Farewell to HEAL after Eight Great Years (and what a day to go out on!)

This morning, the HEAL Utah community came together to celebrate and support activism.

Bfast Room Kosmicki

We heard from our founding board member, Chip Ward.  We heard from Caroline Gleich— a dedicated professional skier and passionate environmental advocate who received HEAL’s “Inspired Leadership” award this year.  (Check out all the photos by Ed Kosmicki throughout this post).

And, of course, we heard from writer and activist Rebecca Solnit.

Before I tell you about her amazing message, I want to share with you some news of my own.

Today was a very special day for me — not only because it’s our 13th Annual Spring Breakfast– my favorite event of the year! — but because it’s my last “official” day of work as HEAL Utah’s Associate Director.

Staff Shot Kosmicki

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it, than with so many of you.

I started at HEAL in 2008, fresh from college, and excited about returning back to Salt Lake where I grew up, after studies back East.  My goal was big, but certainly tangible: to HELP THE ENVIRONMENT!  

I was HEAL’s first Development Director.  Which meant that I not only got to ask people for money, but I got to know the minute details of everything the organization does, and use that to increase our support.  It’s been a wonderful job.

My first couple weeks at HEAL were spent watching John Urgo — our Outreach Director at the time — plan our 5th Annual Spring Breakfast.  (It was still early in the morning, and yes, people still showed up!)

And with that event, I got my first introduction to this powerful and effective community– and to issues that inspire and motivate me to the core.   

It’s incredible to think back on what we’ve accomplished in that time: From stopping the aggressive nuclear waste company EnergySolutions from dumping all sorts of waste they shouldn’t here in Utah (Italian, depleted uranium, blended), to delaying (and likely killing) Utah’s would-be first set of commercial nuclear reactors, to publishing a bold roadmap to clean energy, to getting back to HEAL’s early roots in our campaign to clean up our dirty air.

I’ve truly loved every day at my job at HEAL.

But you know it’s time to leave when the organization is in a stable place.  And it is.  It’s in the very capable and talented hands of Matt, Ashley, Michael, Laura, and our Board — all passionate and talented people with big plans to take HEAL’s environmental work to the next level.

I won’t be going too far: In fact, I’m headed just a few blocks away to join the wonderful team at the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department.  So you’ll be hearing from me in a different context.  And certainly seeing me at future HEAL events.

I can’t think of better people to have worked with over the years– from my talented co-workers, to our Board members, to our volunteers, to all of you.  

The people are what make this HEAL community so powerful.  It’s been an honor to work here, to get to know you all, and, together, to make Utah a better place.

And so I end my final email from HEAL with– fittingly– a request: To ask you to consider making a gift to support our work. Today’s breakfast was, in part, a call to environmental activism (see below for details) but it was also, of course, a fundraiser.

Our two fundraising events per year are fun and interesting. But they’re also essential to our bottom line success: We raise more than one-quarter of our total budget between them. And, so, if you weren’t able to attend the breakfast today, please consider making a gift to HEAL via our secure online donation portal. Thank you!

A brief recap of today’s program:

Our main speaker, author and activist Rebecca Solnit, was brilliant. She drew heavily upon the new forward from her reissued book, “Hope in the Dark.” It’s a call for redefining how we think about success as environmentalists. We must recognize that change comes slowly — and in unexpected ways. We must continue to plug away, with hope at our backs, knowing that even if we sometimes don’t notice, the world around us changes, sometimes suddenly making big change more possible than we dreamed.

Solnit HEAL Kosmicki

It was inspiring and powerful — and more than a bit funny!

And then our Executive Director Matt Pacenza spoke, describing how several of HEAL’s campaigns have moved in precisely the unexpected ways that Rebecca writes and speaks about. He let attendees know that our push for an innovative renewable energy model called CCA (community choice aggregation) was recently resuscitated from the dead, years after we started working on it, thanks to Salt Lake City, Summit County and Park City voting this past month to invest $90,000 in a feasibility study to explore how CCA might work in Utah.

Valuable work that took a while to pay off.

Matt also spoke about a new project HEAL is working on, coordinating with our friends at Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and Utah Moms for Clean Air on a new organizing project.Matt- Hope-in the Dark Kosmicki

We’re looking to encourage a cadre of budding clean air activists in areas of the Wasatch Front where their elected officials don’t vote well on air quality bills to become engaged in citizen lobbying efforts.

How exactly and when exactly will that work pay off?

We don’t know. But what I do know, after eight great years at HEAL, is that with your help, our strategic persistence does eventually bear fruit– In cleaner air, in cleaner energy and in protecting Utah from nuclear threats.

It’s been an honor to work here.

Thank you.


P.S. So, as you probably guessed, HEAL is hiring a new Development Director! I’m biased, but I think it’s a great job. Applications are due in early July. So please send this link to anyone you know who might be interested!