Welcoming Chris Mertens, SBC’s New Government Affairs Director

Encouraging a commitment to the larger community and fostering a sense of individual purpose are two of SBC’s core values. We support these values not only with our partners in the region, but also with our own staff.  

It is in this spirit that I celebrate the recent changes in SBC’s Government Affairs program. Former Government Affairs Director Diana Madson has left SBC to expand her policy work with the Western Conservation Foundation, where she will direct the foundation’s Energy Program. As sad as I am not to be working with Diana every day, I am proud that SBC propelled someone like Diana to pursue a passion for western states land management, climate, and clean energy policy in a larger community context, especially at a time when such policies are at enormous risk.

In her three years with SBC Diana not only successfully launched Sierra CAMP and supported our advocacy work in Sacramento, but she was instrumental in building SBC’s and the region’s reputation with diverse partners ranging from our own Sierra community, to urban and Valley leaders throughout the state, and even on the national stage. Diana was also a primary instigator, along with Steve Frisch, of SBC’s dogged pursuit to unite urban and rural leaders to better understand their mutual dependences and support each other’s needs and goals.  The substantial funding for Sierra Nevada forest, watershed, and community sustainability in the two 2018 park/water bond initiatives is a direct result of her efforts.

COMM ChrisMertens Pic 2018 02As it often happens though, when one door closed another opened – and in walked our new Government Affairs Director, Chris Mertens. I am so pleased to introduce Chris, who starts with us on January 29. Both SBC and our partners will benefit from Chris’ more than 10 years of government affairs, legislative advocacy, and political campaign work as Legislative Consultant and registered lobbyist for a Sacramento lobbying firm and as Associate Environmental Planner with the California Tahoe Conservancy. His work on issues of climate change, natural resource conservation, clean energy, alternative transportation, and sustainable communities is a perfect mix for leading SBC’s advocacy and government affairs team. Like Diana, he will be an amazing asset to SBC and the region.  

Chris’ connection with the Sierra Nevada began at a young age exploring Lake Tahoe, the Tuolumne River watershed, and Yosemite with his family. After receiving his B.A. in Political Science from UC Davis and then working in Sacramento for six years, he moved to the Sierra fulltime. These days, his preferred method of travel in the mountains is on his mountain bike or split board. He is thrilled to be in a position where he can share his passion for the region with policymakers who can protect this special place and its communities for generations to come. 

Chris has a crack team to work with here at SBC, including Nikki Caravelli, [http://sierrabusiness.org/who-we-are/people/staff] who joined SBC as Sierra CAMP Project Manager and Climate Technician after her stint with us as a CivicSpark Climate Fellow, and Clarke Stevenson, [http://sierrabusiness.org/who-we-are/people/staff] SBC’s current CivicSpark Climate Fellow. Together they will continue SBC’s outreach and advocacy efforts to increase community vitality, economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social fairness throughout the Sierra Nevada. 

Please join me in welcoming Chris to the SBC family! You can reach him after January 29th at cmertens@sierrabusiness.org or 530-582-4800.