Originally from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Carly Schmidt (she/her) now lives and works in Denver, Colorado, on Arapaho, Ute, and Cheyenne lands.
Carly joined River Network in 2018. As Membership & Communications Manager, she leads the River Rally conference planning cycle and oversees River Network’s membership program by sharing member stories through the Meet Your Network page and keeping network members connected though the monthly Events & Education newsletter.
Carly earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tulsa where she was captain of the women’s rowing team. She went on to obtain a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences & Policy from Northern Arizona University. Prior to joining River Network, she created content for the Project WILD environmental education guides, facilitated outdoor education programs, and managed marketing and communications at a wildlife rehabilitation center. Outside of work, Carly is a voracious reader who spends weekends exploring local trails, gardening, and cooking through her ever-expanding recipe list.
Which River Network value most speaks to you?
Respect. A critical objective of the last few years has been decentralizing leadership and soliciting feedback from partners and staff wherever possible. To me, this has been an important reminder that this movement is made up of individuals with unique experiences and talents who care deeply about the work. I have learned so much from this team and our partners by taking more time to share openly and collaborate!
What called you to work in water?
I grew up rowing and sailing on Lake Ontario, so this vocation was sparked by the joy of being in or on the water. I had the privilege of competing, practicing, and playing on so many bodies of water in varying states of health. As I took more of an interest in freshwater protection, I learned that appreciating the experiences afforded by our freshwater sources is not enough. I am continuously learning and being inspired by the people and communities working tirelessly to protect water for people and nature.
Why is equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) important in your work?
Like many of us, I need to know that the work I am doing has a real and meaningful impact. There are so many challenges to clean, safe, and affordable water, and so many are related to environmental injustice. Ultimately, a movement that has real impact has to include those who are directly affected by every challenge. Including a broad range of voices, experiences, and worldviews in this movement is essential to our collective impact.
What was the most inspiring aspect of your work over the past year?
River Rally 2022 was a long time coming. After two years of virtual gatherings, it was wonderful to catch up with our partners in person and put faces to a few names I’d met virtually during the pandemic. The event was an important reminder that there is so much joy, energy, and momentum in this movement.