Feb. 7, 2016

Amber Porter, a project engineer with Strand Associates Inc., has been named the January winner in a new leadership program sponsored by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and the Columbus Young Professionals group. One young professional from the Columbus community is chosen each month of 2016 in the areas of life, community and work as someone who exemplifies leadership skills. Porter was nominated in the “community” category. The Republic is introducing the winners each month through this column.

Name: Amber Porter

Age: 26

City of residence: Columbus

Education: I graduated in 2011 from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental and ecological engineering. I attended high school in Rochester, Minnesota.

Employment: I work for Strand Associates, a civil and environmental engineering firm. I contribute to various water, wastewater, stormwater and transportation planning and design projects. I also do marketing, recruiting and construction observation.

How many years have you lived in Columbus?

Four years.

What are your activities and interests in Columbus?

I really enjoy volunteering with various organizations, eating at tasty local restaurants, bicycling and doing yoga.

What are some ways you lead in the Columbus community?

I like to be involved with groups and enjoy the social and educational aspects of volunteering. I’m currently the president of Energy Matters Community Coalition. I also have an interest in helping start organizations that fill a need in the community. A couple examples of this are the Columbus Women’s Ride and the Columbus Homeowners Initiative for Chicken Keeping (CHICK).

Tell us about the Energy Matters Community Coalition and what you are trying to achieve with it.

The coalition’s mission statement is to reduce local contributions to global climate change and to increase the health and prosperity of our community through smart public and private energy choices.

One of the activities we host is called Green Drinks. It is an informational presentation held bimonthly on various topics like solar energy, climate change, sustainable architecture, green landscaping and more. We pair it with free appetizers and drinks. It is just one way we are trying to engage and educate the community on environmental issues.

Your nomination said you are interested in healthy lifestyles and a founding member of the Columbus Women’s Ride. Why is bike riding important to you?

I love bicycling. It can offer many benefits — exercise, being outside, transportation, social time (if you’re on a group ride or riding with friends). The Columbus Women’s Ride provides a lot of these benefits to people who might not be comfortable on larger rides with longer distances. It’s a great way to engage people in a friendly, social atmosphere who are new to Columbus or are new to bike riding.

What is the Active Transportation Outreach Team and what is your role in it?

The Active Transportation Outreach Team is a group focused on creatively engaging community members to promote and encourage the use of alternative transportation. It’s so fun to work with like-minded individuals to help people in the community make better choices for their health. I specifically enjoy helping with valet bike parking at the farmers market in the summer and helping with Bike to Work Week.

If you could change Columbus in any way, what would that change be?

I love the People Trails, and I think we’re fortunate in many ways with our current infrastructure, but seeing more bike lanes or paths for people to use to get to necessities, like grocery stores or to their places of employment, would be great for this community.

What do you think shouldn’t change about Columbus, and why?

I hope citizen involvement doesn’t change. It’s such a privilege to live in a place where people care and work together to make a difference.

When you talk about Columbus to those who don’t live here, how do you describe it?

It’s the perfect little city. We have great local restaurants, amazing architecture, quality employers and above all good people and opportunities to be involved.

If someone asked you what they could do to help the community of Columbus, what would you advise them to do?

I think helping a community starts with relationships. People change and achieve great things through relationships, so being friendly to those you work with and those you live near is a great start. Beyond that, I think getting involved in an organization that interests you is key. We are fortunate to have so many options for community involvement here in Columbus, so I am confident you can find a place to contribute. Everyone has different talents and skills to offer, so put those to good use.