Sierra Gladfelter holds a Master’s degree in Geography and a Certificate in Development Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Temple University, Sierra worked for several years at the Schuylkill Headwaters Association, a small watershed nonprofit organization serving communities impacted by abandoned mine drainage in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains. It was this experience working closely with rural communities in the heart of coal country that led her to pursue a career engaged in applied research and tangible work on community relations to water resources internationally.
As the recipient of both a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2014-2017) and a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Fellowship (2017-2018), Sierra spent the next four years studying the impacts of climate change on water resources in vulnerable communities across the developing world. Particularly drawn to South Asia and the Himalayan region since studying abroad with the School for International Training in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2011, Sierra examined a set of interventions to mitigate the impacts of flooding in island communities along the Karnali River in southwestern Nepal for her Master’s thesis. She then spent one-year in India on a Fulbright fellowship continuing to do applied research that productively engages development and humanitarian organizations in critically examining and improving their interventions to assist communities in adapting to and coping with climate-exacerbated floods and droughts. Sierra also has applied experience outside of academia studying climate change, resilience, and the uneven process of recovery from climate-induced disasters along rivers in Zambia and the United States with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition (ISET)-International.
Sierra currently works as a consultant and project manager for the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation at the University of Virginia on The Resilience Adaptation Feasibility Tool (RAFT). In this role, Sierra leads an interdisciplinary team representing three universities to deliver an 18-month facilitated engagement process to build the resilience of rural communities across coastal and riverine Virginia. More information on Sierra’s work on The RAFT and its impacts in communities, including how this community-driven process is serving historically excluded and underserved citizens, is highlighted in a recent article in Envision Magazine.
Download a copy of Sierra’s current CV.