#PolicyProfile: Claire Kaufman MPA '23
“When I first learned about climate change in high school, I couldn’t understand why so little had been done. The solution seemed simple enough: We all need clean air and clean water, and, to get there, we need clean energy. But the barriers were in the policy. I studied environmental economics and policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and then moved to Arizona to work on biodiversity and endangered species protection.
However, my path wasn’t linear, and I suppose it never will be. I got very sick in 2017. Once I regained my strength, I decided to be a yoga teacher. I also worked at a cafe and led community workshops on sustainability. This clicked; I loved working with people. I found my way into local politics and served as the planning, transportation, and sustainability policy advisor for the former mayor of Tucson, Arizona, Jonathan Rothschild.
When you call a place home, it's really exciting to watch it improve. I felt like I was part of something greater, helping to create a more livable, equitable, and climate-resilient city."Claire Kaufman
After the mayor left office, I briefly worked for the downtown councilperson before joining LocalFirstAZ, where I taught sustainability to local businesses. However, it became apparent that even if local businesses want to do the right thing, the system is not always set up in their favor. Over and over, I was drawn back to policy. SPIA is such an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by interesting people who are similarly motivated to work in the public sector and make change.
Sometimes, doing climate work feels overwhelming. I understand why people choose to ignore it. But doing something and meeting other people trying to make the world a better place brings me hope. Everyone I love in this world — all the friends and family I am so lucky to be surrounded by — are reasons to keep trying. The fight for climate justice is a massive crisis, but an even bigger opportunity to create a more just world."