Joe Krovoza: Living his environmental ideals at home, work

To satisfy his passion for natural resources conservation and desire to affect social change, campus development director Joe Krovoza once sought a career in environmental law.

Though he practiced water resources law in Sacramento for two years, Krovoza has ultimately found his environmental activist niche on the UC Davis campus and in the community.

Krovoza came to Davis in 1991 to attend law school after several years of working as a fund-raiser at Cal Tech and Stanford. His wife, Janet, found work as the assistant dean for development at UC Davis' School of En-gineering.

Krovoza turned down several offers to work on campus himself until UC Davis's Institute of Transportation Studies came calling in 1996. And by then, Krovoza had become frustrated with the tedious nature of litigation work.

"(Working for the institute) was an opportunity to stay close to my passion for the environment and tap into what I'm really interested in about fund raising - the role you can play in building a program," he said.

Though institutional fund-raising and environmental activism may seem like disparate callings, Krovoza says he finds that the two jobs have a common mission.

"It's very similar (work) at the institute," he said. "We are dealing with air quality and the environmental impacts of transportation."

Krovoza has also been able to satisfy his environmental callings as chairman of the Putah Creek Council, the Davis non-profit dedicated to the preservation of the scenic local creek.

In May 2000 Krovoza, along with representatives from the city of Davis and UC Davis, helped negotiate the settlement of a long-running water rights dispute between the council and several Solano County water agencies which distribute water from the creek. The agreement called for flows on 23 miles of the lower Putah to increase by 50 percent, allowing sufficient water for both resident fish and ocean-run salmon and steelhead.

Last week at the Davis city council meeting, he received the city's annual environmental recognition award.

Krozova was nominated for the honor by more than a dozen people across the community, including UC Davis environmental planner Sid England. Along with Krovoza's work on the Putah Creek Council, some of his nominators cited the Krovoza family's participation in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Davis Solar Pioneers program.

The family was one of the first in Davis to join the program, which allows city residents to buy photovoltaic, or solar, panels at about 50 percent of their normal cost. Their father's focus on conservation causes Krovoza's daughters, Charlotte, 10, and Lillian, 7, to roll their eyes, however. "Charlotte says, 'Dad, you are the energy crisis,'" Krovoza said.

What's your favorite spot along Putah Creek?

It would have to be the university's riparian reserve just south of the airport. It's where I was at 6 a.m. one Sunday morning floating a kayak when a beaver incredibly smacked his tail about three feet from my boat and scared me to death. It was almost a you-are-in-my-territory, the-creek-belongs-to-me statement.

Do you use your knowledge of law in your fund-raising work?

A legal education is a wonderful tool that helps you in ways you never realize. When you speak as a lawyer you are speaking as an advocate, carefully honing your position. That's very valuable as a fund-raiser.

What's the most challenging aspect of your job?

The institute has an international donor base. Figuring out how to work that for our objectives is very challenging.

Logistically, in this job the first thing I think in the morning is 'Is there anything I need to think about in Europe?' Then I think about the East Coast and then the West Coast. In the late afternoon I might think about China and Japan.

What are your best energy-saving tips?

I am absolutely consumed by (energy conservation). I was changing fluorescent light bulbs at 11:45 p.m. last night.

Open the windows when it's cool outside. Use fans instead of air conditioners. Make your high-use bulbs fluorescent, and kill your electric dryer.

What's the best part about raising a family in a university town?

It's absolutely the ability to have my kids increasingly engaged in university activities - going to sporting events and camps and cultural events. The way the university's intellectual and cultural resources permeate the community is really wonderful.

What's on your summer reading list?

This is embarrassing, but the only thing on my summer reading list is a book called "Setting Limits" by Davis-based school psychologist Robert McKenzie. It's about raising kids.

At this stage with a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old, I read the newspaper, but I don't read real books. The other thing I will read with my kids is any and every Tintin book. We are obsessed by Tintin.

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Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,

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