Local Climate Change Preparedness

February 16, 2021

This virtual Climate Speaker Series event was held on February 10, 2021.

In conversation with
Kara Runsten, John Bolduc, and Laurel Schwab

This panel discussion with three local and state climate leaders includes an overview of the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program and the efforts of Watertown and Cambridge to conduct vulnerability assessments and implement climate change preparedness and resiliency plans. Panelists also discuss the role of the urban forest and green infrastructure in addressing heat and flood risks.


Kara Runsten is the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Manager at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, where she administers the MVP grant program that provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts in planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects. Kara has experience working in the government, consulting, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors. She holds a B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University and a Master in City Planning from MIT.

John Bolduc is an environmental planner with the City of Cambridge Community Development Department where he manages climate change initiatives. He manages the City’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and the Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Plan; coordinates the Climate Protection Action Committee, an advisory group to the City Manager on local climate change policy and implementation; administers the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance; and participates in a range of other municipal sustainability efforts. John has been with the City of Cambridge since 1997 and has over 30 years of experience in municipal sustainability and environmental protection. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Arts from Tufts University in Urban and Environmental Policy.

Laurel Schwab is the Senior Environmental Planner and Conservation Agent for the Town of Watertown. Having been with Watertown since September 2019, she has led the Town through its MVP planning grant process in 2020 and will lead the Town’s “Resilient Watertown” Climate and Energy Plan process in the coming months. Laurel has spent the last decade working on sustainability, climate change, and community development in a variety of public and private roles. She has experience in formulating plans with an eye towards implementation, having worked as a consultant for communities eager for quick action on pressing issues. Laurel has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from New York University and a Master in Urban Planning degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

About the Massachusetts MVP Program

The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program (MVP) provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and implementing priority projects. The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Communities who complete the MVP program become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action grant funding and other opportunities.

About the Climate Speaker Series

Mount Auburn Cemetery’s Climate Speaker Series provides a platform for local researchers, academics, public officials, business and non-profit leaders, and volunteer organizations to share with the public their work to investigate, mitigate, and adapt to the threats of our warming climate.

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Funding for this program was provided in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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