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Kristel Riddervold, City of Charlottesville

Kristel Riddervold, Environmental Administrator

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

I have Belgian parents who came to the US for graduate school, moved over to Lebanon to teach for a while (where I was born) and then came back to the US. I’ve been a Virginian since I was two.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

I came as a student to UVA in 1988 and have never found a sufficiently compelling reason to move.

What neighborhood do you live in now?

I live in Albemarle, south of North Garden, as you head to the mountains and pass the redbuds and apple trees.

Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?

I am married to an amazing naturalist and have two girls…add in some pets and the occasional bird or snake that makes its way into the house and we have a constantly shifting number of creatures at home.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

I am a double-grad from UVA (’92 and ’95, Environmental Sciences) – Wahoowa!

What were you doing before you came to work for the City?

After graduating, I worked for an environmental consulting firm headquartered in Charlottesville that did a majority of its work with Department of Defense facilities.  It was a great way to transition from a focus on the science and theory of graduate school to identifying solutions and making recommendations.  My current job takes that a step further when we act on and implement strategies to pursue sustainability.

Your job title is Environmental Administrator – what, in your own words, would you say you do?

I, with my staff, support programs and operations that have an important regulatory aspect to them.  We work to add environmental value and perspective to projects and programs lead by other city divisions and departments.  We also participate in initiatives that involve the community and appreciate the insight and feedback on topics ranging from energy efficiency to water quality to environmental restoration and innovation.  We serve in a community that is very engaged and informed, and welcome the new ideas and challenges that are brought forward.

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?

When I started with the City 10 years ago, there were very few environmental professionals employed by local government in Virginia.  Since then, Charlottesville has become a leader in the realm of environmental stewardship and sustainability.  It’s been a great place to stay on the edge of these subjects, to be in an on-going learning mode, and to work with colleagues who strive together to carry out A Green City Vision.   The hardest part is being on top of all the aspects of environmental management.  The fact is – so many issues have an environmental, if not a sustainability, angle and I want to be able to offer them all focused attention.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?

Probably the most important part is keeping the City in compliance with federal and state environmental regulations (stormwater, waste, fuel storage, etc.).  A healthy urban environment is a key part of the clean and safe community.

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?

Being part of the Meadow Creek Stream Restoration Project has been an unbelievable experience with respect to the transformation of a stream that was drastically impacted to stream corridor designed and managed for long term improvement and stability and the commitment to permanent conservation of a natural area in the City.

What is a little-known fact about you?

I love live music, nearly any kind. My father obsessively played music at home, with an affinity for the baroque style and Gregorian chants intermixed with international music he picked up during his travels and the tunes of Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie.  I played oboe in the Charlottesville University Symphony Orchestra for many years while falling in love with bluegrass and folk music.  Time stands still when music is being played.

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?

Outside is the key word….and opportunity is the other.  I don’t have a single hobby.  Life outside of work hours is largely influenced by what’s going on with kids, the big gardens we manage at home, the call to go play and explore outside, and the intrigue of going somewhere I’ve never been.