation Union. Since then I’ve worked on both conservation and energy/climate issues around the world, most lately focusing on Canadian-US tar sands oil trade.
What is the best advice you received in the course of your career? Take care of yourself so you don’t burn out. After twenty years and counting, I realize the truth of this every day.
Looking back, what are you most proud of? That I was able to help the Poplar River First Nation on the east side of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba achieve protection of their traditional territory in the beautiful Boreal forest.
When and how do you start your day? Early – with oatmeal and then an hour walk to work along the C&O canal and by the White House.
Blogs or websites you find interesting or useful: NRDC (www.nrdc.org) , OnEarth Magazine (www.onearth.org), Dirty Oil Sands Network (www.dirtyoilsands.org), Pembina Institute (www.pembina.org), Environmental Defence Canada (www.environmentaldefence.ca), the Daily Show (www.thedailyshow.com)
Where are you most likely to be found when you’re not working? Urban hiking all over DC with my husband (I’m the one with the trekking poles).
If you had an alternative career, what would it be? Gardener (it was a close call when I was deciding whether to go to law school)
Favorite sports team? Nats (you have to love your hometown team)
Who is your hero or heroine? My daughter Irene. She is in college now and amazes me every day with her ability to combine determination and hard work with a sense of fun and kindness.
Drink of choice? Virgin mojito – really anything with lime and mint.
Hobbies? Long distance walking, gardening, and writing novels that I fear will never be finished or published.
What is one worthwhile book you read in the past year? For relaxation, I loved the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. For learning, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
What is one thing you’d like to learn more about? Birds. I am a beginning birder and I am slowly learning their songs and identification.
What is your favorite place in Canada and your favorite place in the US? In Canada, my favorite place is Weaver Lake up in Poplar River First Nation’s traditional territory on the east side of Lake Winnipeg – a magical and peaceful place of healing. In the US, it is Cape Henlopen park on the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware where I have spent happy days camping with my family.
What is one thing you’d like to tell Canadians about the U.S., and/or one thing you’d tell Americans about Canada? Americans need to open their eyes and get to know Canada better. It is a beautiful and interesting country and sometimes I feel as though it is on the other side of a one way window.
Also Get to Know… Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Connect2Canada, Perrin Beatty, David Biette, John Parisella, Sheldon Alberts, Danielle Droitsch, Lee-Anne Goodman, David Wilkins, Christy Cox,Chris Sands, Birgit Matthiesen, Scotty Greenwood, Luiza Ch. Savage
On Twitter at luizachsavage