I learned the power of observing nature and loving the mystery of it from my grandpa. I spent a lot of time gardening with him, just spending hours in his greenhouse.
I left England fairly young and spent about two years traveling before I went to college in Australia. It was really on that journey—being outside every day amongst different cultures, in amazing places from an ecological standpoint—that I grew my passion for sustainability.
The Sydney Opera House has always stopped me in my tracks. That building is really an exploration of who we are as people in this world. I was very influenced by Australian vernacular architecture and entered architecture school intentionally looking for ways to reawaken this deep relationship between people and nature.
The biggest misconception about the Living Building Challenge? People think it’s impossible. They say the standard’s too high. But we’ve seen people do it on a standard budget and on a fast-tracked schedule and within design-build contracts. We’ve seen people do remarkable things to create living buildings.
I think the nonprofit sector has the ability to make more change than the public or private sectors, at least currently. We have the ability to stop, take the focused time to look at barriers, and then unravel them a little bit. You don’t have that time in the middle of a contract designing a building.
I’m someone who likes to lead from a place of expertise and ethics, not just bravado and hot air. As I’ve come to have more expertise in this field and realized that I have something to share with others, I’ve really developed a passion for leadership.
I delegate a lot to my team. With adding the Living Community and Living Product Challenge programs, we’re looking at the remaking of everything—products, buildings, communities, cities. The staff is poised really well to take the Living Building Challenge to the next place and address that scaling elegantly.
I believe in living a sustainable life that balances family and my passion for my work. We need to shape the world with a vision for what we want it to be and make it happen. If you do that, you can grow in your career and your home life, in parallel.
Read up on the rest of our 10 Most Powerful Women in Sustainability here.