Rubbing Elbows

Unpacked: Shopping Bags and Tupperware

Kahlil Kettering, SIS/BA '05, SIS/MA '07, urban conservation director, Maryland/DC chapter, the Nature Conservancy

Khalil Kettering and the contents of his bag

Plastic and Styrofoam are terrible for the environment, so I carry a small, reusable shopping bag and a Tupperware container for leftovers. If everyone made that small, easy change, we could reduce our footprint.


I spent more than five years doing environmental work in the Florida Everglades. Sunglasses were a must.  

cell phone

I like to listen to music or an audiobook on the Metro. Right now I'm listening to The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel.  

American and Jamaican flags

American and Jamaican flags honor my mixed racial and cultural background.  

wooden rhino from Africa

I grew up in Kenya; going on safaris as a child shaped my perspective and inspired me to work on environmental issues.  

family photos

I keep a photo of my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. My family's black, white, and Asian—it's a beautiful picture of what America looks like. It also reminds me of the sacrifices made by others to help me get to this point in my career. 


I always carry breath mints and deodorant—just in case.


I use my laptop to write reports and emails, but I like to take notes by hand, because I retain the information better.  

soccer ball

I grew up playing soccer. So many people around the world play the game; it's a great way to relate and connect with people.

phone charger

A cell phone charger is essential in case my battery dies when I'm running between meetings. 

ThinkPad laptop

I split my time between the field and the office, coordinating strategy with partners and creating presentations about everything from the nexus between human health and preserving nature to the economic benefits of expanding the tree canopy in urban areas.  

stack of books

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr. has been instrumental in guiding me on this path, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu reminds me that we always need to have a strategy for any endeavor we have in life.