Fresh Perspectives from Women in Green

The Women in Green panel, courtesy of USGBC.

On Thursday, April 4, USGBC Colorado held an inspiring Women in Green panel discussion with the theme: Fresh Perspectives. The event was held at The Alliance Center, located at 1536 Wynkoop St. in downtown Denver, which was recently recertified, LEED v4.1 Gold and won a USGBC Colorado Leadership Award.

A fresh perspective involves reimagining familiar situations with a renewed approach. It’s an infusion of new ideas, innovations, and technologies. In 2024, Women in Green’s Fresh Perspectives delves into how we would address the challenges female professionals face if they were encountering them for the first time. Angie Fyfe, panel moderator and executive director of ICLEI USA, asked the women five questions centered around their own experience in the workforce and their words of wisdom for the next generation of leaders.



Q: What is a challenge that you have faced as a female professional and how would you face this challenge differently if you were encountering it for the very first time?

A: Erin James: I think there’s still a bias out there toward junior employees and now my role has kind of exceeded what others might still think of me. But something I always remind myself of is that we are all here because we earned it and we all have a voice and deserve a seat at the table. My mentors have helped put me in the right position to share my strengths, my skills, and my story so that others can see me in an elevated way. I think I would tell my younger self to not be scared and just show people what you’re made of!

Q: How do you get out of your head and get beyond short-term thinking? What sort of strategies do you have to focus on thinking about the future instead of what’s right in front of you?

A: Mina McCollum: I think it’s important to be strategic on what your goals and objectives are and have a clear trajectory to get you there. We all need the support of our sponsors and mentors. People tend to invest in the people that they believe in so it’s important to provide that value so that people invest in you. Also, women are part of the problem. We need to support each other. As 50% of the population, we have a voice. We need to make sure that we are being present and mindful and for me, that’s going on a spa day or meditation. Whatever puts me in that positive place so that I can influence people to help support those goals and visions.

Q: Talk a little about your leadership role and how you have helped your team to grow. What is a strategy that you have used to help your team gain a fresh perspective?

A: Amy Jiron: We have enough struggles in everyday life that we don’t have to bring struggles to the people around us. We can bring positivity and uplift the people around us. It’s important to support people and meet them where they are so they can be successful, instead of trying to push them into something where they really aren’t.

Q: We know that our culture has embraced a more fluid gender identity. As a woman who has navigated gender bias in the workplace, what do you think we can bring to people who identify as neither male nor female but have a different gender identity?

A: Christie-Anne Edie: I don’t want to provide details about an experience that I don’t have. What I can speak to is how it has felt to be a female in this environment and how there has been a shift post-pandemic for the better. In the federal government, we moved to a more remote environment. Our work shifted to an online work platform and we were no longer face-to-face, which was hard in some regards but in others it helped us because it no longer mattered what you were wearing, what you looked like, or even what you sounded like. The work you produced is what mattered. So many things became equal when they weren’t equal up until that point. i think if we focus on the positives and how we have evolved since the pandemic, we can use this remote environment to our advantage.

I’m also a huge advocate for how our words and our thoughts become our reality. I have moved from an “I don’t know how I can do that” person to an “I can do it and I am doing it” person — and I am helping to mentor other women in my orgnization to help them navigate the interview process and help them figure out what they bring to the table and really help build that confidence amongst women.

Q: When was there a time that you pivoted and why did you decide to pivot? What was your strategy, what worked and what didn’t?

A: Jeannie Renne-Malone: I have been in sustainability my entire career and I have tackled many different sectors and so there have been a number of pivots along the way. When I find an opportunity to pivot, some of the skills that you really need to lean in on are passion, diplomacy and influence. The apparel industry is known for creating a lot of waste but I work for a company (VF) that really cares. We produce about 300 million units a year and we depend on the land to source the materials that we use. And so across our brands, we decided to lean into regenerate agriculture as a way to make a difference as a nature-based solution to reducing our carbon emissions. It has been a fun pivot!

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