Nevada EcoNet has a new leader

Kris Hansen


Kris Hansen is the new executive director of Nevada EcoNet. Having taken his post in January, he already has his sights on Earth Day and the development of what’s been voted in this paper as Reno’s best nonprofit organization.

Tell me a bit about your background.

I’ve always felt like an environmentalist and always attracted to the natural environment. I grew up in a rural setting. I’ve been a teacher for the past five years. … At the college level, I teach philosophy, religion and literature. I ended up joining the graduate program at UNR called Literature and the Environment. That program really turned me on to the environment, proper. I found the themes of sustainability and the literature of sustainability immediately compelling—about sustaining our vitality and quality of life for ourselves and our future. … I’ve been aligned with Nevada EcoNet and the environment for several years. I’ve tried to build skills that would make me a good director. For example, in the past, I’ve focused on program management, project direction, organization of events related to environmental or sustainability topics. My main focus has been on climate change. … I worked on a program that delivered CFL lights to citizens. I live in Truckee, so that was in Truckee—called the Summer Light Switch. And of course, by virtue of that, educated them on it and energy conservation and encouraged people to take part. … The other things I’ve done with climate change is a Focus the Nation conference at UNR. It was a national initiative that I organized a small part of. … I always try to keep the idea that the community is going to care about the things that are affecting them directly and that are really specific to their locale.

EcoNet is a new location now, right?

Yes, we are in the West Street Market, which might be important to note is the city of Reno’s green redevelopment program. They made it a model for waste management. It’s also attracted tenants that are interested in reducing their business impact, including us, who’re going to help with that whole process.

What are you working on now?

Earth Day is going to be our central focus through the event. Let me speak generally about EcoNet and what we do throughout the year. EcoNet has Earth Day, the Uncorked Organic Wine Tasting and the Golden Pinecone Awards as the three main events we host throughout the year. Earth Day is a community sponsored event, we have the organizing capacity for that event, and I’m very proud to be working on that because it’s really a facilitating role, and that’s really neat to watch happen. The other two events are really more like fundraisers. The Golden Pinecone Awards is recognizing environmental leadership throughout the Northern Nevada region, and then we organize the ceremony and dinner that goes with it.

Can you foresee changes with the organization now that you’re there?

Yeah, one thing I can see happening is a more continuous type of programming where we become an educational resource. Maybe with workshops or something of that nature so we’re a constant source of support and movement of information regarding these really important sustainability discourses. So rather than peppered throughout the year with three events, maybe maintain a more stable foundation, probably using the capacity of the West St. Market. … Earth Day, specifically becomes a great mechanism for that—encouraging recognition that we’re part of a community and need to take care of each other. … In addition to the complete fun of music and food, Earth Day is about educating about sustainable principles. … [It’s] about hands-on and informative learning and about our responsibility to make that happen. I’m personally interested in discussing this with anyone who wants to participate in Earth Day or sponsor Earth Day. That’s where I’m going to be for the next couple of months. … We’re working toward strategic development of this organization to become the primary environmental resource for Northern Nevada. My interest in this is a long-term relationship to help make this region more vital and sustainable.