GRADUCon 2020 - Green Jobs



Do you care about the environment, but aren’t sure what green jobs are out there? Especially for somebody with a graduate degree? It can be difficult to figure out how to match up your skill set with causes you care about but, in this panel, we’ll be talking to four graduates who have managed to do just that. With different disciplinary backgrounds and different career areas, this panel will provide an insightful survey of the different green careers one could pursue. What is it like having an environmentally-focused career right now? Which jobs should be prioritized in confronting climate change? How can we best prepare for the green jobs we want whilst still at graduate school? Come along to listen and ask your own questions.


Chelsey Grassfield, Policy Specialist, Friends of the Chicago River (MA, Humanities, University of Chicago, 2018; MA, Education, University of California, Davis, 2014; Bilingual Teaching Credential, University of California, Davis, 2013; BA, Education, Sacramento State University, 2012)

Chelsey began her career as an elementary school teacher in California before deciding it was time for a career pivot. Uncertain of what that next step should be, she decided to explore her options through the MAPH program at U of C. She became interested in public policy when she took a class at Harris, which was focused on the Our Great Rivers initiative led by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). Reflecting on her experiences in California, she realized that the environment had always been a passion and decided to pursue that fully. It took a great deal of volunteering at forest preserves, networking with nonprofit and environmental groups, inviting strangers to informational interviews, and an internship with MPC before landing her job at Friends of the Chicago River. Chelsey was pleasantly surprised that the Midwest has a strong activist base and so many amazing environmental organizations; she is happy to be a part of this industry.

Jeff McMahon, Senior Contributor, Forbes (MA, Humanities, University of Chicago, 2002)

Jeff McMahon has been covering the environment (and energy) since 1985. His byline has appeared under the banner of daily newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and the Arizona Republic, alternative weeklies like New Times and Newcity, and for the last decade at Forbes. He has focused exclusively on climate change since 2008—including coverage of the UN Climate Conferences at Copenhagen and Paris. He has also taught journalism, creative non-fiction, argument and scientific writing at the University of Chicago.

Kate Stel, Volunteer Coordinator, Riverview Gardens (Master of Divinity, University of Chicago, 2019)

I’m passionate about empowering others to build relationships and spark transformative experiences with the natural world through hands-on work. As the Volunteer Coordinator at Riverview Gardens, I work to transform communities and build dignity by connecting vulnerable groups facing barriers to employment to our ServiceWorks job training program. Participants and community volunteers work together at our organic Urban Farm, hydroponic greenhouse, and aquaponic growing facility. My background includes environmental and conservation work in mostly faith-based nonprofit organizations. 

Caroline Taylor, Director of R&D, EarthShift Global (PhD, Chemistry, University of Chicago, 2003; Postdoc, Cornell University, 2003-2005)

Caroline Taylor (PhD’03) is Director of R&D and a Senior Sustainability Analyst for EarthShift Global, where she conducts and supports rigorous research and analysis for strategic sustainability decision-making. EarthShift Global works internationally with Fortune 500 companies, SMEs, government agencies, and academics to provide a better understanding of the environmental and social impacts of systems, products and decisions. With 20+ years of experience in modeling and analysis, more than a decade of it in sustainability, Caroline has worked on a wide range of topics including environmental and social impact, energy and resources, risk, emerging technologies, and assessment. Her current work addresses incorporating both qualitative and quantitative elements into holistic sustainability analysis.  Caroline is an active member multiple advisory and editorial boards, including the Advisory Board for BigData@Rutgers/SFSU, and serves on the Policy Committee of the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment, and has ongoing collaborations with colleagues at UC Berkeley’s ARE and University of Bath focusing on advanced methods for sustainability assessment. She has Bachelor’s degrees in Classics and Chemistry from UC Irvine and a Doctorate in Chemistry (Chemical Physics) from the University of Chicago, and was a post-doctoral scholar at Cornell University.


Mike Hogue, Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion, Meadville Lombard Theological School (MA and PhD in Theological Ethics, University of Chicago, 2005)

Mike Hogue’s teaching, research, and writing examine the religious and moral aspects of political and planetary crises. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, the most recent of which is American Immanence: Democracy for an Uncertain World (Columbia, 2018).


Please register for the event. Zoom details will be shared with registrants a day prior to the event.