“A true leader cannot get a project completed by herself, and the importance of teamwork becomes paramount.”
Firestone has spent most of her career working for city governments. “I’m a firm believer that policymaking is a necessary driver to get things done,” she says, noting that policy drives how people view and act on sustainability initiatives.
“As someone who has a tendency to desire immediate action, I have learned the importance of delayed gratification,” she says. “Critical—and multifaceted—goals cannot be achieved at once. Regarding policymaking, it can take time to conceptualize and develop a regulation, have it adopted into law and roll out implementation, all before you start to see its impact.”
“A true leader cannot get a project completed by herself, and the importance of teamwork becomes paramount.” She says leaders should build teams of partners: “Not just an internal team, but a multidimensional one. For instance, ensuring the private sector is working with non-profits, and both are working in coordination with government, allows for meaningful collaboration, and thus real change.”
Firestone is inspired by a variety of leaders. “One of my mentors, Laurie Kerr [Director of Policy, Urban Green Council], taught me that if you can back bold ideas with data, sound reasoning, and technical justification, it becomes difficult for skeptics to look the other way. The sustainability movement has seen a surge of leadership in recent months; Pope Francis, President Obama, and Chinese President Xi Jinping are taking serious actions in the fight against climate change.”
Firestone moved from New York to Los Angeles and had to start networking anew. She went on “blind dates, the professional type,” and discovered leaders who were very welcoming. They include Marcie Edwards, the first female GM of LA Water and Power. “She is smart and strategic, and simply excels at getting the job done in a department that is notoriously complex. I find that continually motivating.”