Martha Jane Murray: Working on Solutions to Climate Change

by Bill Paddack  on Monday, Mar. 29, 2010 12:00 am  

Artist. Architect. Designer. Teacher. Environmentalist. Wife. Mother. Advocate. Business leader. Communicator. Activist. Mentor.

Martha Jane Murray has worn - and continues to wear - a number of hats throughout her career, and, in each phase, she has made it a priority to shake things up a little, to ask, "What if?"

Perhaps her former boss and colleague at The Wilcox Group, Steve Kinzler, who is now president and COO of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Little Rock, puts it best when he simply says, "She gets involved. She doesn't just take other people's information; she puts it to the test. That gives her a lot of clout that she really does walk the talk."

That walk and that talk have certainly taken her down interesting paths through the years, from working as an architect to teaching architecture at Tulane University to her current position with the William J. Clinton Foundation Climate Initiative as the Arkansas liaison and program manager with the Arkansas governor's office.

Along the way, she became the first LEED-accredited professional in Arkansas, was the founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council's Arkansas Chapter and was one of five national core committee members who organized the national U.S. GBC GreenBuild 2005 response for the Katrina sustainable rebuilding effort. 

"What I am doing is not about me," Murray said. "Problem solving is most effective when you bring motivated, passionate and bright people together in an integrated team process. I love meeting people and finding out what makes them tick, then connecting them to other like-minded groups where I believe they can make a contribution.

"Over the last 10 years since I became focused on energy and environmental design, I have made friends all over the United States that have inspired and motivated me to do my part for environmental justice in the built environment. It is pure joy to encounter soul mates and to work together to improve the lives of people and the planet. Many of these mentors reside here in Arkansas and have been soldiering on since the '70s."

Stephanie S. Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation, said Murray's work with the Clinton Climate Initiative in Arkansas "is an exciting addition" to the work of the foundation.

"Martha Jane brings a wealth of experience from her work in New Orleans for the Clinton Climate Initiative to this work in Arkansas," Streett said. "Under Martha Jane's leadership, the foundation's climate initiative is working to assist the state in its efforts to retrofit state-owned buildings with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and energy costs.

"Through the initiative's Home Energy Assistance Loan [HEAL] project, Martha Jane and her team assist businesses in retrofitting their facilities to realize energy savings and then use some of those savings to assist the employees of these companies to make energy-saving improvements in their own homes," Streett said. "We are proud that the Clinton Foundation has this unique opportunity to bring some of the resources of one of our major global initiatives, the Clinton Climate Initiative, here to Arkansas."

Marc Harrison, a policy adviser to Gov. Mike Beebe, said, "She's been a great resource to bounce ideas off of, to bring in her expertise in both her previous work with the restoration of New Orleans post-Katrina as well as work that she's done with energy-efficient buildings and beyond that her program of HEAL. ... She truly gives. It's not for herself, but for others that need it. We've had a great working relationship. We're excited about the future and some of the projects that she's doing. She's a wonderful resource. It's amazing to me that she can switch gears so quickly; she can be talking buildings one moment and switch over to something totally different the next and never miss a beat."

Murray said she had found that "the integrated design process, promoted by green building design, is equally effective and rewarding" in program design.



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