Events & Media

Ashley Conrad-Saydah is Bren's first Alum to Be Named Keynote Speaker

This year, the Bren School is hosting its first alumna (or alumnus, for that matter) as its Commencement keynote speaker. Ashley Conrad-Saydah (MESM 2008) was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as Deputy Secretary for Climate Policy at the California Environmental Protection Agency in April 2012.


Ashley Conrad-Saydah

Ashley earned her Master of Environmental Science and Management degree from the Bren School in 2008, and is the first Bren School graduate to deliver the commencement keynote address.

While attending the Bren School, Ashley earned a Presidential Management Fellowship, which put her on the path to public-policy work. As part of her fellowship, she served as California’s Renewable Energy Program Manager for the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In that position, she helped to establish and advance key state-federal partnerships; engaged stakeholders in determining the best places for the development of utility-scale solar, wind, and transmission; and drafted and instituted national monitoring and mitigation policies for renewable-energy development on public lands.

While pursuing her MESM degree at the Bren School from 2006 to 2008, Ashley earned a prestigious Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship and worked as a research assistant for UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). From 2001 to 2006, she managed Careers in Science, a work-based youth development program at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The ultimate interdisciplinary professional, Ashley studied science  as an undergraduate at Princeton University, pursued the Conservation Planning specialization at the Bren School, and in her professional life since then, has assumed extensive and varied responsibilities that require her to span multiple disciplines. She has worked extensively with on renewable-energy siting, permitting, and transmission issues; geospatial data analysis for wind and solar applications; and long-term renewable energy and climate policy in California.

Ashley is married to her former Bren School classmate, Evan Johnson (MESM 2008).