Megan Nicklaus, Career Center director, has identified more than 300 CC alumni on LinkedIn under the descriptors “climate change,” “renewable energy,” and “environment.” These fields are critical to human welfare, environmental sustainability, and national security.

In the spirit of the “Mission Impossible” movies and TV series, we’ve made it our mission to find these alumni and create a network on the professional networking platform, codename: Tiger Link. This will: 1. Create a valued network for alumni working in this space,  2. Identify opportunities for current students, and 3. Showcase CC’s strength in various fields working to build a sustainable future.

But we need you.

For your mission you will have the full support of Director of Alumni Relations and Assistant Vice President for Advancement Anita Pariseau, her staff, and resources for identifying alumni and organizing events.

Who assigned this mission? Essentially, CC alums. Alumni with the energy, talent, commitment, and knowledge to take on the challenge of global climate change. When you meet these people, you say, “I’ve got to get them together.”

If this sounds improbable, it’s not. It’s all true.

In the spring of 2017, I took a group of 11 CC students in EC255 – The Economics of Climate Change – to study California’s comprehensive climate policy under AB32 (the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006). We started in the state capital, Sacramento, to study how this policy was created and administered. We then went to the Bay Area to talk with people who are impacted by this legislation, including Chevron Oil, the public utility Pacific Gas and Electric, and the environmental equity organization Greenlining Institute. Along the way, University of California–Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Kyle Hemes ’11 met us where the Sacra-mento River empties into the San Francisco Bay to discuss carbon sequestration in tidal wetlands.

On the final evening of the course, Dan Fuwa ’12 organized an alumni event at the Biergarten in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, where Aaron Hulme ’95 and his twin brother, Matthew Hulme ’96, are part owners of the family operation. Under the night sky, alumni enthusiastically engaged the students about their California experiences. Mingling among both alumni I knew and those I did not, it became obvious that there was, to this economist’s eyes, “a stock of human capital,” that is, a critical mass of alumni engaged in some aspect of climate change, renewable energy, or the electricity grid. They should know each other, I thought. They should engage face to face.

Returning to campus, I had one of the great fortuitous moments in my 29 years at CC. Stella Mainar in the Office of Alumni and Family Relations had received an email from Sarah Davidson ’09 about having a New York City alumni event focusing on climate change. Stella thought it was a great idea, and at our first meeting it was clear that we could be an effective team. Stella wanted engaging alumni events. I wanted to get CC alumni working on climate change and sustainability together. Davidson’s idea of holding an event in one city quickly expanded to three. While San Francisco was first, New York and Washington, D.C. — and perhaps others — are slated for 2018-19. The CC Alumni Climate Forum was born.

Having recently been in San Francisco, I had names. Actually — too many names. Stella and I wanted presenters, but we had too many qualified alums — a very CC dilemma! Our problem was solved by John Simon ’86 of PG&E. He offered the PG&E board room atop its downtown headquarters. The room is configured in a large donut — everyone can see each other, everyone is equal, and the room can seat 38 people.

The event quickly filled and soon had a waiting list. Four alumni enthusiastically agreed to present to get a discussion going — Sarah Jo Manson ’06, of Silicon Valley Clean Energy, discussed grid decarbonization; John (Zheng) Mi ’07 of Sun Power discussed solar and wind energy; Kyle Hemes ’11 discussed carbon sequestration; and Matt Lewis ’93 reminded the group that what we are ignoring, in particular, is our assumptions about the transportation sector — over 40 percent of green house gas (GHG) emissions in California.

The presenters easily got the audience involved — when someone asked about electric cars, Lewis argued that the major utilities should build and own the electric vehicle charging stations. Simon responded that he agreed, but the California Public Utilities Commission would also have to agree; and Mi noted that from an industry perspective, it’s hard to make a buck with a charging station. It was professionals talking to professionals and, all of them, CC alumni. It was fun, engaging, and a great success.

As a recent Skype session with Steve McDougal ’87 of 3Degrees demonstrated, students feel empowered when they interact with alumni experts — empowered by the information but, more importantly, empowered by the feeling that that can be me.

As I close this piece on Nov. 4, 16 CC students in EC385 – the Economics of International Climate Policy – and I are hurtling across Germany by high-speed train to the annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn. We will spend two weeks here.During this time CC students will participate in a wide range of events as official NGO observers to the convention. Matt Banks ’97 (World Wildlife Fund), Katherine Neebe ’97 (Walmart), Lucy Kessler ’08 (master’s candidate, Yale), and Jeff Seabright P’18 (Unilever) have created additional opportunities for the students to understand how both environmental organizations and major corporations are working to promote climate action. Two weeks at CC, two weeks in Bonn — made possible by the Block Plan.

Discover more online at

Smith has taught at CC since 1988. During his tenure, he has taken nearly 500 students into the field to investigate environmental and resource issues. Smith was a European Union Affairs Fulbright Scholar in 2009 studying the European Union Emissions Trading System for controlling greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

How do you join the Mission Possible Team?

First, join Tiger Link. Once on the Tiger Link website it will take seconds to copy your LinkedIn profile to Tiger Link. Once copied, join Tiger Link’s first group – Climate Change Professionals.

Second, let me know of your work and interests: We are looking for cities with a critical mass of alumni working in this field to hold future forums. We want to connect you with other alumni. We want to connect students with you — for information, help with research, internships, and jobs. Your human capital is valuable.