In the past 25 years of DEVELOP, we have seen the deep impact the program can have not only on communities across the globe but also on DEVELOPers themselves as they build their capacity and grow into the leaders, educators, and ambassadors of tomorrow. As part of our anniversary activities, we are highlighting the many pathways alumni take on their career journey after DEVELOP. Here we spotlight alumni who are supporting local decision making working in state and local municipalities across the United States!
Amanda West Fordham
"The most valuable thing I took away from DEVELOP was enhancing my skills in leadership."
DEVELOP Time & Location: 2014-2015 at Colorado - Fort Collins (Participant, Center Lead)
Project Impact: One of Dr. West Fordham's first projects mapped and predicated infestations of invasive mesquite trees.
DEVELOP's Impact: The skills Dr. West Fordham learned from DEVELOP supported the research that she completed during my PhD in Ecology. But it didn’t end there. She also built her capacity as a leader, learning strategic leadership, program oversight, and coordination- all things that “certainly supported the path to my current position as an Associate Director.”
Where is she now?: Dr. West Fordham is the Associate Director of the Science and Data Division at the Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University. She is also a Research Affiliate with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at CSU and continues to work with DEVELOP as a project partner!
25th Anniversary Wishes: “Coordinating expertise to DEVELOP solutions to the challenges we face in the 21st century is a skill that can transcend geographic, jurisdictional, and perceived disciplinary boundaries.”
"My family back home in Mexico are so incredibly proud that one of their own worked with NASA."
DEVELOP Time & Location: 2013 Summer at NASA Ames (Participant)
Project Impact: Improved hydrologic modeling for Yosemite National Park to better understand and predict water resource and flood management.
DEVELOP's Impact: Carlos says DEVELOP taught him to vital lessons: humility and patience. He was initially intimidated by the technical skills of his teammates, but eventually found the ways he was able to successfully and meaningfully contribute his unique skills and perspective to the team. It inspired him to focus his studies towards developing other capacities.
Where is he now?: Carlos is now a Resource Specialist at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California where he models long-term water supply and demand- building directly on the skills he first learned as a DEVELOP participant!
25th Anniversary Wishes: “I was only 20 years old when I started this program and it was my first real professional internship. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this program as it kicked started my professional work career and opened so many doors that led to the fulfilling career I had today.”
"Knowing you can still engage with your fellow participants past your time at DEVELOP is really valuable."
DEVELOP Time & Location: 2017-2019 at NASA Langley (Participant, Impact Analysis Fellow, Senior Fellow)
Project Impact: Worked on many projects, impacting how we study and understand water resources and ecological conservation- including creating methods to study the health of underwater vegetation. (link)
DEVELOP's Impact: The most valuable thing that Danielle learned from her time at DEVELOP was being flexible. “Being able to take a problem and not panic about it- stick both feet in the ground and get it done.”
Where is she now?: Danielle joined the municipal government sector as the Senior Engineering Specialist for the City of Greensboro where she tackles major issues in water resources and policy. She leverages her skills to communicate and collaborate with various stakeholders – from constituents to community leaders – to enhance her community's understanding of and resilience to flooding.
"I learned so much and I’m honored to say I was affiliated with NASA, even just for a brief time."
DEVELOP Time & Location: 2021 Summer at NASA Marshall (Participant), 2021 Fall at NASA Goddard (Participant)
Project Impact: Identified 5 sites on the Delaware coast that were high-risk for marsh migration, helping to reduce the loss of wetlands & assessed habitat suitability for mink and otter on the Blackfeet Nation tribal lands. (link)
DEVELOP's Impact: DEVELOP helped Amanda realize that using GIS in conservation is exactly what she wanted to be pursuing. “You could say it gave me the clear direction I needed.” It also gave Amanda the confidence to work through difficult technical issues while collaborating harmoniously with other team members.
Where is she now?: Amanda is the GIS Specialist at Huntsville Botanical Garden. She is responsible for locating, mapping and gathering any metadata for all plants at the garden while also building community engagement and research relationships.
25th Anniversary Wishes: “I just want to thank the people behind DEVELOP for giving me a chance (twice!) to be a part of such an awesome program with truly kind and helpful people."
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