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Right around the time that Madeleine Buckingham and I were taking on new roles here at Mother Jones back in 2010, Becky Tarbotton was doing the same as the new executive director for Rainforest Action Network, one of the mainstays of in-your-face but really smart environmental organizing.
Maybe that’s why Becky and I hit it off so well: Figuring out these new jobs was definitely something we had in common.
Right from the start, though, it was really clear that Becky—one of a new generation of dynamic, inspiring, and field-tested visionaries coming into leadership roles in the environmental and social justice movement—was more than ready. She’d been program director at RAN for many years, knew the science, knew the policy world, and knew the importance of a kick-ass media operation and ground game.
No surprise, then, that during one of our first lunchtime conversations around the corner from RAN’s downtown San Francisco office, we talked about how best to pivot our organizations to best deal with the great, new, complicated challenges of the day—challenges that the inherited patterns of thought and practice just weren’t up to meeting.
I had no doubt that Becky would take RAN in the right direction. And she did. Take a look at the RAN website, and you’ll see what I mean.
But now Rainforest Action Network and all of us who care about the earth and justice and democracy will have to do it without her. Becky died in an accident while on vacation a few days ago. She was 39.
Becky was carved from passionate, steely, joyful stuff. She was a young force to be reckoned with. Her death is an especially hard one, when what we assume to be a natural order in succession is upended.
Our love and deepest condolences go out to Becky’s husband, Mateo, her brothers Jesse and Cameron, her mother, Mary, and the entire Rainforest Action community.