Callahan accepted the PRNSA job. She recently left
that post to become director of the Colorado River
Sustainability Campaign, a job that affords a better
commute (none) and more time with their son.
In the Bay
go out for a
you hang out
is not what
you do in
Why the move to Marin? Deb: I’m a native
Californian. I grew up in L. A. and left there in
1984 to work on the Mondale campaign for what
I thought was going to be a month. I finally made
it back home last year. We’ve known for a while
that we wanted to move back here, and the timing lined up with this amazing opportunity to
run the PRNSA. I think that Californians are
just like New Yorkers; you find that they want to
come home at a particular time in life. Ken: For
me, personally, it was a great time to get a little
distance from the Washington scene, to see if it
wouldn’t freshen me up for the work, in a way.
And that has proven to be the case. I was out
here maybe once every six weeks any way, raising
money. And I was at the point in my career where
I was ready to not be a hands-on manager day in
and day out. So it was an easy move to make. Also,
we wanted to raise our son in California.
How did a couple of environmental powerhouses
end up getting married? Deb: I like to say I fell in
love with his work first. I was working for the W.
Alton Jones Foundation doing environmental grant
making and Ken was one of my grantees. He was
married to his first wife at the time. Ken: We started
dating in mid-1997, a little less than a year after I
separated from my first wife. Deb and I were first
friends and then we started going out and sparks
just flew right away. Deb: It was an instant click.
of those are from Marin. L. A. is big too and so is
D.C., but coming out here, I far more often run
into people who know us because of something
we’ve done on consumer health, especially at
places like Whole Foods and Good Earth. For me,
it’s like coming back home.
What do you find is the biggest contrast between
D.C. and the West Coast? Deb: One of the great
differences is the way social life works here. In
Washington, you go out to dinner. In the Bay Area
and Marin, you go out for a hike, and that’s how
you hang out with your friends. That is not what
you do in Washington at all. Life is very different
here, in a wonderful way.
Is a Marin resident more likely to be carrying
around a copy of the Dirty Dozen list in her wallet
than someone inside the Beltway? Ken: It’s funny
you say that; we know the exact number of our
supporters. We have about 60,000 people from
the Bay Area on our email list, and about 1,000
What are the most pressing environmental issues
facing Marin? Deb: I wonder what it’s going to be
like here in 20 or 30 or 40 years with global climate
change. When I was working at Point Reyes, I kept
asking, is Point Reyes going to be an island when the
sea level rises? There’s been a fair amount of modeling done out there, and it shows that the change
could be significant. But the Giacomini Wetland
Restoration Project is a great model for the kind of
thing we need to do to keep ecosystems resilient.
If we’re planting natural habitat and restoring the
wetlands around the coastal zones, the area can
absorb the water if there’s increased flooding and
raised tides. It’s like what we saw with Superstorm
Sandy in New York.