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Andrea Fox: Young Professional of the Month

December 2009 YP Connections

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox,  29

Legislative Aide, State Senator Heath Mellow

Growing up in West Omaha in the 1980s, my family was probably the only family in the neighborhood with compost piles in the backyard and more recycling bins than trash cans.  I was that kid with the waxed paper bags and all natural fruit roll-ups in my lunch box.  Vacations generally involved camping, and it was usually someplace where you’re really connected with nature, like camping at the Niobrara River or Yosemite National Park.  Being a good steward of the earth was engrained in me from a very young age, and I blame my parents 100 percent.

After graduating high school, I went to college at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado for my Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs and Spanish, and Master of Public Policy degree.  While in Colorado, I was surrounded by other like-minded individuals and also learned about the environment through the lens of public policy, using evidenced based decision making. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

When I moved back to Omaha in 2005, I began working for Mayor Fahey as an Assistant to the Mayor.  Mayor Fahey signed the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement in 2006, and shortly afterward, I asked if I could be the person in the office responsible for seeing the agreement through.  As I began to meet with City of Omaha staff and local community members who were passionate about sustainability, I eventually connected with Nicolette Amundson, who invited me to attend a meeting with other community members who worked for organizations interested in sustainability.

This meeting led to the eventual formation of the Green Omaha Coalition (GOC), where I served as a board member, Public Agency Council Secretary, and member of the Finance committee during my term from 2007-2009.  I am very proud to be a founding member and past board member of the GOC, and am impressed at what the GOC has accomplished in a short amount of time. 

Through the process of forming the GOC, I learned a lot about what it takes to start a new organization, from writing by-laws and applying for 501(c)3 status to getting the right people at the table.  I was also able to learn what other local organizations were doing on the sustainability front.  This in turn helped with my work at the City, and through connections made on the GOC board, the City was able to partner on some really great programs, like the Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) recycling program, and a pilot program testing Light Emitting Diode (LED) street lights.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to serve on the GOC board through my role in Mayor Fahey’s Office, and I’m very excited to be able to use my background with environmental issues as I begin my new role as the Legislative Aid to Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello.
It’s an over-used quote, and probably a little cliché, but there’s a saying that goes “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  I’ve thought of this quote often working in public service, and am hopeful that with time, I’ll again be able to be part of a small group of people working to change the world.

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