STAFF HIGHLIGHT Q&A: MALIA JOSEPHINE, LEAD FACILITATOR
What attracted you to the work here at Ag Innovations?
Ag Innovations is doing cutting-edge work at the intersections of many of my passions and skill sets. There are not a lot of organizations in the nation doing this work. I love that Ag Innovations is focused on advancing multi-stakeholder collaboration and that its mission is focused on finding innovative solutions to address complex natural resource issues. My whole career has been focused on understanding how to resolve some of the most challenging problems humanity faces. I am so grateful to be working with an organization that is fearlessly leading the way.
What drew you to facilitation around ag and natural resources?
I’m lucky I grew up having a connection to nature. I grew up going hunting, fishing, and camping in Colorado. As an adult, I lived and worked at a 7 acre orchard farm in Oregon for 2.5 years. Most of my previous work has been focused on sustainability. I want nature and humanity to thrive for generations to come. Facilitation is in service of that vision. I believe facilitation will change the world. As a facilitator, my mission is to advance democratic process so that diverse perspectives shape the transformation of society and the environment. In the spirit of that mission, I pursued a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning to gain experience in implementing community engagement plans for complex city and regional development projects. I’m interested in learning tools and approaches that are going to positively change the world and that’s what got me to where I am today.
What, if anything, in your childhood, family, or history drew you to this work?
While in my undergrad I was accepted into an intensive hands-on facilitation program with the Center for Public Deliberation (CPD). At the CPD I learned about how to use deliberative democracy, mediation, and facilitation skills to address “wicked problems,” aka problems that do not have one solution. In that program, I facilitated public forums, open houses, and focus groups to help multi-stakeholder groups collaborate on city resilience, homelessness, affordable housing, and zoning plans. That experience changed my life.
What is one issue or topic in the ag, food, water, or fire – the focus areas of Ag Innovations — that you are most interested in at this moment?
I care about urban and rural communities. I’m really passionate about how the changing landscape of natural resources impacts social, infrastructural, and ecological systems at the city and regional level. Because of my Planning degree, BA in Sociology, and my personality, I tend to bring a 30,000 foot view and am interested in the interconnections of environmental issues.
And finally, what do you like to do outside of work?
I currently live in and love exploring Santa Barbara, where I was born. I also enjoy weight lifting, watching sci-fi, making delicious healthy meals, experiencing epic moments in nature, and visioning into the future of life and the world.