This program made everything possible for me.”
Senior Environmental Professional, Mangi Environmental Group
Bruce Kaplan was in his late forties when he decided a career change was in order. He had spent 20 years in marketing and research in the cable and broadcast TV industry, crunching Nielsen ratings in California and helping news directors figure out their audiences.
He knew it wouldn’t sustain him for the next 20 years.
“So I just started reading a lot of books and I tried to see what would quicken my pulse. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do next,” he recalls.
Reading Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold pointed him to environmental protection and eventually to the MELP program at Vermont Law School.
He was a bit of a neophyte in the subject area and he wasn’t entirely sure what he would do with the degree, but, he says, “I was intrigued by building a base of knowledge.”
“I didn’t know what NEPA was, I didn’t even know the difference between a statute and a regulation,” he says with a laugh. “This opened my eyes to the whole field. It made everything possible for me.”
Today, Kaplan knows plenty about the National Environmental Policy Act, working as a senior environmental professional with Mangi Environmental Group. Based just outside of Washington DC, Mangi Environmental manages NEPA compliance for federal agencies, with clients in all 50 states.
His recent work includes a project to protect the Devils Hole pupfish, an endangered species found only in one cave pool in Death Valley National Park. Before taking the assignment, he had never heard of the pupfish. Now he’s an expert on their critical habitat.
His work at Mangi Environmental also has him working with windfarms, housing construction, and natural gas pipelines. It’s what he loves about the profession.
“I’m not pigeonholed. I’m doing different things all the time,” says Kaplan, who credits his time as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with helping him narrow his sights to the field he is now working in.
Coming full circle, his work with Mangi will have him relocating to California, right where he began his search for the new career. Looking back, he has never second-guessed his decision to return to school as he neared age 50.
“In the end,’ he says, “everything works out the way it’s supposed to.”