Granting environmental progress

I was recently interviewed by Jesse Schaeffer ’12, Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Associate at Washington College and fellow WAC ’12 alum, about my position at Town Creek and my experience at Washington College.  Below is the great story she put together!  Click here to learn more about Washington College.

Granting environmental progress

MMilliken WACAt Washington College, Megan Milliken ’12 developed a comprehensive view of environmental issues. Now in her role at the Town Creek Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation based in Easton, Megan uses this perspective to make grants to nonprofit organizations and support initiatives across the State in an effort to achieve Maryland’s loftiest environmental goals.

“I love the thought that we put into our work…Our grantees are accomplishing so much here in Maryland and it’s such a rewarding position to be in.” Megan cites a recent grant to support a project through the Friends of Frederick County that deployed a mobile app to empower citizen-led enforcement of environmental laws; the app permits citizens to submit photos and information about potential land use violations impacting local water quality.

Megan joins Town Creek at a critical point in the foundation’s history. In the fall of 2010, Town Creek’s Board of Trustees made the decision to ‘sunset’ the organization, believing that “the urgency of the challenges and the promise of the opportunities is such as to warrant a full commitment” of the Foundation’s resources. Trustees pointed to the evolution of Maryland’s efforts to restore the Bay and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as evidence that a “special window of opportunity” had emerged in which they could make “substantial progress” toward State goals. In accordance with this decision, the pace of the Foundation’s grantmaking has accelerated with aims to exhaust the endowment sometime around 2021. Just last year, the Town Creek Foundation awarded 77 grants, totaling $5,340,600.

As Megan and her colleagues carry out this vision, administering grants to support existing State initiatives while promoting work that responds to questions about the fundamental sustainability of existing social systems, Megan has both the opportunity and the responsibility to retain a comprehensive view of the environmental work being conducted in Maryland. Megan reviews proposals and reports; attends committee hearings and tracks legislative bills with environmental impact; researches and reports on innovative initiatives in the Foundation’s blog; and at every turn, does her part to connect like-initiatives and build coalitions in the environmental community.

Throughout this work, Megan cannot help but be reminded of the tenet underscored in her undergraduate experience, the interconnectedness of the environment. “I often wonder: if I didn’t go to WC, would I be in the same position I am in now? I got such hands-on experience in the environmental program and working with Dr. Munson, my advisor. [He taught me that] there is more to the environment than just the Chesapeake Bay. It is important to keep that in mind and to put your work in perspective.”

Megan graduated from Washington College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Chesapeake Regional Studies, receiving honors on her thesis entitled “The Taxonomic Recognition of Eubalaena japonica, the North Pacific Right Whale, and the Decisional Implications on the Recovery of the Species.” Before joining the team at the Town Creek Foundation, Megan interned in both the nonprofit and government sectors, having worked most recently with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Protected Resource – Endangered Species Division.  While at NOAA, she conducted literary searches for recovery plans and completed the first draft of the Fin Whale Five-Year Review. Megan also worked as a legislative intern for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.