Julia McPherson

Portrait of Julia McPherson



Degree and Class Year

BA ’19


Wilmington, North Carolina and Portland, Oregon


Rhetoric and Media Studies


Student Leadership and Service leader, Pamplin Society of Fellows, Lambda Pi Eta, Registrar’s Office student worker, SAAB

Job Title, Organization

Community Relations Manager, EDP Renewables North America LLC

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Encouraging, Flexible, Empowering

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

My family has been in North Carolina for generations, so I was eager to use college as an opportunity to experience an environment completely different from my own. I was especially drawn to the dynamic of being part of a small, tight-knit community while living in a larger city. Lewis & Clark seemed like the best of both worlds: a way to have a home community while still enjoying all of the resources and opportunities that come with being in an innovative urban center.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

The liberal arts teaches students how to reframe their thinking, consider the broader context, and look for the deeper meaning underpinning more surface-level information. It helps students develop tools to critically and consciously engage with their surroundings and identify nuanced connections and relationships. I’ve found the liberal arts background extremely helpful in my current role, which involves communicating complicated—and at times controversial—technical information pertaining to renewable energy to the general public. Having a liberal arts lens helps me recognize the deeper dynamics at play within communities, better understand where certain concerns or questions are coming from, and navigate the process of forming relationships among different groups of stakeholders.

What developed your passion for sustainability?

Sustainability never seemed like an optional interest. I intend to live on this planet for the next 60 years or more, and grew up amid concerning events involving our climate. Taking immediate action to shift our economy and society toward more sustainable solutions has always seemed essential to me. I’ve always wanted my efforts to go toward something meaningful and, in my view, there really isn’t anything quite as meaningful as reaching a sustainable relationship with the planet on which we all live. There are also very few issues that everyone across different ideologies can typically agree on, but it’s heartening to find cases of that occurring. Sustainability is something everyone supports in some sense, even if it is articulated in different ways.

How would you describe sustainability at L&C?

It’s always been clear to me that L&C strives to be a responsible, accountable actor in terms of sustainability and overall impact. For an institution of this size, I’ve been really impressed with the commitments we have made and innovative solutions we have pursued with Director of Sustainability Amy Dvorak’s leadership.

What have you been doing since graduation?

During my last semester at L&C, I worked as the external communications intern for EDP Renewables (EDPR) and was very keen to find a long-term career in the renewable energy industry. Once the internship concluded, I took a job working at a global PR firm to hone basic public relations and media relations skills. I quickly realized just how important it was for the impact of my work to be something I truly believed in, and I wasn’t finding that in consumer PR. I continued to maintain a mentor relationship with my former internship supervisor, and after a year at the PR firm, I was thrilled to accept a position in the external communications department at EDPR. I’ve been here for two years now and was recently promoted to leading the North American platform’s new community relations division, meaning my entire focus will be on cultivating positive, trusting relationships with the communities who host our wind farms, solar parks, and battery storage projects. I have also continued to volunteer with organizations I came to know while working for the Student Leadership and Service office (now the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement) at L&C.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your job?

L&C—and particularly the professors in the rhetoric and media studies department—gave me so many opportunities to follow my interests and find new passions. The support from my professors gave me the confidence to try new things, believe in my abilities, and the latitude to make the programs work best for me. One of the most valuable things about L&C is that it gives you the freedom to run with opportunities. There are many mechanisms in place to customize the college experience to best fit your goals. I did an independent study to teach myself design software I now use daily, for example. And while you’re powering ahead, you have so much support available to catch you when you slip and advice on how to move forward. It’s sort of an amorphous answer, but L&C prepared me for my career by letting me practice making big decisions, identifying priorities, and building the confidence to do so in a supportive space.

Now that you’ve been out of college for a while, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

How to see the bigger picture, recognize how nearly everything is a gray area to some degree, and appreciate and navigate interconnectedness.