Ambassador Profile: Kate Larramendy, Design and Sustainability Director at Toad&Co

Conservation Alliance Ambassadors are key influencers and leaders in the outdoor industry, and they serve as a conduit for spreading the word about Conservation Alliance programs and grantee activities within their respective companies.  They volunteer their time, going above and beyond the duties of their full-time jobs at member companies.  Our ambassadors are passionate outdoor enthusiasts, and exceptional people. 
Today, we’d like you to meet Kate Larramendy, Design & Sustainability Director at Toad&Co in Santa Barbara, CA. She has been an active volunteer for The Conservation Alliance since Toad&Co (formerly Horny Toad) joined in 2005. 
What made you want to be an Ambassador for The Conservation Alliance? 
The work of the Conservation Alliance is profoundly important to the health of the outdoor industry. Selfishly, that is how I’ve supported myself my entire adult life. The viability and future of wild and even, not-so-wild places means we will continue to have these places outdoors to go. We need to protect the places we love and provide the hope and possibility that people coming after us will also be able to experience them. As an ambassador I am learning to be a more effective activist and can bring it back to the office to get others fired up.
What local conservation projects are you involved in?
About 15 years ago a group of locals caught wind of backroom dealings to approve a major development in the hills that are the backdrop to Ventura. We were appalled by what this would mean for traffic, sprawl and loss of open space and habitat. This was my first hands-on experience helping to start a grass-roots movement. From there it got political and after defeating a ballot measure we were able to shift the focus to conservation efforts by forming a land trust. I learned a lot about fundraising – sadly, so much of conservation comes down to money. The upside is I know how to produce a concert.
Where would you like to see The Alliance in another 25 years from now?
I think the political arena is where much of the future of conservation lies and I’m impressed by how powerfully The Conservation Alliance has moved into that area. I have been lucky to join a couple of the lobbying trips to Washington, D.C. What a fascinating, convoluted and bizarre world. But it is the reality for getting anything done. I’m clear that you don’t go there to change the system, you go to learn to work the system. Continuing to leverage the growth and health the outdoor industry has on the national economy is the future. It comes down to numbers. Money talks. Well, we can keep working those numbers.
What areas of conservation are you most passionate about?
I live on the ocean so clean water, through the entire system, from the source to the sea is very important to me. Habitat preservation for all creatures, even humans, is critical. Alaska fascinates me. The idea of it is fantasy because I haven’t actually spent any real time there. I love knowing such an utterly vast, expansive and for the most part, still pristine, place exists. I take great comfort in the idea of it and will join and support any efforts to keep it that way. I will be there soon.
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We protect the places we love. It all starts there. There is tremendous power in that simple principle. The Conservation Alliance is an effective and growing network of people doing just that.