News & Updates
January 6, 2020
Getting to Know You: Jennifer West
This month we are getting to know Jennifer West, Program Manager, Energy Efficiency, Water Savings and Landscape Partners, at StopWaste. Stopwaste is the name of the joint power authority of the Alameda County Waste Management Authority. It is a public agency formed in 1976 by a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement among the County of Alameda, each of the fourteen cities in the county, and two sanitary districts that provide refuse and recycling collection services. StopWaste partners with local governments in Alameda County to advance innovative solutions that increase recycling and reduce waste related to buildings and landscapes. Jennifer West is also a board member of ReScape California.
- How did you get interested/involved/engaged? When I was a teacher I got to take my class to the Davis Street Transfer Station in San Leandro. It’s where all of the garbage is handled. Oh, wow, if you haven’t been there you should get a tour! I was inspired. I then was on the City of Emeryville City Council and was Mayor; in that position I became a Board Member of Stopwaste. I was impressed by the regional collaboration that uses the power in cities working together to get things done that cities and state agencies can’t. And now I work here!
- What do you want to people to learn/do in your work with them? It’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Policy can get lost in the details. As a community we must hold a big picture vision of the environment that we want to create.
- Name one thing you have learned over the years. I’m not always right. I need to listen to others.
- A big failure that (you) turned into a positive. I didn’t get into public policy graduate school when I first applied. I thought I was the perfect candidate. I ran for city council instead, and won, 10 years before I had planned to. I got into grad school a year later, so I achieved both goals at the same time.
- What is most precious to you? My family, and then in the widening circle: the community, humanity, the planet. I cherish people’s experience to try to improve the quality of life everywhere. Human rights- living with dignity without oppression.
- What do you most value in your colleagues? Sharing ideas and expertise. I really thrive in collaborative work with others.
- Who is/are your hero(es)? My grandmother. As a young adult, before she had children, she signed up to teach in a Japanese internment camp. She spent one year teaching and one year after that trying to get the families out of the camp. She sacrificed a lot and I am grateful and proud. She was a world citizen and lived in Africa working towards social justice and peace.
- What is your greatest achievement? I don’t know if I have achieved anything yet! My two daughters.
- What is the thing for which you want to be remembered? Being a teacher- encouraging others to live up to their potential, to do their best. That 25 years ago I inspired them, and that I have gotten people to share their voice, to participate and affect change.
- One thing/activity you are actively doing to address climate change and why? I am doing a lot of a little things: I ride my bike, and take the bus when it rains. I insulated my walls; I am eating less meat. At work there are so many things. The current focus is on heat pump water heaters. The goal is to get them in all California homes; they run on electricity not gas and are 300% more energy efficient than conventional gas and electric resistance water heaters.
- What would you tell your younger self? Pace yourself! Have extreme urgency, yet move more deliberately. Spend more time in nature and with friends.
- The one thing you have not done/achieved/experienced and want to do before you die. I just read, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” by Richard Rothstein. It talks about how our policies have created systemic racism. We must address racial inequities in the African American community. I want to focus on it; I am still exploring what I want to do.