We had the good fortune of connecting with Salome Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Salome, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
During the first part of my career, all I wanted to do was work.
I loved staying busy and thought I needed to dedicate over 60 or 80 hours a week in order to help my community or make the biggest difference I could on a campaign.
I see this a lot in young professionals starting out their careers, especially in the environmental non-profit space. People work for nonprofits because they want to help their community, despite salaries and compensations being extremely low. There is so much need, at all times, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and think you need to spend every waking hour working. Now after eight years in my professional career I understand that the most important resource this world has is motivated and inspired people willing to invest time in our community, and how burn-out is one of the field’s biggest obstacles. Although I know I want to dedicate my career to the environmental movement, I also realize I can have a well-rounded and full life while I do it.
Two years ago I decided to go back to school to get my JD, I began to pour more time into my family and friends. And I saw that when I invest in myself, I also invest in the movement and my work by giving myself more capacity. Happy, healthy, well-rounded people are more effective, more creative, and have a larger capacity to do great long-lasting work. So for me, my priorities have drastically changed in the past eight years. The most important thing to me is to have the flexibility and time to enjoy the life i’m creating for myself, and that will also help me bring the best version of myself to work every day.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work is around climate change and energy policy. That can look like a lot of different things. Sometimes it means running local advocacy campaigns to pressure elected officials to support clean energy. Other times it means meeting with elected officials about legislation, helping write legislation, writing analysis about legislation to share with the public, or even just organizing press conferences about legislation and why people should support or oppose it. I love my work and I love working with others who do this important work as well. Most importantly, Focus on how to bridge the political gap to get work done. The environment should not be a left-leaning or right-leaning issue. By working with both republican and democratic members of the state legislature, Florida has an opportunity to be a leader in clean energy. I’ve had the privilege of working on environmental advocacy through both political parties at various times in my life and know there are spaces to find compromise and move the work forward. Climate change is an issue that is already impacting thousands of lives. Florida residents are already experiencing sea level rise and extreme heat and all the challenges that come with rising temperatures, my job is to get elected officials, everywhere on the political spectrum, to agree on a course of action and take steps to a more resilient Florida.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Brunch at kiki on the river, La Florida, or Greenstreet Cafe. Definitely rent a yacht with Miami yachting company and spend a day on a boat relaxing on the water. Spend a day at Everglades National Park and take a boat tour. Spend a day on a bicycle going on Shark Valley Trail in the everglades but make sure you bring a lot of water because that is not an easy trek. For lunch, take a basket and have a picnic on the beach by South Point Park. Catch afrobeta live in concert, they play all over Miami in different venues. Afrobeta is the best local band and often do free shows at the Yard or in small venues around town.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The CLEO Institute deserves so much recognition for my professional development. When I began to work with CLEO in 2018, a nonprofit dedicated to climate change education and advocacy, I was a policy consultant working on short-term campaigns throughout South Florida. At first, they began as another short-term project focusing on climate justice for Hialeah residents, but it slowly began into a series of really great projects. The organization took a chance on me and hired me full time, gave me an opportunity to open up my own office in North Florida, provided me a yearly operating budget for the new office, allowed me to hire my own team and the freedom to scout and select projects that I was passionate about. The trust, freedom, and resources CLEO provided me were like nothing I had experienced before. It was because of that opportunity that I grew into the professional I am today. The organization, including not only its leadership but the friends I’ve made in different departments, also supported me to go back to Law School and continue to encourage me in different ways.