Meet Evan Ross
As Amherst transitions to its first Town Council, voters have a unique opportunity to build a Council that represents all voices and perspectives in Amherst. Evan brings several important perspectives to town government:
- MILLENNIAL: Two thirds of Amherst residents are between the ages of 18 and 35, and an effective government needs to include representation across generations. Evan will bring the perspective and experiences of the Millennial generation to Town Council.
- RENTER: 54% of Amherst households are renters, and it is important that renters are represented on Town Council. Evan has been a renter in Amherst since 2011, and has grappled with Amherst's difficult rental market.
- UMASS: Amherst's three colleges are sources of opportunity and of challenges. Relationships between student and non-student residents define many of these challenges. As a former UMass student, current faculty, and Amherst resident, Evan is a bridge between the student and non-student populations in Amherst.
- LGBT: The Pioneer Valley has a number of diverse and close-knit communities whose voices should have representation in government. As an openly gay man, Evan will bring to the Council the perspectives of his lived experience and his belief that local government should work to ensure all communities feel safe in their town.
Evan moved to Amherst in 2011 to pursue graduate school at UMass in the Department of Environmental Conservation. As a trained environmental scientist, Evan focused his research on the impacts of climate change and land use on water resources. Driven by a concern over the effects of climate change, he sought to generate new information that water managers could use to protect water resources in a new era of changing climate.
After completing his graduate education, Evan accepted a full time faculty position training science students to hone their communication skills. His goal is to produce future scientists who can translate technical scientific information into a language regular folks can understand, and to encourage scientists to engage in the public discourse over environmental issues. His belief is that scientists have a responsibility to use their expertise for the public good, and that requires the ability to communicate science to the public in an easy-to-understand manner.
Before moving to Amherst Evan worked in Providence, RI, at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. There, he led the Department's aquatic invasive species project, transforming it from a series of ad hoc activities into a strategic and coordinated campaign to identify and manage environmental pests. This experience shaped Evan's view of public service. He became an intermediary between the Department and the public. Evan reached out to private citizens and community groups, sat in on local meetings, and organized and attended public forums. In each, he listened attentively to the public's concerns and worked to find viable solutions. His primary objective was identifying the various stakeholders impacted by the problem and working with them to tackle it. Evan's accessibility to the public and his outreach to communities earned him the trust and confidence of the public, and under his project leadership he helped mend a strained relationship between the Department and the community.
Evan knows no one person or organization can solve a problem. At the Department Evan forged partnerships with other organizations, including the University of Rhode Island, small nonprofits, and local citizen groups. He brought as many people as he could into the project, drawing on everyone's individual strengths to work collaboratively. Together, they crafted action plans, planned events, and developed citizen science programs.
At the Department he also gained regulatory experience working on permitting for aquatic herbicides. Evan developed a new database for permits, making the process more organized and efficient. And he helped write new environmental legislation later passed by the Rhode Island state legislature. His work in state government-- from collaborative problem solving, to working with stakeholders, to engaging in the nitty gritty permitting and regulatory work of government-- equipped him to effectively serve on Amherst Town Council.
Evan believes that scientists cannot stay out of politics. It was his concerns over climate change that drew him to the candidacy of Ed Markey for US Senate in 2013, and he quickly became one of the top organizers for the campaign in Amherst. Evan logged countless volunteer hours knocking doors in every part of Amherst to elect a strong pro-environment candidate to the US Senate. He's also volunteered to elect other Democratic candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama. He often says he knows every neighborhood in Amherst just from knocking doors.
Evan was elected as an Amherst delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Conventions in 2014 and 2018 to support progressive state-wide candidates on the ballot. After volunteering for a number of campaigns, Evan is now launching his first-ever run for elected office.