I serve as AECOM’s global director of resilience, leading climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction efforts across our firm, with an emphasis on key cities in North America. If it sounds like a big job, you can believe it.

With our dedicated, multi-disciplinary teams in countries around the world and strong public-private sector partnerships, we’re helping cities and states better understand and prepare for climate change and its impacts. It’s truly a collaboration of the best minds, leading experts and dedicated stakeholders coming together to address today’s challenges and anticipate “what’s next.”

In the United States, we’re working on climate adaptation projects and pursuits in New York City, Miami, Norfolk, San Francisco and Los Angeles among other cities, as well as building a new business in the corporate climate adaptation and resilience market to more widely respond to the growing need. One of our partnerships is with the Rockefeller Foundation in support of the 100 Resilient Cities program, working to develop resilience strategies for member cities, both in the U.S. and globally.

Part of my job is to help clients and stakeholders understand the business case for climate change mitigation and adaptation. It’s most important to realize that climate change, as recently noted by the World Economic Forum, is one of the biggest risks we face globally, but it also presents a number of opportunities. By tackling climate issues, we can leverage significant economic growth and also address issues of social equity.

I grew up in an urban setting (Washington, D.C.), but natural areas were important to my family, and we often spent time hiking and at the beach. As a Boy Scout, I learned more about nature and how to coexist with it and protect natural areas. Professionally, I’ve worked on environmental issues since the 1980s when I became a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following Hurricane Katrina, I became even more involved in resilient re-building and dedicated to ensuring cities and infrastructure are better prepared.

All of my work in environmental planning and infrastructure development has been done with a sensitivity to how fragile ecosystems can be when we don’t think about them holistically. Infrastructure development requires that we balance the needs of progress with sustainable and resilient design. These things are not mutually exclusive — we can build on innovative and sustainable practices to meet our economic, social and environmental goals.