Laura Lee Cascada is a freelance writer and editor based in Central Virginia. With a Master's degree from Johns Hopkins University and over five years of experience working for non-profit organizations, she specializes in green living, charities, and the great outdoors. The fruits of her labor have been featured in national publications from Politico to the Huffington Post, and her writing has been published by the Ecologist, One Green Planet, the Sierra Club, and more. She also brings a lifelong knack for creating functional artwork from up-cycled materials to the table and is the former co-owner of a successful custom mosaic art business.
Laura received her bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Randolph-Macon College in 2009 and her master's in Environmental Sciences and Policy from the Johns Hopkins University in 2013. During her studies, she consulted for local governments and organizations to design solutions combatting deforestation and coastal erosion. Her schooling also took her to Costa Rica to study tropical ecology and the Bahamas where she delved into the ecotourism industry.
As a Conservation Program Coordinator for the Virginia Sierra Club, Laura spearheaded a successful grassroots campaign to protect Virginia's 30-year moratorium on uranium mining. She currently edits scientific journal articles for CACTUS Global's Center of Excellence for Environmental Science, Energy, and Sustainability.
Laura is a vegan with a passion for sustainable living and a wealth of knowledge on cutting our carbon footprint without breaking the bank. An offspring of two cavers, she has spent much of her life outdoors, from venturing through underground caverns to snorkeling in Hawaii and hiking the Grand Tetons. She is a licensed boater, a board member for the Appalachian Cave Conservancy, and a member of the National Speleological Society.
In addition to her stint at the Sierra Club, Laura spent five years leading campaigns at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting animals. There, she helped defeat over a dozen proposed "ag-gag" bills designed to criminalize the filming of animal abuse on industrial farms. Her work included organizing press conferences, liaising with policymakers, garnering celebrity support, drafting web text and news releases, and coordinating video launches, including one featuring Republican strategist Mary Matalin.
As a campaign manager, Laura was responsible for training and supervising campaign staff. Her work with charities has also included volunteering or interning with Greenpeace, Friends of the Rappahannock, the Virginia Equine Welfare Society, the Maymont Foundation, and many other organizations.
At a young age, Laura hopped on a sewing machine and began creating unique trinkets to sell on the handmade marketplace Etsy. She later co-owned an art business, Custom by Corvis, specializing in vibrant, functional, and eco-friendly art pieces, for two years. Many Corvis pieces were derived from abandoned materials, from old glass shards and wooden surfaces to thrift-store flower pots and lighting. Laura and her partner, Rachel, up-cycled the finds into colorful mosaics, personalized paintings, and trendy household items to sell online, in craft shows around Virginia, and as custom orders. They became experts at breathing new life into seemingly ordinary items while adhering to a tight budget. Laura is currently working on her latest craft venture, Le Petit Poppyseed, a line of pig-themed accessories raising money for neglected and abused pigs.
In her free time, Laura enjoys caring for her furry (and not-so-furry) family of dogs, rabbits, cockatiels, and fish. She advocates for animals in her community through local grassroots organization Richmond Friends of Animals and runs her own educational project on hermit crabs, Plight of the Hermies. At night, Laura can be found immersed in writing and revising her first novel, planned for completion in 2015. Read more about her life and work at her website.