Gary Barrett is the senior advisor at the USDA Forest Service National Partnership Office and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service. He was the deputy director and senior advisor of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) and previously worked for the United Nations World Food Programme in South Sudan and the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance in the Disaster Assistance Support Program.

Before joining the federal government in 1997, Gary served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned his master’s degree from the Yale School of the Environment and his bachelor’s from Morehouse College, and he holds a diploma in humanitarian assistance from Fordham University. He is the former president of the Yale School of the Environment Alumni Association Board and one of the YAA's new Eli Ambassadors.

He took a break from his many responsibilities to sit down with us to discuss environmental justice, why he chose Yale, and taking time to enjoy the journey.

Why Yale?
The Yale School of Environment intrigued me being the oldest school for forestry in the U.S. The international focus and the opportunity to engage with the broader Yale student body made it the right choice.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 
The introductory “Mods” at YSE and the opportunity to bond with my classmates and faculty as we did instruction at the Yale Forest.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
I would not do anything differently. My experience then laid the foundation for who I am currently.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
The restaurant Bar.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
Marsh Hall.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
Dr. Dorceta Taylor because she is advancing the field of environmental justice and the affects this topic has had on marginalized communities.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
I have gained a greater appreciation for the broader Yale community and have been able to reconnect with my classmates and former professors.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
It shaped me as a leader and gave me the confidence to explore international work opportunities.

What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
I would like to see alumni have a greater impact on the communities in which they live and continue to advocate on behalf of climate affected communities.

What advice would you give to current students? 
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the journey, as you will be better for it.


How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You." 

And be sure to check out all the Q&As in the series by visiting our Getting to Know You page.