BY CLAIRE SMITH “Don’t be afraid to take chances. If you’re not being challenged, then you’re not growing,” advises Debra Rezeli, Director of Engagement for the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters.
The NCLCV is a statewide organization that works to elect environmentally conscious leaders to the North Carolina General Assembly and to educate voters on important environmental issues. As Director of Engagement, Rezeli manages public relations, communications, and operations.
Rezeli never considered herself an environmentalist. She grew up on a farm in rural eastern North Carolina, where she took for granted the correlation between land and how people treat it.
After graduating from Peace College, Rezeli launched her own branding business, 2D Designs Inc. She first got involved with the NCLCV—then called the Conservation Council of North Carolina—as a rebranding consultant in 2008. She formally joined the organization two years later when she earned her MBA in Marketing Management from NC State University.
This year, Rezeli received the Women in Business Award by the Triangle Business Journal, which honors women and their accomplishments in business or community service.
Rezeli’s latest project with the NCLCV has been to create a Legislative Scorecard, which will provide voters with information on how their legislators voted on bills that affect North Carolina’s air, water, and land. The Scorecard aims to hold elected officials responsible for their actions and to provide more transparency to voters.
As a marketing and branding specialist, an accidental environmentalist, and a mother, Rezeli wears many hats. She understands that finding balance between her many roles is crucial. This balance– or lack thereof— presents issues for many women in North Carolina, especially those in the fields of environment and politics, she says.
“I’ve seen a lot of women Executive Directors in this field step down from their positions this past year. This scares me because we’re losing a lot of knowledge that has been there for years,” says Rezeli. “This is a crucial time where we need leaders to be stepping up and pulling us in the right direction.”
“We as women place unreasonable expectations on ourselves and we judge ourselves so much that we can’t see the good that are doing because we can only see our weaknesses,” she says.
“Now is the time for women to refocus and understand that we can make a difference.” Hear, hear!