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Board Member Spotlight: Mary Ellen Kustin


When did you get involved in EcoWomen? Why?

A woman I respected greatly in my grad school program convinced me to make the trek into Washington, DC from College Park, MD to attend an EcoHour sometime back in 2008. (Fun fact: years later, I got to nudge that same lady into helping form an EcoWomen chapter in Colorado. Thanks for both, Dana!) I was still in school at the time, and I was anxious to start a career in environmental advocacy. My friend convinced me that it was never too soon to network with people doing the sorts of things I wanted to do when I graduated.

How were you involved in EcoWomen?

I quickly realized I wanted to be more involved than simply attending events. Around that time, EcoWomen was incorporating as a 501(c)3 and forming a national board and the DC chapter. My first position was as the treasurer for the recently created DC EcoWomen board. Over the years, I served in various capacities on the DC board ranging from a co-leader of the green economy eco-mmunity to vice president of programming. Later I joined the national board and had the honor of serving as EcoWomen’s president in 2016.

What’s your favorite EcoWomen memory?

It’s so hard to choose! I’ve made many lasting friendships and fabulous professional connections through EcoWomen. One DC EcoWomen board retreat in particular sticks out in my memory. We had many new women join the board that year, and it was the biggest board we’d had up to that point. The good folks at Hard Bargain Farm let us use their beautiful facility again for the low, low cost of removing invasive species from their goat paddocks for a few hours. The goats were so chill, and the work was a fun chance to get to know more of the women who were stepping up as leaders for our cause. The conversations around the campfire that evening and the goat snuggles were both delightful.

What are you up to now?

I’ve taken an intentional step away from my career for the time-being to be home full time with my young children before they start school. We couldn’t afford for me to do that in the DC area, so we moved to Western North Carolina to be closer to family. I’m enjoying putting down roots here, and I’m exploring ways to be more involved in my community now that there’s a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

What are you reading these days?

I recently finished, loved, and would highly recommend “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi. My kids’ copy of “Antiracist Baby” just inspired me to crack open Ibram X. Kendi’s grown-up version “How to Be an Antiracist.” And I’ve been scratching my sci-fi and fantasy itch with “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness.

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