Meet Julie Gagen, Weston’s New Sustainability Coordinator
Back in November 2022, which seems like both a million years ago and just yesterday, Weston welcomed our new Sustainability Coordinator, Julie Gagen, after our previous coordinator moved on to other pastures in Worcester, home to spicy sauce and mispronunciations. By the way, has everyone watched my favorite video with non-Massachusetts people trying to pronounce our town names? It kills me every single time. Take a few minutes. Trust me.
In any case, and reeling myself back from the brink of gargalhadas, my second favorite Portuguese word, the Owl sent over a request for a biography to Julie and here, in her words, is Julie:
Hi, all! My name is Julie and I’m the new Sustainability Coordinator here in Weston. I started back in November and it’s been great so far!
A little about me. I’m a mom of two ( a 4th grader and a Kindergartener). We have an active Australian cattle dog and surprised our kids with three kittens last month. Life at home is busy at times, but it’s always interesting!
Why yes, the Owl did ask for kitten and dog photos, because why wouldn’t I?
As Sustainability Coordinator, my job in town is to provide guidance, planning, and support to decision-makers to help improve energy efficiency, decrease our carbon footprint, and provide resources on climate change adaptation and how we can be best prepared for the future. I’m really lucky to work in the facilities department, and in the town hall, with the absolute best town staff I could ask for. Truly, Weston is led by some really smart, competent leaders. I am so glad to be here and to be working with and learning from them.
In terms of background, I have an odd collection of past professions that are somehow perfectly suited to what I do here. Get ready!
I went to school for Civil & Environmental Engineering and, while there, met my husband through the student group Engineers Without Borders. We were dating for about a month before packing up, learning some Swahili, and traveling to East Africa to develop drinking water supply for/with a rural community of 3,000 people. That experience really shaped my life and career and, believe it or not, I use a lot of the skills from that experience in my Sustainability work here in Weston.
After graduation, I was a consultant for several years and did a lot of municipal engineering work including stormwater/ wastewater design and municipal master planning. I loved what I did but consulting was, at the time, an unforgiving profession, so I followed my passion for digital design, marketing, and branding, and began independent consulting while my kids were young.
On the side, I taught yoga and mindfulness, eventually opened a studio, and built a really awesome community. When the pandemic hit, I really appreciated the break, and transitioned my work to focus on supporting kids and stressed-out teens. Last year, I taught an awesome mindfulness and resiliency curriculum in a local school system. It was a success, and well-loved throughout the community, but like all things with budgets and schools – even the best ideas can’t always be sustainably funded.
Here in Weston, my job is to help get our Weston Ahead Climate Action & Resilience Plan off the paper and into action while keeping in mind the three pillars of Sustainability: economy, environment, and social good.
Right now, that looks like spending most of my time gathering data here in town hall, getting up to speed on funding mechanisms and grant programs we might be eligible for, managing small-scale projects like installing EV charging stations and building energy efficiency upgrades, and launching composting and recycling in the schools. There are so many parts to each thing I do, so I spend a lot of time meeting different groups in town and finding ways to cross-connect and collaborate as much as I can.
I am so glad to be here!
If anyone is interested in joining the Weston Ahead newsletter, you can sign up here. The first newsletter is set to come out soon. You can also reach out to Julie at email@example.com with questions. You can also read about Julie in the SWAG (Sustainable Weston Action Group) Winter newsletter here. I totally stole a photo from that page.