Skylar standing on a log in the forest

I’ve always had this nagging feeling. A little voice telling me that things should be better. 

In fact, I’ve spent most of my life looking for ways to better our community. In high school, I volunteered with a peer-to-peer harm reduction youth group who first showed me that making a difference is possible. It created a drive to want to learn more and make change. 

I looked for a way to make a greater impact, and so I enrolled in Social Justice and Peace Studies at King’s University College. We learned about global and local issues and the strategies used nationally and internationally to try to solve them. But the nagging feeling from high school continued to grow; how could I make change happen in my own community, now? I wanted to see improvement happen at a faster pace.

That led to choosing to work at ReForest London after graduation. I met people who were making a substantial, positive impact in London; an impact that could be measured and seen as the tree canopy in London increased. Seeing this progress made me feel energized, and so I started to volunteer with nonprofits like Growing Chefs and Food Not Lawns London, and sitting on committees like Urban Agriculture and Waste Management. I even founded a neighbourhood association with my partner to increase connection in our neighbourhood. Through these roles, I witnessed everyday people making an impact that affected London in positive ways. But I also saw how government policy could wipe out that change in an instant. And that drove me to learn more about policy and how I could make long-term, community-wide change.

So I built the London Environmental Network from the ground up - raising money from multiple levels of government to increase the annual budget to just under a million dollars; growing the staff from 1 full time employee (me) to 16 in 2022; working with businesses from different sectors to support investment in the green economy, and creating greater awareness of the costs of climate inaction in London. I learned how to leverage funding to invest in larger-scale projects, break down silos to foster collaboration, and grow advocacy efforts to make real policy change at City Hall.

Around the same time, I joined the Urban League of London and was welcomed into a place where I could interact with community members and fight to make London a better place to live, work and play. While I was volunteering, I got to know many strong community leaders, who inspired me with their dedication to local politics, and mentored me in how to engage with city hall and the community. And that nagging feeling from high school? It changed to optimism and excitement for what London can be.

I hope to meet you soon. 

– Skylar