Hi Rebecca! Where are you from?
I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, a quirky, mid-sized town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
What is your educational background, where are you from?
I became one of the first students from my high school to secure a scholarship for an exchange year in Germany. Thereafter, I received a scholarship to complete the last two years of high school at Li Po Chun United World College (LPC UWC) in Hong Kong, an international school with students representing ~70 nationalities and a mission to foster intercultural understanding for a sustainable future. By the time I graduated, I was fluent in German, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.
LPC UWC is where I started learning about the impacts of climate change on people and the environment globally, and this soon became the driving motivator behind my academic and professional pursuits. After graduating, I chose to pursue a B.A. in human ecology at College of the Atlantic in Maine – an experimental college dedicated to an ecological, interdisciplinary, and problem-solving approach to education – where I focused on renewable energy policy and sustainable business. Halfway through my undergraduate studies, I secured a research internship at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences in Beijing, followed by an internship with a clean tech consultancy in Shanghai. The latter internship evolved into an opportunity to co-found a start-up that simplified renewable energy procurement for international companies with operations in China.
After nearly 2 years in China, I returned to the College of the Atlantic to complete my undergraduate studies. I received a research scholarship to conduct a one-year capstone undergraduate project on models for transitions to 100% renewable energy in Germany, Denmark, and the United States.
How did your professional journey evolve after your undergraduate studies?
My professional journey continued to take unconventional turns. After completing my B.A. in human ecology, I worked with Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung in Washington, D.C., a German political think tank, where I supported international exchange on climate and energy and helped set-up an online dossier on “Energy Transitions Around the World.”
For the six years that followed – first in Boston, then Berlin, then Washington D.C., then pandemic-remote – I worked as a climate and energy consultant at Cadmus and its Germany-based subsidiary, ifok. I had the opportunity to work with clients on tackling the “gordian knot” of climate change from multiple facets. I worked with federal, state and city-level clients in the United States, Germany, and internationally, as well as with non-profits and corporate clients. In my work, I helped lead the development of policies, plans, strategies, and regulations, focusing on fostering a sustainable, resilient, and renewables based energy system.
What sparked your interest in law school?
Especially in the energy system, laws and rules matter. Legal and regulatory frameworks shape the opportunities and barriers for renewable energy in so many regards: Is there a cap on renewable energy in your jurisdiction? How is the value of renewable energy compensated? Who is allowed to install and/or own renewable energy and who is not? What is optional v. mandatory in acting to address climate change? As a consultant, I contributed to and learned the value of developing climate and energy plans, policies and strategies, but I also recognized their shortcomings. Lofty plans and targets run the risk of remaining ink on paper if they are not backed by legislative and regulatory change.
What motivated you to join WCL?
WCL had the ideal combination of my two major law school interests: climate and energy law and international comparative law. WCL has a strong reputation for its top-ranked international and comparative law program, and the environmental and energy law program was described to me as “small but mighty.” Both have exceeded expectations thus far; there is a strong cohort of faculty here working on climate and energy-related issues from diverse perspectives – ranging from climate change law to accountability mechanisms in international finance.
What do you find most interesting bout international law? Why do you think working in environmental and energy law makes it necessary to think globally? What has international law to do in all this?
I am particularly interested in the role of international comparative law. Jurisdictions around the world are adapting their policies, laws, and regulations to unprecedented challenges: addressing climate change and deploying renewable energy. There is no one jurisdiction that has solved these challenges; I see immense benefit in sharing lessons learned on approaches that will help expedite greenhouse gas emissions reductions and a transition to a renewables-based energy system.
Are you involved, or planning to get involved, with any extracurricular activities at AUWCL or beyond?
I have joined and plan to stay active in several groups of women working on energy and climate. This includes the Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), the Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment (WCEE), and the Women in Environmental Law & Leadership (WELL). The energy sector remains relatively male-dominated. It is helpful to join such groups that spotlight the leadership role of women in this space and offer support to women growing into leadership positions.
What do you like to do for fun?
I am an avid runner, preferably on trails. Next summer, I plan to run the Tromsø Skyrace (a trail race above the Arctic Circle in Norway) a second time. I also love salsa and swing dancing. My dancing went dormant during the pandemic, but I hope to pick it back up. Fortunately, D.C. has quite the scene for swing and salsa.
Favorite places in Washington, D.C.?
Rock Creek Park. The Potomac riverside path from Georgetown Waterfront Park to Abner Cloud House. Dupont Farmer’s Market.
Any advice for the new students that are joining us this term that you could give us already?
The law touches on nearly every facet of life. I’m noticing some students get overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities. My advice to a new student would be: pick an issue that is meaningful to you, start getting involved, and be bold in your pursuits. Doors will open when you take the initiative.