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Amy Chan, Class of 2006
Posted on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011
Amy Chan (Class of 2006) is a prime example of an alumnus whose career is now directly involved with making the world a more sustainable place. Amy grew up in Portland, Oregon, where "going green" was second nature. She first became interested in nature and all things green at the young age of four. As far back as she can recall, Amy remembers her first moment when she realized that she cared about the environment was when her parents took her to visit the Bonneville Dam in Oregon. There she witnessed salmon migrating upstream through man-made fish ladders. Instantly, she became intrigued with "how human behavior can help or hurt the world." Throughout her adolescence Amy continued to be interested in environmental issues and she knew she wanted to go to a college that embraced the same values.
While at Santa Clara University, Amy became involved with various student clubs, coursework, and programs on campus related to sustainability, social justice, and service learning. One of Amy’s favorite classes that also happened to be an Environmental Studies course was Drawing from Nature, where her class took a field trip to Costa Rica to see first hand the intrinsic value of our natural environment while learning to cultivate right-brain drawing skills. Coursework like this reinforced Amy’s positive spirit to join organizations like the Multicultural Center and immersion trips through Campus Ministry. Junior year, Amy served as Student Body Vice President and continued to try to engage her classmates on important issues that span outside of campus.
A couple years after graduation, Amy pursued and completed a Masters in Public Administration from Syracuse University in upstate New York and was offered an opportunity to work with the City of San José. Amy had traveled full circle again, over to the East Coast and back, just to return to the Bay Area again. California has become her second home to Oregon.
Amy’s first position with the City, a prestigious local government fellowship, turned into an ongoing offer to work as an Executive Analyst with the Office of the City Manager. Amy is the lead coordinator of the San José Green Vision.
The Green Vision is San José’s main policy platform for sustainability programs and includes 10 goals to be accomplished by the year 2022. On a day-to-day basis, she meets with an interdepartmental team to develop short-term and long-term work plans, provides reports to City Council and updates to the Green Vision website, and helps to prepare grant applications to continue innovative program pilots. Overall the Green Vision helps to bolster San José’s economy, show environmental leadership, and improve the quality of life in the community.
Amy's favorite aspect of her work is getting to help improve the community. She says she loves to "meet with the public to hear what they really want and what I can do to help empower them to improve our community." Recently the City of San José was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Siemens Corporation for the Green Vision strategy and received an award of $20,000 to plant 80 trees. Amy helped complete the award application and plan the tree-planting event that took place on October 22, 2011. Nearly 100 volunteers, including Santa Clara students from the Interfaith Council, helped plant trees at Lake Cunningham Park. Amy was "excited to see the true spirit of volunteerism and help make a community park greener." Of course, there are always aspects to her job that make it more challenging. For Amy, this would be "doing more with less", a challenge that we all face right now. Amy just reminds herself each day where she comes from, what is really important to her community, and why she can’t give up. Even if it is just a little step or an indirect piece of our job, we can all help reduce our ecological footprints on the world.
By Christiane Sanicola, '13, Sustainability Intern, and Amy Chan, '06.