North Bay Business Journal

Monday, June 16, 2014, 6:23 am

Facilities Managers Recognition Awards 2014: Heather Kurland, Point Blue Conservation Science


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    Facilities manager, Point Blue Conservation Science, 3820 Cypress Dr., Ste. 11, Petaluma 94954, 707-781-2545, pointblue.org

    Age: 39

    Residence: Petaluma

    Professional background: Facilities and office management, construction, and project management.

    Education: B.A., Earlham College, Richmond, Ind.

    Staff: Subcontractors

    Describe the facilities you oversee: In addition to our 20,000-square-foot Petaluma headquarters, I manage facilities needs at our locations throughout west Marin, including the Point Reyes Bird Observatory Palomarin Field Station, staff housing, a smaller west Marin office and locations beyond the Bay Area. 

    Our Sonoma County Green Business-certified headquarters houses a library, a scientific wet lab, an observation deck and office space for approximately half of our full-time employees, seasonal staff and interns. Built in 2005, this building was constructed using greener materials wherever possible. 

    Tell us a little bit about yourself: When not managing Point Blue’s safety program, dealing with a broken water pipe, or making cost-saving changes to vendor relationships, I can generally be found telling someone to do their dishes in the kitchen.

    I am the detailer’s detailer, driven from a young age to do this work. At 4, I alphabetized my mother’s spice rack, and by 7, I was fixing broken household items.

    My prior experiences include providing facilities management for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and business management for an ecological cabinetry firm in Marin.

    Educated at a tiny Quaker college in the Midwest, my interest in conservation was solidified on backpacking trips and during a six-month biology study in Kenya. A runner at heart and a bird nerd, I can often be seen running with binoculars.

    What do you see as the role of the facilities managers within your organization?: At Point Blue, we work to advance the conservation of birds, other wildlife and ecosystems through science, partnerships and outreach. My role is to keep the gears oiled and humming smoothly so our scientists can do their important work. I strive diligently to manage my budget to save money so that more organizational funds can go directly toward fieldwork and outreach. I try to anticipate needs before they arise and plan for the future organizational growth so we are prepared. 

    What is the achievement you are most proud of?: I strive for balance between work and family life — rest and activity as well as between social time and time for introspection.

    In my role at Point Blue Conservation Science, I would say it’s the way I carefully manage our facilities budget, our recent Sonoma County Green Business Program certification, and our affiliation with the California Teleconnect Fund, which makes us eligible for significant communication savings. I also have been able to create, implement and maintain an agency-wide safety program, which is essential given the nature of our fieldwork.

    What is your biggest challenge today?: As our organization continues to grow and we hire more and more field staff, the part-time need for office space grows. Often there is the need to provide space for a few or a significantly higher number of people. Since I can’t make our building magically grow, the need for creative solutions and office sharing becomes extremely important.

    What the next major project either under way or on the horizon?: This will include a complete overhaul of our data center’s cooling and ventilation system as well as significant repairs to the foundation slab under our facility.

    What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?: The name of the game in facilities management is multitasking, and the most effective tool I use is my Outlook task list where everything gets broken down into manageable steps.

    How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: With climate change comes a growing need to conserve resources and a corresponding responsibility for us who manage buildings. Conversion to green energy, close monitoring of HVAC systems, implementing water-conservation measures and using greener building materials and office supplies — these are things that all facilities managers will need to be well-versed in.

    I think emphasis will be placed on telecommuting and remote infrastructure support will become a larger part of every facilities manager’s job. Of course, toilets will always clog, and light bulbs will always need to be changed. But increasingly, I believe these will be low-flow toilets and LED lights. 

    Most admired businessperson outside your organization: I admire Straus Family Creamery. As a for-profit company, they operate with integrity and a keen understanding of land stewardship and greener technology.

    Current reading: The Flounder by Günter Grass.

    Person you most want to meet: Amy Goodman.

    Stress-relievers: Running, birding, unscheduled time and having a plan.

    Favorite hobbies: All the above, plus hiking, reading, eating and resting.

    Words that best describe you: Organized, thorough, funny, efficient, responsible, good at listening, tenacious and, perhaps, a wee bit bossy.

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    1 Comment

    1. June 20, 2014, 8:06 am

      by Eve Williams

      Congrats Heather – awesome job and well-deserved recognition!

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