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In the summer of 2000, former OLCV Political Director Katy Daily took a leave from her job. But she didn't spend that time hiking in the Cascades or surfing on the Coast. No, she spent it volunteering for political campaigns. Then 32, Katy had logged a decade happily employed in high tech. But, she says, something was missing. “There was a point when I realized I wasn’t getting much self-actualization,” Katy says.
Her summer on the campaign trail fed her something she’d been craving. She quit her job, and started working for a campaign. Her new job paid just a third of her high tech salary.
That same year, Katy met Jonathan Poisner, then executive director of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, and started organizing house parties for OLCV. It was the start of a decade-long relationship between Katy and OLCV, where she has served as the Oregon Conservation Network Coordinator, Field Director and organizer responsible for OLCV’s county chapter program, a board member and PAC Board Chair, and, since 2006, Political Director. “Environmental issues were always a core value of mine. I just didn’t have an outlet for it,” she says.
Once with that outlet, Katy's logged a long list of wins for Oregon’s rivers, forests, fish and farms. including passing Oregon’s E-Waste Law in the 2007 Oregon Legislature. “I was able to have my hands in all of it,” she says of the bill that passed unanimously after similar attempts failed in the two previous sessions. In the last two years, Oregon's E-Waste Law has kept nearly 38 million pounds of recyclable televisions, computer parts and other e-waste out of Oregon's landfills and helped protect our drinking water from toxic lead and mercury.
Katy’s also proud of the updates to the bottle bill that passed in the same session—after 36 years of trying. And passing Measure 49, which fixed the land-use debacle created by Measure 37 and prevented Oregon farmland from being paved over.
Election work is something that Katy excels at, probably because she sees clearly the connection between electing environmental leaders and passing sound environmental protections. “Turning the tide of 25 years of having to be on the defensive and being able to pass proactive legislation was huge.” she says. “That was a culmination of election work. The proof is in the pudding.”
Katy has worked to elect pro-environment candidates at all levels of government. “A lot of environmental issues are local and there are things you can do at the local level that affect your family, your neighbors,” says Katy. “That’s what we do at OLCV. We have a story to tell that every vote matters and that individual conversations with voters matter.”
Katy has done more than her share of that painstaking work, not only calling and canvassing Oregon voters, but also organizing OLCV’s volunteer effort to reach voters—one of the largest Get Out The Vote efforts in the state. And it gets results. Katy beams talking about the Clackamas County Commission, which rarely held a pro-environment majority of the three-person commission. The commission now has five members—and all five attended OLCV’s Annual Celebration last April.
The list is long and there’s more to do—like further expansion of the bottle bill in 2011.
But this Portland-raised, Oregon State-educated Oregonian is leaving home in 2011, heading to her partner’s homeland with their twin toddlers: Australia. What’s she going to miss about Oregon? “Oh… yeah…,” she says. “Everything.” When pressed for specifics: “I love Jefferson Park [Wilderness Area]. I love the Columbia Gorge. I love the summit of South Sister. And I love the Oregon Coast.”
“Oregon is a great place to raise kids—Oregon’s natural legacy is having clean air, clean water, a great environment to live in. We have a responsibility to protect that for our kids and to protect the natural resources that make Oregon a great place to live--the salmon, the trees…”
Katy’s sure she’ll work on environmental issues one way or another, but sees this as an opportunity to branch out, maybe get involved in renewable energy, green building, or sustainable agriculture. “There is no shortage of problems in Australia I could work on that would have a global impact,” Katy says in her particular way of being light-hearted and positive about even the most daunting challenges.
Australia, you have no idea what you’re in for.
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Protection of remaining intact wilderness for its intrinsic value to all living inhabitants is as noble and worthy a goal as any development could possibly be. That's why we support organizations such as OLCV and our political representatives who work hard to protect Oregon's natural legacy.
Bob Del Gizzi and Michele Dickson (pictured above with canine companion Zeus)