Allow me to introduce Hailey Gilmore, a recent graduate of The Conservation Alliance’s Conservation Leadership Institute (CLI).
I caught up with her last week to hear about life post CLI and share a bit of her personal story. Our Alumni network is teaming with local activists and folks dedicated to improving our community and beyond. We’re grateful to share their experiences with you.
Gilmore is the Operations Manager at Hole Food Rescue, a phenomenal non-profit organization with the mission of reducing food waste and cultivating food security in Teton County. She oversees the daily operations of the food room, builds relationships with community partners, as well as the distribution of rescued food to locals. Coordinating volunteers and ensuring resources reach families involved in their programs, Gilmore demonstrates leadership that has a direct, positive impact on Teton County residents.
Growing up watching her mother raise goats and make cheese, Hailey cultivated an interest in farming, a vocation at the intersection of 2 passions: food and the environment. “I’ve worked at just about every type of farming operation” She says about her past work experience. On the other side of a spectrum, with a masters in Environmental Law and Policy she’s also worked as a paralegal for the State of Vermont, her home prior to moving West.
Like so many of us, she found her way to Jackson Hole from the East Coast following the snow. Moving in 2019, she began coaching for JH Ski Club, with plans of staying for at least a season, maybe a year… 3+ years later Hailey and pup Colby have completely embedded themselves in this growing mountain town. With a rich background in Agriculture and Environmentalism, her residence here serves to benefit us all.
As an environmentally conscious active individual Gilmore’s interest in CLI comes as no big surprise. She enrolled in the program hoping to better understand local issues and to meet people who share her interest in civic leadership. “I Would like to petition for the “C” in CLI to be changed to “Community” because I feel that’s something I gained the most and also, I learned is the most important part of any political or activism scene. Having that community, having those ties and using it to your advantage” Gilmore reflected. The course projects were built around the long list of Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) initiatives that appeared on the November ‘22 ballot.
Hailey, along with several classmates focused their research and leadership practice on SPET #11: An Energy Conservation Works (ECW) campaign for $5 million in funding for solar electric projects, alternative fuel programs, energy audits and other work aimed at creating ways to produce and conserve energy. Her group pursued creative ways to boost ECW’s effort to pass SPET #11 and were ultimately successful. When asked about her assigned initiative she admitted, based on her personal interests and past work, “Initially there were other SPET issues I would have chosen to focus on over #11… I’m passionate about the housing difficulties we face here, as I’ve moved 8 times in the last 3 years” (SPET #12 addressed funding for community housing). However, after diving headfirst into solar energy and alternative fuel programs, she’s glad to have expanded her knowledge of a once foreign topic. She looks forward to seeing how their advocacy efforts manifest in tangible ways that further serve Teton County.
When asked about what her future holds, Gilmore pauses before giving an answer I’ve given myself to the same question. “Without access to long-term, stable housing it’s difficult to see myself staying in Jackson forever. We have the potential to set the precedent for other mountain towns like our own. With unique resources and opportunities, we can set an example to be a leader for a more sustainable town that balances the beautiful natural resources we moved here for, while also providing housing for those who make this town worth living in.” Between her work at Hole Food Rescue and a dedication to building a strong, forward-thinking community, it’s difficult to face the reality that someone like Hailey feels powerless against the shortage of affordable housing here and may have to relocate. At the same time, it’s a reminder that we do have smart and motivated people like her for whom this issue is top of mind and hopefully, through a group effort, we can make positive change.
Thanks to Hailey, we’re glad to have her in our network and working to improve our community.