Ashland High alum secures position on Bernie’s climate policy team – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News
Courtesy photo | Ashland High School graduate Camila Thorndike is an expert on climate policy in Senator Bernie Sanders’ office in Washington DC.
As a student at Ashland High School, Camila Thorndike was known among teachers for her meticulous note-taking and quick wit – the student writing margin to margin in her best mechanical pencil handwriting on each case study of the Supreme Court in an Advanced Placement Government class.
In May, Thorndike, now 33, accepted a position as a climate policy expert in the Washington, DC office of Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
Thorndike said his upbringing in Ashland – surrounded by caring people, environmentally conscious and civically engaged parents, Mount Ashland, wild and scenic rivers, agriculture and industry – made an early and lasting impression on his understanding of responsible management and a deeply rooted sense. of place.
âIt took a long time to realize: of course that’s not how everyone lives, and what an incredible privilege to grow up in a place like this,â she said. âI think it’s okay to take these gifts for granted to some extent, because these things should be available to everyone. It has set a very high bar for me of the world I fight for and what I think everyone deserves.
Thorndike graduated from AHS in 2005.
âCamila was exceptionally motivated and very interested in the workings of government and politics,â said Matthew McKinnon, former Thorndike AP government professor and colleague on the Geos Institute board. âIt was exciting to see it take off in that direction. She is clearly trying to make a difference in our world and our community.
During a gap year after high school, Thorndike’s grandmothers helped her travel and meet her family in Chile, Argentina, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
In first grade at Whitman College, she struggled with depression, dropped out of school for a time, and returned to Ashland to take classes at Southern Oregon University before resuming her studies at Whitman the following year to earn his diploma with his class of origin.
âI was very fortunate to be taken care of by the community of Ashland,â said Thorndike, who has coached skiing, worked at the Creekside Pizza Bistro and taught dance classes to young children in the area. ‘Ashland.
After college, she spent two years in Arizona interning with the Udall Foundation’s National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution, working with the Latin American community and learning skills in âconsensus and participatoryâ decision-making.
Back in Ashland, she co-founded an organization with a group of fellow AHS graduates that grew out of a community art project they organized to involve people in southern Oregon climate policy. Thorndike was the founding executive director until 2015.
The organization has evolved into the national Our Climate entity, which aims to empower young people to become actively involved in “equitable, science-based climate policy solutions,” according to the Our Climate website.
Thorndike campaigned in Washington DC to push through local carbon pricing legislation from 2016 to 2019.
“What we finally got was an omnibus package with the country’s most ambitious clean energy standard – it was 100% clean electricity by 2032 and new energy performance standards for people. existing and new buildings, âshe said.
While working on renewable energy policy in Vermont, she was accepted to Harvard Kennedy School with full tuition coverage through an environmental scholarship. She graduated with a Masters in Public Administration in 2020.
After working for a small national nonprofit on state-level climate policy, Thorndike campaigned in Georgia with the Sunrise Movement for the Senate run-off races in January. The victories of the Senses. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff gave the Senate a slim Democratic majority.
“It was life changing to be there and to see the work of so many generations of predominantly black lawyers fighting against voter oppression,” she said.
Thorndike relied on a strong network of peers to endorse his work when it came time to apply for a Senate position.
âIn terms of accomplishments that have really given me the confidence to push hard at the highest level, it’s the grassroots work here in Oregon that the community has so strongly supported,â said Thorndike. âAs a kid in your mid-twenties, I think it’s easy to not appreciate the kind of power that you actually have and that society expects you to use. â¦ I realized how much agency we, as an audience, leave on the table by not showing up.
Thorndike said she had witnessed the “transformative power” found when individuals – often led by young people – sit down with lawmakers and voice their political priorities on climate change.
From what she observed, the process of passing a law from start to finish relies on effective alliances – how well people can work together, accept responsibility, be compassionate and build trust. confidence despite differences in programs and funding models, Thorndike said.
With the budget reconciliation process in full swing, the Senate feels about as busy as the days of Obamacare’s passage.
âEveryone warned me that it would be like drinking from a fire hose,â she said. âIt has been a steep learning curve and an incredible opportunity to do well as we make deep decisions. “
Thorndike leads the energy and environment team, with a portfolio focused on climate, infrastructure, energy and natural resources committee, environment and public works committee, tribes and territories and transport.
She serves the dual role of climate investment coordinator for the staff of the Senator’s Budget Committee and her personal office, while Sanders chairs the US Senate Budget Committee.
Looking back on his journey from AHS Grizzly to a member of the Senate, Thorndike encouraged other passionate young nerds not to be dissuaded if some students would rather eat pizza or play basketball than participate in student government or the Amnesty International club during their lunch break.
âAll of this nerdy, serious energy has served me very well,â Thorndike said. “It was only in this position, when people saw me as the expert on these sprawling and overwhelming topics under the umbrella of climate change, that I began to see myself as an expert.”
Contact Ashland Tidings reporter Allayana Darrow at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-776-4497.