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Alumni Spotlight //
Advocacy Shaped by UCSB Experiences

Tamara DiCaprio, '81 recounts her UCSB experiences.
Tamara DiCaprio Tamara DiCaprio, '81 met with Bren School students for a Q&A session on Oct. 15.

Tamara DiCaprio, '81, lives in the woods, surrounded by wildlife. Her “neighbors” are deer, humpback whales and orcas. As Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft, DiCaprio is in a prime position to protect the planet – and her animal neighbors – from damage wrought by unsustainable corporate practices. She helped create Microsoft’s carbon-fee model and is on working to drive Microsoft into carbon neutrality.

“I saw that I could work through and with a corporation to make an impact at scale,” said DiCaprio. “I’m able to lead a corporation with its brand and funding in order to set a good example for other corporations and demonstrate responsibility and action in an area of critical importance.”

At UC Santa Barbara, DiCaprio was drawn to the environmental studies department’s passion towards their research efforts. “These guys were out to solve the problems of the world and I wanted to be a part of that,” DiCapiro said. “I learned from these professors how to create a job and make an impact. Not to wait around. I learned about the ecosystems around me and how to make contributions.”

Dr. Barry Schuyler, one of the founders of the environmental studies program, gave DiCaprio some of her favorite UCSB experiences. Schuyler made hundreds of sailing trips to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands with students. The seas were rough one day, giving the group the chance to be in direct contact with nature. After roughing it out at sea and making it out of the storm, DiCaprio and the other students jumped into the ocean and swam to the island, where they talked for hours about research and policy ideas.

 “You were under the starlight in the tiny little boat, discussing matters of importance,” DiCaprio said. “There was a sense of camaraderie, thinking big visions and taking on grand problems, working through solutions together.”

Tamara DiCaprio Tamara DiCaprio, '81 with Dr. Barry Schuyler.

Another favorite professor, Dr. Garrett Harden, also taught DiCaprio about the tragedy of the commons. “We need to take responsibility for the well-being of society and the planet,” said DiCaprio.

Years after graduation, DiCaprio has remained connected to UCSB. Last month, she spoke at Bren School about the development of Microsoft’s carbon-fee model and attended UC President Janet Napolitano’s Corporate Leadership Panel on the path to carbon and climate neutrality.

“UCSB has deeply impacted the way I look at the world. The professors taught me how to proactively think and engage, how to ask questions and have the courage to make a difference,” said DiCaprio.

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