Although she can’t recall an aha moment that launched her interest, Julia Burrows says she has been passionate about all things green and sustainable as long as she can remember.
Growing up in a military family allowed her to see much of the country at an early age. “Alabama, Florida, Wyoming, California — I witnessed what communities were doing well on the recycling front,” Burrows says. “For whatever reason my biggest concern became taking care of the earth through conservation.”
She took her passion to UC Davis where she majored in environmental planning and policy analysis. Within a year of graduation she landed a job in the planning department at the city of Roseville. That was 1988, and the South Placer community had a population of 28,000. Today, nearly 116,000 people live in Roseville.
“I had the opportunity to be involved in a lot of planning — a lot of development with a city department that was very energy- and conservation-minded,” she says. “Because the city had its own utility company, it was able to implement a solar-panel program back in 1997. We now have a million kilowatts of solar energy on the roofs of schools, homes and businesses. Today, Roseville has the lowest energy rates in the region.”
With Roseville, Burrows was also able to participate in several green programs including Valley Vision’s Capital Green Alliance and the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Cap-to-Cap Green Team effort.
“As a team, it was our job to take the green advocacy message to Congress in hopes of finding stimulus money,” Burrows says of the annual Cap-to-Cap trek from Sacramento to Washington. “It was a particularly energetic trip this year as the green initiative is so in line with the priorities of both the Obama administration and Congresswoman Matsui.”
It was during this trip that Valley Vision CEO Bill Mueller engaged in a lengthy conversation with Burrows on the nonprofit’s green projects and involvements. Upon return from Washington, Mueller called Burrows and invited her to be one of two managing partners working exclusively on green and sustainable issues.
“Because of my personal passion, it just seemed like a logical career move,” Burrows says. “I now have the opportunity to work with state policy makers, government and business on the green front. [It’s] my dream job.”
• Occupation: Burrows, 44, joined Valley Vision as a managing partner in May. She worked for the city of Roseville for 22 years, most recently as the deputy city manager and economic development manager. Her economic development efforts include a focus on sustainability at the local and regional levels. She has co-chaired the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Clean Green Team delegation to Washington for the past four years.
• Personal: Burrows and her husband, Chris, live in the Woodcreek neighborhood of Roseville with their three children: Andrew, Austin and Brynne. Chris works in the planning department for Roseville. The Burrows are a soccer family; Julia helps coach her daughter’s team, and the boys play competitive soccer.
• More personal: Julia and Chris are both UC Davis graduates, but they met 22 years ago while working for Roseville. Julia also serves as board president for the St. Albans Country Day School and is secretary of the Placer Breast Cancer Endowment.
• Lunch: At Lucca in midtown Sacramento, Burrows enjoys the special of the day: pan-roasted swordfish with a broccoli rub and roasted golden potatoes.
Bill Mueller, 47, is CEO and managing partner at Valley Vision. One of four partners in the regional Next Economy initiative, Valley Vision serves as the project manager of the Capital Region’s latest economic development effort.
Sacramento loves regional planning. Take an issue — say, transportation or land use or coordination of local government — and a group will sprout to chart a course.