Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series featuresDeb Markowitz, director of the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I come to the position of director of the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts after a long career in public service. I was in my mid-30s, with three very young children when I was first elected Vermont’s Secretary of State. After serving for 12 years, I ran for Governor of Vermont, and although I lost the primary election by less than 500 votes, the person who won appointed me to serve as his environmental secretary. From this experience I learned a couple of things. First, if you stay grounded in mission and purpose, you can withstand the ups and downs of ones’ career. Second, nothing great is ever accomplished alone. Ask for help, cultivate trusted partners, and use your power and privilege to lift others.
Editor’s Note: Fern Shepard is the first participant in our new interview series: “Feminist Giving IRL” (in real life).
“Feminist Giving IRL” features leaders in philanthropy and the nonprofit realm who are outstanding advocates for gender equity. Our first featured leader, Fern Shepard, is President of Rachel’s Network, a non-profit organization named after Rachel Carson that empowers women funders in environmental protection.
What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I began my career 30 years ago as an environmental lawyer with Earthjustice, where I quickly learned the importance of strong laws in protecting vulnerable populations. Courts are where powerless people and voiceless wildlife and wildlands can be protected from harm. Yet our environmental problems have only grown in complexity and severity since I started.