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2022 Candidate Kat Superfisky

kat superfiskyKat Superfisky
Urban Ecologist
City of Los Angeles

Candidate for: Member of the Board of Professional Certification

Kat Superfisky is an urban ecologist, designer and educator who devotes their days, nights and dreams to transforming urban areas into more habitable places for people, plants and other animals. After obtaining a Master of Landscape Architecture, Master of Science in Conservation Ecology and Teaching Certificate from the University of Michigan in 2013, Superfisky moved 2,300 miles across the country for the Los Angeles (LA) River. Superfisky sees LA—and its river—as the perfect laboratory to explore how to redesign urban areas into more “symbiotic cities”.

Prior to moving to LA, Superfisky planned, implemented and helped oversee ecosystem management efforts for 24,000 acres of parkland in Metropolitan Detroit, and also worked for the University of Michigan developing an experiential environmental education program aimed at teaching middle, high school and college students about sustainability in the built environment. In LA, Superfisky spearheaded ecological planning and design efforts as an Associate/Urban Ecologist at Studio-MLA (a landscape architecture and urban design firm), founded Grown in LA (a nonprofit helping to increase the local production of climate-appropriate plants for public projects, while providing Angelenos with educational and workforce development opportunities) and is currently helping to manage LA’s urban ecosystem by serving as the City of LA’s first Urban Ecologist.

Superfisky carries their practice and perspective of socio-ecological systems into the classroom, as well, teaching courses in ecology and design at institutions like California State Polytechnic University – Pomona, University of California – Los Angeles, University of Southern California, and the University of Michigan. Superfisky is a former Doris Duke Conservation Fellow and currently serves on the Board of Directors for both California ReLeaf and City Plants (nonprofits that are addressing the urban forest in California and LA) and on the Expert Council and Interdepartmental Working Group for the creation of LA’s Biodiversity Index.

What interests, experience or skills would you bring to this position?

Understanding that many environmental challenges stem from human development, my career is focused on managing ecosystems in suburban and urban contexts to better balance development with the need for plants, animals and ecological processes to also exist in these areas. As an urban ecologist, I employ a socio-ecological approach to managing ecosystems, which entails integrating my training and expertise in ecology with the social, economic and political systems that are inherently linked to the environmental systems in cities. My experience in landscape architecture and planning further enhance my ability to understand how to connect other disciplines with ecology, and my experience working in the private, public, nonprofit and academic sectors provides me with a realistic understanding of the problems and possibilities associated with addressing conservation goals in developed parts of the planet, and how ecologists can work within various sectors to achieve such aims.

How would you support ESA’s mission? How would you plan to promote DEIJ in ESA membership and activities if elected?

As a queer, gender neutral human living in an EPA designated “Disadvantaged Community” in the second largest city in the US (Los Angeles, California), I look forward to sharing my perspectives and experiences to help expand ESA’s membership and certifications, especially among “nontraditional” ecologists.

ESA aims to “advance the science and practice of ecology and support ecologists throughout their careers”, and I aim to increase the number and diversity of people being supported. I was initially hesitant to apply to be certified since I was working as an urban ecologist in a landscape architecture firm at the time, and was uncertain as to whether my experience would be seen as credible/sufficient or “science-y” enough. It would be extremely rewarding to work as part of the Board of Professional Certification to ensure that the requirements for certification are increasingly inclusive of various sectors and experiences, and accessible to all individuals.

If elected, I will work with others at ESA to assess where current Members and Certified Ecologists are geographically located and what sectors they are working in, and help catalyze outreach strategies to increase awareness of the Association and Certification to locations, sectors and people that are currently underrepresented.