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Meet Natalia Arias of the CLEO Institute

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalia Arias.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in communications and worked in different public relations firms for six years. My educational background is not related to science, environmental issues nor climate change. However, I greatly enjoy attending conferences and watching documentaries. As I started to learn about the climate crisis that is unfolding across the world, I realized that was a much more serious issue than they type of work I was doing for lifestyle and entertainment brands. I wanted to contribute to society in a meaningful manner. Therefore, I made the decision to change careers. My current role as Director of Programs with the CLEO Institute has been the most eye-opening and rewarding experience of my life. Our changing climate is impacting every one of us on a daily basis. From rising seas, heat waves, and stronger hurricanes, to health complications such as more asthma attacks, our livelihoods are at risk. I work hard every day to put together events for the general public to educate people on the causes, impacts, and solutions to climate change.

Has it been a smooth road?
It took a really long time for me to make this happen. I have emails saved from 2010 of me reaching out to friends and colleagues sharing that I wanted to transition from the public relations field to environmental work. It wasn’t until 2015 that I was given my first shot by another nonprofit organization working to educate K-12 students about water conservation and energy efficiency. While I spent all those years trying to get on this new path, I also had a rough time on a personal level because I had some family members that were not too supportive. They questioned me on how would I make money out of working for the environment. Today, I can happily share that everything has turned out amazing. I am proud of the work that I do. In addition to acquiring knowledge on climate science, I have learned so much about civic engagement, how the government works, and have engaged with communities and made friends with people I would have never met otherwise. I have certainly gotten out of my comfort zone.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The CLEO Institute is the only 501(c)3 non-profit, nonpartisan organization based in Miami exclusively dedicated to climate change education and engagement. We are viewed as the go-to source for vetted climate science education backed by our Expert Advisory Council. Our expertise lies in simplifying complicated data for the general public to easily understand, and our reputation enables us to sit at the table with diverse segments of society to move the climate action agenda forward.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Florida is the most vulnerable state to climate change in the U.S. According to Climate Central, 20 of the 25 cities most vulnerable to coastal flooding are in Florida and Miami is #1. Yet, Florida is one of the slowest to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Greater Miami is ground zero for climate disruptions such as sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into our aquifer, yet too many people fail to recognize the urgency at play in our own backyards. Our residents need help to connect the dots between the causes and impacts of a rapidly changing climate, and that is where CLEO comes in. There is an urgent need to more effectively disseminate information and provide resources for residents to prepare.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Jorge Castillo Photography, and Eduardo Rodríguez

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