Nicholas Nairn-Birch, LiS Class of 2009, E.S.E. 2012

Nairn-Birch heads California’s effort to get low-income residents out of older, high-polluting, gas-guzzling cars and into clean-air vehicles. Working for the Air Resources Board, he designs programs to modernize the state’s car fleet and meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. In LiS, Nairn-Birch quickly learned that environmental problems have to be addressed in their broader context—most environmental solutions require input from a variety of experts. Being able to speak to and facilitate dialogue with chemists, engineers, toxicologists, economists, business people and trade associations is key to sustainability leadership, he says. It’s a skill that was also instrumental in his earlier work on pollution prevention and chemical safety at the EPA.