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June 2014 Newsletter

3 Questions for our program officer for the environment

Arturo Garcia-Costas recently joined The Trust’s grantmaking staff, bringing 20 years’ experience in environmental and sustainability issues. He’s a graduate of the City University of New York as well as Stanford Law School. He has worked for local nonprofits, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations.

Arturo Garcia-Costas

What drew you to work on environmental issues?
My grandfather. He was head of wildlife and natural resources for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Puerto Rico office. During my visits, he’d take me climbing, caving, and snorkeling. In each adventure, he talked about the plants and animals around us. This sparked a lifelong fascination with science and nature.

Your first task here was to revise The Trust’s national and New York City environmental grantmaking strategies. What was that like?
Like learning to swim by diving into the deep end of the pool: intense and rewarding. The range of issues we’ve addressed through the Henry Phillip Kraft Family Memorial Fund is amazing. From reducing toxic chemicals in consumer products to helping develop offshore wind farms to building successful wildlife corridors, our grants are changing things for the better. Still, developing the strategies crystallized for me the urgency of the environmental challenges we face.

The Trust is just one foundation. How can it most effectively address huge environmental challenges?
We look for opportunities where a grant to the right organization at the right time can make a difference. For example, we were an early supporter of an effort that got California to ban the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture, forcing manufacturers across the country to redesign their products. And we approach challenges from different angles. Our grants to get toxic chemicals out of consumer products use “market” approaches in addition to policy advocacy, such as work to convince retailers to stop selling products made from unsafe chemicals.

Next article in June Newsletter: An Inventor's Imagination, a Daughter's Dedication>>

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