1. And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?" (Tell us your journey?)
I grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, with the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in my backyard. As a young kid, we had creeks and woods to play in, and as I got older, the mountains were a part of our social fabric. I didn’t really appreciate the access we had to such amazing nature until I left. The other larger-than-life figure in Knoxville was Pat Summitt, legendary coach of Lady Vols basketball. Her leadership on and off the court created an atmosphere of celebration of strong women that still inspires me today.
While the mountains and women's sports set the context of my childhood, some of the most formative experiences I had were international. Starting at age 11, I participated in international programs designed to bring youth together for “peace-building,” taking me to Germany, Japan, Romania, and Brazil. And yes, if you are reading closely, I did say Romania, and the year was 1989. As a fourteen-year-old, I went to a youth camp on the Black Sea with 300 other teenagers from every country on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I learned from an early age that we are much more alike than we are different. I also realized that our problems are collective problems, and internationally coordinated actions are crucial to solving them. The climate crisis has made that obvious to everyone, but in 1989, to me at age 14, it felt like an epiphany.
Emily at Children's International Summer Villages, Romania, 1989
Going into college, I knew I wanted to work on international policy issues, but was undecided about what issue I wanted to focus on. I majored in Public and International Affairs at Princeton, and then took two years to explore different options, piecing together a series of grants, fellowships, and internships, including an internship at the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention in Vienna and lots of side gigs tutoring and babysitting. Then I decided to continue pursuing indecision and go to law school.
At Yale Law School, I was intrigued by the intersections of international law, international norms, and economic and social rights, and I wrote a paper for a class entitled “Rights and Risk Factors: A Role for the SEC in Social Disclosure.” I continued my exploration of different international issues, participating in legal and policy projects that took me to India, The Gambia, Nigeria, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, and Sierra Leone. Then I graduated and started my biggest adventure: navigating a legal career and parenthood.
I became a mom two years after graduation, had my second child four years later, and adopted my dog Sophie in between. Along the way, I found myself a single parent, and I was very lucky to find two supportive career “homes” that allowed me to weave my international interests into more traditional legal paths: a law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, and the Securities & Exchange Commission’s Office of International Affairs.
My journey took some twists and turns in the last 20 years, and now I can look back and see how it was all part of The Great Curve leading to Persefoni. In my last few years at the SEC Office of International Affairs, I was able to collaborate with colleagues around the world on ways to improve climate and sustainability disclosures! If only I had known what I know now when I wrote that law school paper…
2. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. (What do you do at Persefoni?)
My formal role at Persefoni is to “advise internal and external stakeholders on global regulatory developments related to climate disclosures” - the rules of the road, especially as new regulations are launched around the globe. But just like driving, we also have to be aware of all the other factors shaping the conditions around us. There are many market forces driving the need for carbon accounting and inspiring decarbonization efforts. I Found a Job where I get to have my eyes and ears open to learning every day, try to make sense of it all, and then do my best to help Persefoni and its customers navigate the road ahead.
3. And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" (What are your hopes for your time at Persefoni?)
Global markets are on a road to a lower-carbon economy, and Persefoni has a tremendous opportunity to help accelerate global decarbonization efforts. Persefoni's technology enables action by making carbon accounting more efficient, reliable, and accessible. I hope to use my time at Persefoni to raise awareness about technology tools, build market capacity, and foster market trust. Trustworthy data is the foundation for both investor decisions and company actions; without it, we risk being on a Road to Nowhere.
4. And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?"(Why is Persefoni a great home for you?)
Moving from the government to a software company was a big leap! I knew This Must be the Place when I listened to the ClimateTech podcast hosted by our CEO, Kentaro Kawamori, focusing on showcasing the contributions of others to the collective endeavor of addressing the climate challenge. Capitalism and competition drive innovation, but collaboration drives the scaling of the innovations and tools the world needs to tackle these issues. This is Persefoni’s core philosophy, and it aligns with my personal values. Choosing Persefoni as my next career home was not just joining one company, but joining a broader community of professionals across a wide range of sectors working collaboratively to address the climate challenge.
5. And you may find yourself in another part of the world...(Tell us about your life/hobbies away from work?)
I’ve been running for “fun” since I was 8, and while I loved playing basketball and soccer, once I acknowledged that my athletic skills were not in eye-hand coordination or lateral movement, running became my sport. I still try to do races here and there and occasionally chase age-appropriate goals. Running is the space where I think, and where I let myself stop thinking. My favorite place is the C&O trail along the Potomac River - I try to get there at least once a week. Take Me to the River is on my pre-run playlist.
Luckily my son and daughter were gifted athletic skills that are more suited to basketball, and over the years, I have spent a lot of weekends sitting in bleachers. I wanted both my kids to experience excitement about women’s sports the way I experienced the excitement that Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols brought to Knoxville, so we are lifelong Washington Mystics fans and attend lots of WNBA games. I’m hoping to take them to the Women’s World Cup next year to experience firsthand the world coming together to celebrate women in sports.
I still enjoy seeking out the spectacular nature the world has to offer, but my focus now is on exploring local parks and taking short, slow walks with my 17-year-old dog. She has taught me to appreciate the amazing nature in my own backyard right here in D.C. It is the nature we most take for granted that needs the most protection.
“Once in a Lifetime" is a series of articles designed to help our customers and partners learn more about Persefoni's truly passionate team. We're not just building award-winning software ... together, we're helping to decarbonize our planet.