Commencement Address 2009: Joel Reynolds, NRDC

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Commencement speaker Joel Reynolds (center) with UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang (left) and Bren School Acting Dean John Melack

Commencement Speaker Joel Reynolds to Graduates:

Seize Opportunities of Current "Perfect Storm"

Joel Reynolds, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-director of the NRDC Urban Program, delivered a high-powered address as the keynote speaker at the Bren School's 2009 commencement exercises, held June 12 in the Bren Hall courtyard. The talk was warmly received by a standing-room-only crowd of master's and PhD graduates, family and friends, and Bren faculty and staff assembled beneath the sycamore trees.

In the address, titled "Congratulations: Now clean up this mess!" Mr. Reynolds offered a few highlights from his thirty years as an environmental attorney and urged the graduates: "Find your passion, find your outrage, follow it, and the rest will take care of itself."

Describing the Bren School as "the right place to be at the right time," he blended serious environmental anecdotes with humor and references ranging from Robert Kennedy to Jack Bauer (of the TV show 24), from the U.S. Supreme Court to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and from Voltaire to Homer Simpson.

It was all part of a rapid-fire speech in which the speaker laid out a compelling challenge to graduates, urging them to seize the opportunities inherent in what he termed "a perfect storm of economic and environmental crisis."

The Bren School is extremely grateful to Mr. Reynolds for his time, for his continued dedication to the environment and environmental justice, and for his powerful message to the class of 2009.

Read the complete speech.