Our Present: An Interview with UA President Emily Steele

Urban Ambassadors will celebrate its 9 year anniversary later this year, so we thought it was a great time to look at where we've been (check out last months blog with founder Adam Hammes), what we’re up to now and what we dream for UA in the future. 

In our second installment in this three part series, we'll explore where we're at today with UA President Emily Steele. Emily is the Client Relationship Manager for Think Digital, a digital marketing company. Her work stretches beyond the office into community transformation on many levels, from launching POP UP YOGA DSM to overseeing FemCity Des Moines. Originally from Pella and a Drake graduate, she is interested in bringing various sectors together to make significant impact. 

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What is UA's current mission? 

Our mission is to inspire & empower individuals to be more sustainable in their home & in their community. 

How does UA fulfill its mission?

Our board and fellow "ambassadors" are amazing connectors in the community. As a "hub" for sustainability, we are here as a one-stop shop for resources and relationships. We also host monthly meet-ups (second Tuesdays of the month!) to offer our community education on sustainability-related topics. These have ranged from learning how to compost to looking at a variety of electric cars (picture below). 

We're constantly posting sustainability events in the metro through our Facebook page and our Facebook Group. It's fascinating to see how many people live sustainably in many different ways.

What need do you see UA filling in DM? 

Urban Ambassadors does a lot of intangible work. We find that a lot of newer people in our community get plugged in to meet like-minded people and learn how they can be sustainable in our city. Connections are absolutely invaluable and we find that because of our wide net, we're able to touch many lives on a variety of focus areas for sustainability.

I love our social media presence and how frequently we are sharing other organization's upcoming events. Our all-volunteer board works hard to lift up the businesses and organizations in town that are focusing on sustainability. The last three years we've hosted an event that celebrated our local "eco-heroes;" many of the individuals are grassroots, neighborhood people who are trying to make an impact. We find that these people typically do this without praise or acknowledgment (even though they absolutely deserve it), so lifting them up is something we're all really proud and excited to do.

What is the makeup of the organization? 

Right now, we are an all-volunteer board of 8 people. We have committee chairs of people who focus on marketing, meet-ups, finances, and so forth. The picture below is the powerhouse of women that serve on our board! (Not pictured Zack Valigosky and Jeremy Moore)

What inspires you to be involved with Urban Ambassadors? 

I'm a huge advocate for community building and creating a vibrant city of people who care about sustainability. Every person I've met has a different sustainability journey; no person is better or worse than the other person, we're all just trying to do the best we can to make sure our planet is taken care of. Some people are leading efforts to pick up trash in their neighborhoods, while other people are installing solar panels. It's all great & progressive, so we want to celebrate and share those efforts.

I've also found that UA has helped me meet some pretty remarkable people that I'm not sure I would have otherwise met!

How can people get involved now? 

Since we are a nonprofit, it takes volunteers to make events and other monthly activities happen. If you find a passion in sustainability, we'd love to chat with you! From joining our board to helping with an annual event, your time and talent can be put to good use. We know our community is filled with amazing & generous people as well, so if you feel inspired to give to Urban Ambassadors, you can support our mission by donating here.