Originally from a town in Connecticut, about 40 minutes from New York City, McKenzie grew up on the water and had the opportunity to learn to sail from a young age. Being connected to nature when sailing, and through her outdoor-focused lifestyle, McKenzie was very aware of the climate and the impact our actions as humans have on the planet.
At college, McKenzie studied Human Biology, with a focus on Global Health and Development. She continued to sail competitively through college, and then later went professional. As well as giving her a deep understanding of how to work with nature, in this case water and the wind, sailing also gave McKenzie an insight into how climate change was contributing to the rapid change of long-standing prevailing weather patterns in locations around the world.
When McKenzie saw three natural disasters occurring in quick succession in 2017 (Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and the California wildfire season), she quickly took a change of professional direction and started seeking opportunities back in the public health space, focusing on global disaster response. She realised that, in order to mobilise the appropriate responses to natural disasters that were becoming more frequent and more extreme, people first had to accept that climate change is occurring.
Following a deep-dive into the climate movement, McKenzie now works with large tech corporations to help them achieve their sustainability goals, through the Step Up Coalition, an initiative of Mission 2020. The ultimate goal of Step Up is to achieve a net zero future by 2050 by bringing together innovative companies who are committed to corporate sustainability. She has also been representing these organisations at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
McKenzie is most excited of the opportunity to create a domino effect for sustainable living through Ailuna. She says that we all need to do our bit, and whilst people understand that they do have a part to play in building a better future for the planet, it’s hard to know where to start or what the right things to do are. Ailuna will provide the structure and opportunity for individuals to find solutions that are just as fulfilling, if not more fulfilling than the life they were living before.
Another very important aspect of Ailuna for McKenzie is the sense of community and connection to society it will give. As well as support within the Ailuna community with making sustainable choices and changing habits, the wider benefit is creating awareness that vulnerable populations are experiencing the consequences of climate change far earlier than a lot of us will. She says she is excited that AIluna will help us understand the benefits of the changes we are making will have. Not necessarily for ourselves but for people in less of a privileged position.
Outside of work, McKenzie loves the outdoors, so whether it’s sailing, hiking or cycling, she can usually be found doing something active. She says that one of her passions is taking on too much work so she doesn’t have too much downtime, but when she does she enjoys cooking for friends and teaching her puppy Lucy to like going swimming, as she’s currently not too keen on water.
McKenzie is already making huge efforts in her own life to live in a more sustainable way. These efforts include buying in bulk from local co-ops, as well as buying fresh produce from farmers’ markets every week.
She cooks almost everything from scratch, and composts everything she can’t save. There are even some weeks where she creates no landfill waste at all – just recycling and compost!
McKenzie has invested in an electric car, which can be charged using the solar power that her house it set up to generate. She also actively recommends eco-friendly and sustainable products and solutions to anyone who will listen, to try to spread the sustainable word. Lastly, she’s trying hard to fly a lot less and makes her own cashew milk rather than buying dairy or plant milks.
If McKenzie had a magic wand to make one big change in the world, she would ensure everyone on the planet had access to electricity, and that it was all fully renewable. Something seemingly as simple as this can have a far-reaching effect on family and society as a whole, including fertility rates, women’s education and GDP.
We’re very excited about having McKenzie’s passion and expertise on board, and look forward to seeing where Ailuna takes us all.