Lead With Love: Elena Marszalek on the Feminist Climate Movement

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Elena Marszalek, Managing Director of Del Mar Global Trust, a private foundation dedicated to the environment. 

Elena Marszalek
Elena Marszalek, courtesy of Elena Marszalek

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I started my career in philanthropy as the only employee of Del Mar Global Trust, a newly established family foundation focused on the natural environment. Although I had previous experience working in climate change, I had little experience in philanthropy. I felt both hopeful and overwhelmed. 

Joining Rachel’s Network, a community of women environmental philanthropists, broadened my knowledge of complex environmental issues, and significantly improved my ability to select and monitor grant recipients. Networking with other women with similar goals and interests helped my career in numerous other ways, for example sharing information about projects that as individuals we would not be aware of. Perhaps most importantly, I have access to other members with many years of experience who offer advice and mentorship. As in all professions, you learn through experience. 

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The Domino Effect of Women Leaders: Fern Shepard, Rachel’s Network

Fern Shepard (Image credit: Fern Shepard)

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.

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