Meet an Alum: Rachel Dawson, Delaware River Manager

Rachel Dawson

We asked alumna Rachel Dawson (Class of 2006) some questions about her career and time at ENRP. See what she had to say below...

Current job position: Manager, Delaware River (manages a $7 million fund for habitat restoration projects in the Delware River watershed) for the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation

Hometown: Deal Island, Maryland and Greenwood, Delaware

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Miami; BA Environmental Planning

Why Rachel chose ENRP: The ENRP program at GWU offered an opportunity to engage with other students from very diverse backgrounds, learn from top-notch educators, and to tailor the program to my specific interests.  Additionally, its location in the heart of DC offered access to unparalleled resources and opportunities on and off campus.

How ENRP prepared Rachel for her career: My ENRP program taught me to look at environmental challenges from multiple perspectives, to utilize robust analysis in decision-making, and the importance of building strong, collaborative working relationships with my colleagues.

What Rachel enjoys about her current job: Interacting with so many dedicated, innovative and inspiring professionals committed to natural resource conservation -- and playing a role in restoring and protecting some of the coolest habitat on the east coast.

Rachel's capstone project: Completed a decision-making analysis project with Dr. Merchant. Despite its heft, its lessons have been helpful in performing full issue analysis at various points in my career.

Rachel's favorite aspect of ENRP: It's a tossup between the variety of courses available through the program, the high-caliber professors and advisors with incredible experiences to share, and my classmates.  Ten years since taking my first ENRP class, I'm still working regularly with many of my classmates, frequently cross paths with others, and several have become like a surrogate family in DC.

Rachel's tips for living, studying, and working in DC: 1. Learn Metro etiquette. 2. Get to know your peers in the program -- many of them will become your colleagues and best friends, and can be a tremendous source of support and guidance. 3.  Even if you have to work two jobs to pull it off, if you're just starting out, go for an internship at an organization you respect (it can be a tough slog, but you will meet people who can help you, you will gain exposure to real-life projects, and it can provide lessons that pave the way for the remainder of your career). 

Rachel's career tips for those interested in environmental policy: Regardless of where you want to go -- nonprofits, agencies, the Hill, consulting -- I've learned it can't hurt to hone a few extra business skills as well, whether it's grant-writing, accounting and budgeting, GIS or other software use, communications and social media, or leadership and management.  The places you'll work are also businesses of some sort, and opportunities to use those skills arise frequently -- and can give you a great leg up.

A fun-fact about Rachel: I'm an avid hunter and angler, Ravens fan, SNL junkie and live in Old Town, Alexandria with my fiance Zack and our rescue dog Banana and cat Brewsky.