March 15, 2023
Announcing a green milestone for the Wilmette Park District and the Village of Wilmette: please welcome Lucy Mellen, the new Sustainability Coordinator and very first joint-agency position! The Village and Park District may be independent agencies, but we share a common goal of supporting, enriching and preserving our community’s resources for present and future generations in Wilmette. Lucy’s role was developed to guide Wilmette toward this common goal, and to harmonize activities and policies between agencies. “The Sustainability Coordinator will help ensure all Wilmette agencies are aligned on sustainability initiatives,” explains Executive Director Steve Wilson. “It’s an exciting step forward and Lucy is the right person for the job.”
While the Village of Wilmette has been working with an existing plan since 2021, sustainability is a brave new frontier at the Wilmette Park District, and we’re thrilled for Lucy to begin mapping it out for us! “It may not be working from a concrete plan, but the Park District has been implementing sustainable practices for years,” comments Lucy. “Right now, I’m working to benchmark the current practices, and from there I’d love to create an environmental plan to define policies already in place and guide the District towards greater sustainability goals.”
As stewards of parks and greenspaces, sustainability inherently goes hand-in-hand with the Park District mission. “It’s all about ensuring that future generations are able to enjoy all the wonderful things we have access to currently,” explains Lucy. “By implementing sustainable practices, the District is only further solidifying that they want to make parks and recreation accessible to everyone for as long as possible.” Serving as an expert advisor and an advocate for the future of our community, Lucy will divide the majority of her time between developing and guiding plans, practices and improvements all around the District, and furthering along implementation of the Village of Wilmette’s sustainability plan. A smaller portion of her time will be allocated to the Wilmette Public Library, Wilmette School District 39 and New Trier Township.
Since she first discovered the position, Lucy knew it would be an excellent fit for her professional background and passion – specifically regarding sustainability in the public sector. She first learned of the field in an environmental science class at the age of 14, and her interest grew when she learned she could study this focus in college. Lucy graduated with a degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Indiana University, following which, she was hired as the Heat Relief Coordinator for Richmond Indiana’s grant-funded heat management program, Beat the Heat. It was this experience where she found her true niche. “I really enjoyed addressing sustainability in the public sector! Combining community engagement with innovation and change is the exact place I want to be,” she said.
Lucy spent months performing public outreach and research, and ultimately created the City’s first heat management plan. “What really stood out for me was the importance of hearing the personal stories of individuals,” explained Lucy. She found tremendous value in gathering and analyzing feedback and perspectives from the people directly affected by extreme heat. “I gained a lot from their stories, and it allowed me to collaboratively implement things for the betterment of the community.”
At the conclusion of her work in the City of Richmond, Lucy had gained a wealth of experience and refined her sense of purpose. “I knew I wanted a broader position than my last role,” she explains, “and I was intrigued by the collaborative nature of the position in Wilmette. It shows how important sustainability is to the Village, the Park District and the whole community.” Looking at instilling a sustainable mindset throughout the community, Lucy will initially focus her efforts on environmental policy which can expand into social and economic improvements as well. To sum it all up, Lucy explains, “the goal across all participating organizations is the same: create a more sustainable Wilmette that is a resilient place for residents to live and work.”
“We are grateful for Lucy’s expertise as we strive to offer our residents high quality recreation, leisure and wellness opportunities well into the future,” says Steve. Expect great things and keep an eye out for Lucy’s influence throughout Wilmette!