by Meg Jamison, Executive Director
I started working with SSDN as a consultant in 2015 with one of SSDN’s founding members, Maggie Ullman. I helped organize our Annual Meeting in Atlanta where we gathered about 35 local government practitioners in Atlanta. At that point, SSDN had no network staff… only two consultants trying to build off of the incredible energy that members had and their drive to do the very hard task of climate work in the South.
Since 2015, the road traveled has not been easy: from a federal government that has stalled and reversed progress to a global pandemic - indeed they have been unprecedented times.
Yet still our network has made enormous strides and progress. Today the network has over 115 local government practitioners and during this same time period we added a new state (Virginia). I’m excited to share that SSDN has recently hired our ninth and tenth staff members, Daniel Antonio Miguel, who joins SSDN as our Policy Manager for Florida, and Krista Early, who joins this week as SSDN’s Federal Programs Coordinator.
We have three core programs now: Peer Learning Program, Policy Program and our Federal Funding Program, with several branches that serve members and nonmembers with resources like the EPA Multimedia Environmental Finance Center for Region 4 and the Local Infrastructure Hub Cohorts program. We don’t just have one core funder anymore - we have a dozen.
As we start 2024, I am filled with gratitude for my own personal journey with SSDN and the journey that you all have been on as leaders in your own communities. I am grateful for the progress that we have made in our region to address critical issues caused by climate change - flooding, increased heat, poor air quality, drought, and more. I wanted to start this year with a reflection about the pathway that the network has taken since I have been a part of it. I want to recognize that this path has never been certain, but we have all worked together to build a trusted community of practitioners and partners. And that certainty and trust is what has allowed SSDN to collectively remain strong even in the face of enormous challenges.
My commitment, SSDN’s team’s commitment, and SSDN’s Steering Committee’s commitment to the membership is to maintain this trusted space and to continue to maintain our core function of building and maintaining relationships.
With this commitment, my message to SSDN members this new year is to keep focused and stay energized. We have enormous opportunities ahead of us all this year, with enormous opportunities to implement the work that you’ve all been planning for many years now. There is a lot of distraction and a lot of excess noise around us - look to SSDN to help you maintain your drive and maintain your progress. Onward!