The Value of Institutional Knowledge

As a West Coast Sea Grant fellow I work on a wide variety of projects for two agencies (DLCD and ODFW) and the Office of Governor Kitzhaber. I’ve had to rely on a number of resources in order to get (and stay) up to speed on the diverse array of state and national ocean policy issues. One of the most valuable resources has been the wealth of institutional knowledge provided by former Sea Grant fellows. Todd Hallenbeck was a Sea Grant fellow from 2011-2013 and was my predecessor. He worked with the Governor’s Office to support the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health (WCGA), particularly in the realm of providing regional data management and decision support tools. Since Todd’s fellowship ended, I was curious about how it prepared him for the work he’s currently doing as a project manager for the WCGA’s West Coast Ocean Data Portal. Todd was awesome enough to answer a few questions and share a little bit about his current work, since the completion of his fellowship.

How did your background tie into the work you did during your fellowship?

Nothing could really prepare me for the wide variety of tasks that I was responsible for during my fellowship. I really had no experience in the policy realm that I found myself in. My background in GIS certainly helped me understand the issues involved with sharing and using data, but that work also exposed me to a whole new world of web GIS. I would say that my desire to see best available information and geospatial data used in the policy context of marine planning helped ground my background in the fellowship work. Both in the Oregon marine planning process as well as the Regional Data sharing work, it was all driven by my firm belief that when you have access the right data and tools, you can make the right decisions that have the most benefit to society.

What was your favorite part of your fellowship?

I really enjoyed working with a wide range of people both in Oregon and across the country. The work exposed me to folks from all over who were working in completely different capacities, from fisherman to data managers to biologists. Yet despite all these seemingly differing perspectives, everyone that I worked with shared that same desire to see the oceans protected and managed sustainably.

Now that your fellowship is done, what is your current position?

I started my own business, Sustainable Ocean Solutions LLC, and am providing project management and data networking consultation to the West Coast Ocean Data Portal Project. It’s a little isolating working from home but I get to maintain contact with a variety of steering committees, working groups, and contractor staff so I never feel like I’m working on this project alone. Also it means I get to live in the San Francisco Bay area, where my family is from.

Since you got an awesome job opportunity in another part of the country—what was your favorite part about living and working in Oregon?

I truly loved living in Portland. It really is a unique city that has so much to offer. The music, the comedy, the food, the biking. I really found a place and a community there that was a big part of why I was so sad to leave. I also found myself out at the coast very often. The rugged and rocky nature of the Oregon coast is unlike anything I had ever seen. I really liked surfing and hiking amongst the coves and headlands. I will miss Oregon and hope to visit it often.

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One thought on “The Value of Institutional Knowledge

  1. Kelsey, thank you for this great interview. It’s a nice perspective from a former follow, by a current fellow. And wonderful to see Todd appear on this blog, and follow his awesome career path. Best wishes to you both!

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