Focus Empowers
40/40 Features | Vol. 1

Tammy Monistere – 40/40 Vol. 1

Tammy Monistere
Photo by Devin Ford

Tammy Monistere has dedicated her career of 25 years to nonprofit organizations; she recently stepped down as Executive Director of Conservation Alabama, where she proudly served for six years. This organization protects public lands and serves as a key player in environmental issues throughout the state and as an invaluable watchdog over state legislation that could have negative impacts on the environment. Passionate about serving others, Tammy also sits on various nonprofit boards in our community. In 2017, Tammy was named one of the “Top 30 Women Who Shape the State” because of her tireless efforts to protect and strengthen our state. She resides in Mobile with her husband and finds joy in her family, which includes two children, two stepchildren, and a beautiful granddaughter.

Tell us about your business(es)/employer. List services offered and/or work you do and how you describe what you do to others: 

For more than 21 years, Conservation Alabama has been fighting to protect the people and places of Alabama–by increasing civic and community engagement, electing conservation champions to public office and holding them accountable, and passing laws that safeguard Alabama’s natural resources.

We have built a powerful statewide network of conservation voters and become a trusted resource on environmental issues. In our two decades of existence, we’ve made it clear to legislators that Alabama voters care about the environment. Since our founding, Conservation Alabama has prevented 95% of bills that would harm our environment from passing. Our most recent legislative wins include blocking landfill companies from using toxic substances to cover trash, lowering fees, expanding infrastructure for electric vehicles, and defeating a bill that would have prevented local communities from making decisions about how to manage plastic pollution.

Share any relevant education, accolades, experiences related to your success: 

I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in English.

Tell us why you chose your profession, the value it brings to you and/or the community:  

I spent a lot of time trying to “find myself” after college but was fortunate enough to land a job as a “team leader” for Volunteer Baton Rouge in 1995. I led various groups of teenage volunteers for a week to two weeks throughout a series of nonprofit organizations in the Baton Rouge area. I learned the value of early volunteer work, and witnessed how these high school students would often then go on to become lifelong volunteers. I also learned about nonprofit organizations and the role they play in solving critical problems in our communities. I love being engaged in the community and being a part of a team of people in search of solutions to complex societal problems. 

Are you involved with the community, any non-profits, etc. and why is that important? 

I serve on the Board of Directors for Lifelines Counseling Services, an organization that conducts crisis counseling, provides services for child and adult survivors of sexual assault, hosts our city’s 211 program, and many other programs that help many of our community’s most vulnerable populations. I previously served on the board of the Junior League of Mobile as Nominating Chair and Project Development Chair. 

Tammy Monistere
Photo by Devin Ford

 Are there any specific policies and/or laws you would like to see changed to advance women?

I’ve long advocated for laws that protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I also believe we would all benefit from policies that make childcare more affordable and accessible for working families. 

What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking the path of empowerment or struggling with self-doubt?

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and want to see you succeed. Self-doubt is something we all struggle with at times, so having friends and colleagues who are honest about your strengths and weaknesses and willing to support you allows for personal growth and builds confidence. It also allows you to ask for help when you need it. 

“Surround yourself with people who believe in you and want to see you succeed. Self-doubt is something we all struggle with at times, so having friends and colleagues who are honest about your strengths and weaknesses and willing to support you allows for personal growth and builds confidence.”
Tammy Monistere

What/who inspires you?

I am inspired by seeing diverse women in leadership roles making a difference not just within my community, but throughout the nation. Growing up, strong, positive, women leaders were not as prevalent as they are today. Today, women are definitely on the rise and making a positive impact on today’s society. Just watching women on the rise is all the inspiration I need to continue being motivated to give my all each and every day.  

How important has education and/or continuing education been to you?

One of the great things about working in a nonprofit organization is that you often have opportunities to try new things and learn new skills. My college degree and post-graduate classes were just the beginning of my education. In my professional career, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about grant writing, managing conflict, public speaking, and attend many conferences and training sessions that have allowed me to be better at my job. I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities throughout your career. 

Tammy Monistere
Photo by Devin Ford

How do you think professional environments need to change to support and/or be more welcoming to women?

I’ve had several conversations recently about how difficult it is for women to balance work and family, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m a firm believer in a healthy work/life balance. I would love to see more flexibility within the workplace, not just for women, but for all of us. Even those of us without (young) children have times in our lives when we have to manage a family member’s illness or other life challenges. I believe very strongly that we should support women and families through these times. And I also believe doing so ultimately helps us get increased productivity and loyalty from our staff as well. 

What/who inspires you? 

Right now the people who most inspire me are young people who are stepping up to this moment in history. My daughter, Sophie, is majoring in poverty studies and human rights, and she works harder than anyone else I know. She is a fierce advocate for women’s rights already, so I can only imagine what she will be able to accomplish with her passion and knowledge once she enters the workforce. 

How do you take care of yourself everyday so that you stay balanced and centered? 

For me, it’s really about the people I surround myself with and their emotional support. I have a strong network of female friends, many of whom have been there my entire adult life. I have a supportive husband and a close relationship with my children, who also make me want to be my best. I also feel much better physically and mentally when I exercise regularly. Getting outside, being in nature, being with friends and family all make a huge difference in my attitude and productivity level.

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