MyRWA Adds Staff to Help Communities Prepare for Extreme Weather

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) has announced that it has hired a specialist to help watershed communities prepare for climate resilience and social change, with one of those key communities being Chelsea.

“Far too often when we talk about preparing for climate change we focus on buildings and infrastructure and we leave out the people,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA). “We are thrilled to announce that Melanie Gárate is joining our staff to help integrate public health and social resilience best practices into community preparedness efforts.”

Gárate’s position was created as part of the $1.3 million in funding MyRWA has helped secure for regional climate resilience efforts through the 16-community Resilient Mystic Collaborative.  As Climate Resilience Project Manager, she will work closely with public health departments, service providers and community leaders to help municipalities  identify priority actions and investments to protect people’s health, housing and ability to work during and after heat waves and big storms. As part of these efforts, she will also work with MyRWA’s Greenways Director to increase community engagement in designing waterfront parks and paths to help people stay cool in the summer and provide safe, beautiful, active transportation opportunities.

“I am excited and humbled to join MyWRA in this capacity,” said Gárate. “I look forward to using my research background and lived experience as a Chilean-American immigrant to help incorporate the values and needs of those who typically do not have a seat at the table into our collective efforts to prepare the Mystic for climate change.”

Gárate is an experienced marine ecologist and educator with a BS in Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences from UMass Boston and an MS in Marine Ecology and Climate Change from the University of Rhode Island.  Fluent in both Spanish and English, she received a National Science Foundation Research Fellowship to study mangrove ecology in Puerto Rico. As an educator with the New England Aquarium and Mass Audubon, she taught environmental education and conservation science in both Spanish and English.

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