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Melanie Hoffman, Lead Mentor

Saturday Spotlight Series

· Spotlight Series

Born and raised in Germany to British parents; grew up around horses and language and dance and local culture and community; love to explore and ventured to Canada for study abroad during Chemistry & Materials Science undergrad; fell in love with Canadian Prairie winter; moved to Edmonton for Ph.D. in Chemistry; disliked research, loved teaching - inspired by Dr. Peter Mahaffy, bringing more context into introductory chemistry; met my now-husband, took up science faculty position at Quest University Canada in Squamish, BC; taught some tangential bits of climate science through chemistry thanks to Peter Mahaffy's Human Activity Chemical Reactivity textbook; learned a ton teaching What is Knowledge with colleagues from the humanities and social sciences (biases, pseudoscience, morals and ethics, culture and science); began journey of reconciliation; got into trail running; returned to Edmonton after 3 years; covered faculty mat leave for chemistry prof at King's University, took my own mat leave; extended as daughter had complex airway surgeries at 4 months and 2 years and had extended hospitalizations; wrote grants with King's Centre for Visualization in Science for climate education - now working as science communication specialist and program manager / consultant (https://climatesolutions.kcvs.ca; https://yegccs.kcvs.ca), founded Drawdown Alberta - currently launching with Sarah Prescott and Natalie Odd through the Alberta Environmental Network as movement to bring Alberta's emissions to net negative ASAP.

Why did you join the climate movement/what pushed you to become interested in climate change issues?

As a chemist, the fairly simple connections between human activity (extraction), resulting changes in the overall small amounts of heat trapping gases in our atmosphere, and their effects on the goldilocks state of our global systems had always made sense, but I didn't comprehend how far outside of the safe operating space we are and continue to keep marching until it became my day job to read climate science. The urgency is clear - and then I learned we actually have a comprehensive understanding of currently available solutions, too. That turned my interest from a day job into a life mission.

What is one achievement you are proud of?

I'm proud of the many connections I am able to amplify and establish. I am proud of the City of Edmonton switching their language from being a climate change leader to being a climate solutions leader. I am proud of getting Drawdown Alberta off the ground, connecting with some real changemakers to bring this movement to fruition.

What was your most iconic/memorable Act of Leadership?

Giving The Talk at a Green Drinks event in Edmonton in September 2019. Participating in the International Climate Action Challenge to launch Drawdown Alberta

What are some climate change initiatives you are currently taking part in?

Drawdown Alberta (community workshops / conversations), Climate Change Education Canada, the City of Edmonton's 1.5 Update to its Community Energy Transition Strategy

What do you think is the most effective way for people to take climate action?

Build relationships with your political representatives, let your financial institutions know you care and are watching what they are doing. Talk about climate solutions. Follow Katharine Hayhoe, Mary DeMocker, Joan Gregerson for more support. Understand what matters, and what just makes us feel good, and choose at least one of each.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I love to dance - at the club, where I have been mistaken as drunk when I was stone sober, and in the Lindy Hop swing dance scene; as a teenager, the only way I would go for a run was to exercise my Shetland ponies.

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