While Environmental Program Manager Robb Fishman is not a Houston native, the people and culture make it feel like home. Over the years, Robb has worked on many resiliency and sustainability projects and is excited for the future of the region. We sat down with Robb to talk about resiliency, climate response and community.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career with Jacobs?
In my current role at Jacobs, I serve as the environmental program manager for the south-central region of the U.S. (Texas and Oklahoma) and the Solutions & Technology regional solutions leader for the southern U.S. I also recruit for the transportation and environmental practices, mentor interns and young professionals and manage projects.
I joined Jacobs as an environmental program manager more than a decade ago and have been able to further develop my expertise in various aspects of the environmental planning practice. My responsibilities include managing, supervising, preparing and reviewing environmental documents, coordinating with state and federal regulatory agencies and appearing at public forums, including public meetings and hearings. My 35+ years of environmental documentation support and regulatory compliance efforts include numerous environmental, transportation, water, energy and power, built environment and federal planning projects. This support also includes eight Environmental Impact Statements in the South Texas region that resulted in a Record of Decision as the project manager of record.
Over the years, I’ve used my knowledge of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA, and the environmental guidelines and procedures established by multiple federal agencies.
I’m currently active in the American Institute of Certified Planners and the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals, which establishes a forum to discuss important environmental issues, among others. I also sit on the board of directors for the North Houston Association, whose mission is to connect, influence and educate members with opportunities in transportation, water, environment and building.
How and when did you first get involved with environmental work? What attracted you to the field?
The great outdoors has always been a passion of mine. While attending Humboldt State University in California, I worked for the U.S. Forest Service’s timber department and had the chance to work in the Inyo National Forest and eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. I gained valuable sustainability experience working with wildlife biologists, range specialists conducting wild horse surveys, fire suppression practices, timber stand exams and NEPA studies. I applied for a position with Computer Science Corporation at Edwards Air Force Base in California, to help build a program focused on natural resources, cultural resources and NEPA to support the needs of the U.S. Air Force. Thus, my NEPA and environmental planning career began!
You get to work a lot with local industry and other stakeholders to increase the resiliency of the local Houston area. What is your biggest takeaway from that experience?
We can look holistically at the stresses and shocks that our community faces and work together to implement creative solutions, often nature-based. These solutions can help the communities adapt and thrive in a responsible manner even under the most challenging conditions, such as climate change, aging infrastructure and the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.
What do you like best about living and working in the Houston area?
The people I work with every day and the southern hospitality of the region. Houston, when it comes to humidity and heat in the summer, isn’t the most welcoming place. Still, with a little air conditioning and the people, it has become my home. I also can’t ignore the diversity of Houston’s people and the food each culture offers.
What part of your work gives you the most hope for the future?
Being able to mentor young professionals on environmental planning and help them develop future goals and objectives. My mentoring relationships include Jacobs colleagues but, in many cases, I have developed strong relationships with our various clients and shared my experiences with them.
What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs team?
I enjoy the ability to work with a socially conscious and diverse group of people in a proactive way to make a portion of our world a better place! Sometimes I even spend more time with my work team than with my traditional family! I try to take the time to welcome everyone, at work and at home.
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