This week, I Love A Clean San Diego recognizes our Executive Director, Pauline Martinson, as she celebrates her 10 year anniversary with the organization. In celebration of this milestone, we sat down with Pauline to get a better sense of what the last decade at ILACSD has meant to her.
Pauline joined I Love A Clean San Diego on August 22, 2005, after learning about an opening for an Environmental Educator position. She had a background in the environment with her degree from UC Santa Cruz, and had spent years honing her teaching skills as a Dive Instructor. As a kid growing up in Orange County, Pauline spent countless hours in the ocean. In fact, she still recalls an experience as a child where she dove under a wave and everything went black – her face had been covered by a black plastic bag. It was in that moment that she decided it was time to dedicate herself to preventing pollution and putting a stop to marine debris.
Instead of becoming an Educator with ILACSD, she was offered the position of Project Manager, and thus began her journey here. After less than a year in that role, the organization’s Executive Director moved on, and Pauline was tapped as his replacement. She still recalls the initial shock of stepping into role as Executive Director.
“It was Coastal Cleanup Day in 2006 and as Interim Executive Director, I was responsible for speaking during the press conference kick off. I remember stepping up to the podium and looking out into a huge crowd of people. I was scared and nervous to be in front of such a large group as the center of attention, but I was also humbled that so many people were there to lend a helping hand in support of our efforts”.
The shock didn’t end there. Back in 2006, the organization’s finances weren’t in the great shape that they are today, and taking over responsibility for getting the organization out of debt wasn’t a very glamorous undertaking. But, Pauline stepped up to the challenge, and has grown the organization’s total assets to more than $700,000.
Growth has been a consistent theme for the organization under Pauline’s tenure. Under her leadership, ILACSD has grown from 5 staff to 17 staff, which meant an office move back in 2010 to Liberty Station! While everyone was very excited about moving to a location with so many lunch options, it was bittersweet to say goodbye to our neighbors down the hall, San Diego River Park Foundation, and our beloved office cats.
That’s right…cats. The old office was somewhat of a magnet for feral cats and their litters of kittens. Staff meetings always ended with strategy sessions on how to catch, spay/neuter, and potentially adopt these cute little furballs. One of her funniest memories at ILACSD went something like this…
“There were five kittens that would play and sleep right under one of our staff members office window (see pic below). One day, she couldn’t take it anymore and decided that she was going to pick one of the kittens up and bring it in the office for a little visit. It didn’t go well, and the kitten immediately jumped out of her arms and ran through the office until it found a little corner to hide in. I was nominated to go in and get it, wearing work gloves. Eventually, poor little Junior was taken back outside, and no one in the office ever tried that again.”
From attending cleanups to dealing with rowdy cats, ILACSD is glad to have Pauline Martinson as the leader of our organization. Cheers to another decade of her leadership and enthusiasm to keeping San Diego clean!