Paul Herendeen, Director of Impact Market Development at Clearwater Credit Union, has always been focused on finding solutions, and he feels that the ability to communicate clearly paves the way to solving problems. The climate crisis fascinated him, so Herendeen, who grew up in Urbana, Illinois, was drawn to studying the environment. He achieved a bachelor’s in biology at the University of Virginia and a master’s in environmental engineering at Cornell. He spent time working for the Forest Service and doing field work in California and Alaska.
After starting a PhD program at Colorado State, however, he felt that while it is important to keep learning about climate change, we know enough to start implementing solutions. Herendeen became interested in green energy and conservation. He saw finance as a way to accomplish those initiatives.
Since shifting his career trajectory, Herendeen’s interests have broadened to include issues such as economic justice and equitable housing. He says, “I just want to see things get done. That’s the bottom line.” Clearwater Credit Union genuinely cares about our community, so being in a leadership position within that institution has allowed Hernandez to make headway in projects that he feels will be a force for good. For example, he is currently working with different branches of CCU to write a document that is meant to integrate their business strategy for upcoming years with their core mission and values. CCU’s sponsorship of Writing Coaches also illustrates their commitment to the betterment of our community.
Although Herendeen has a background in STEM, he feels that communication and writing skills are crucial to being an effective leader. He says, “Writing clearly enforces clarity of thought. The process of putting your thoughts on paper really helps you figure out exactly what it is you want to say.” To have any measure of success, Herendeen argues that you have to convey your message in a way that is well crafted so that it will make an impact on people. If your goal is to make people care about an issue, it has to be presented to them in a clear and memorable way. Additionally, solving complex problems often require the insight of multiple experts, and communication is crucial to collaboration.
Herendeen advises young people who want to develop their writing and communication skills to relax. He reminds us that you don’t need to be a poet to be an effective writer. Rather than trying to be complex or elegant or use huge vocabulary words, focus on just conveying your point as clearly as possible. This is part of why WCM provides such a crucial service to students. Having the opportunity to talk through what students want to write helps them clarify their ideas and then put them on paper in a more concise way.
Like many Montanans, Herendeen enjoys skiing, hunting, and hiking. He has a dog named Luna, and he likes to read “anything you put in front of [him] from Moby-Dick to a Cosmo magazine”.
WCM is so grateful that passionate community members like him are invested in the work we do, and we are proud to partner with CCU. We hope to continue to highlight the work of leaders like Paul Herendeen and institutions like CCU that provide the tools to make that work possible.