by Janaira Quigley, Ocean Connectors’ new Executive Director
What a pleasure it is to join the Ocean Connectors team! The mission to “educate, inspire and connect youth in underserved Pacific coastal communities through the study of migratory marine life,” appealed to me on a multitude of levels. Education, equity, connection, sustainability, marine ecology are themes that have been present in my work in varying degrees. I am lucky to join a team whose work lies at the intersection of these core tenets.
Education and Equity
Throughout my career I have gravitated toward education as a tool for change-making. Making a change in our own lives is honorable, but empowering others to make change is where we can create momentum. Currently, I teach Leadership Theory and Strategic Management at the undergraduate level at the University of San Diego. In my former position, I led a team of instructors that taught basic digital literacy skills in the community where access was a major barrier. Other positions included Director of Training, and Leadership Development Manager.
We are not islands. We depend on one another for every resource we use daily: the food we eat, transportation, utilities… But connection runs deeper than that. It is how we know that we are not alone and that our presence matters. I worked with Meals on Wheels for many years, and it is still one of my most fulfilling contributions. Delivering meals to homebound seniors was important, but the true difference was made when we were able to connect and share with people that were unable to be physically present in their communities. I was inspired by this and co-developed a business that connected home-bound seniors with stay-at-home moms. The business was taken on as a program at a local community-based organization.
Recycling, composting, and waste-reduction have been programs that have been physically integrated into every position I have ever held. Regardless of the industry, I was always looking for ways to incorporate battery, lightbulb, paper recycling into the daily operations. In college, I was president of the Environmental Club that implemented campus-wide aluminum recycling.
I am also fascinated by sustainability as a change-making concept within community-based organizations. How do organizations create programs that provide their own revenue streams to maximize impact? I am researching this topic for my doctoral degree…. Stay tuned as I may share some industry insights over the next few years.
My first love was Marine Biology. As a little girl I would study whales for fun. I would read books on coral reefs, and my bedroom was covered in dolphin posters. I was obsessed with Narwhals. Seeing a unicorn whale was my biggest dream (and still might be). I decided to study Environmental Science rather than marine biology, and ended up in the field of business. These past years, I have been looking for a way to incorporate marine science in a more integrated way than just beach clean ups. I was attending lectures and events on USD’s campus in the marine science department in an attempt to gain exposure.
So here I am. I found an organization that exists at the intersection of my passion, talents, and knowledge. How serendipitous! I bet that is why you are here too. If you are reading this blog, you have been called to Ocean Connectors’ mission in your own, unique way. I am truly looking forward to learning about the intersections in our community that have brought us all here, and connected us in such a powerful way.