Climate & Community Work

Clif is passionate about addressing the threats of both climate change and political polarization. He is Policy Chair of the Carbon Washington Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research and coalition building to move Washington State toward a net-zero carbon future. He is also Director of Innovation for Braver Angels, a national organization that hosts Red/Blue workshops and online forums to help Americans learn to disagree respectfully and find common ground. 

Clif served on the board of the Genesis House, a residential drug treatment program, from 2005 to 2014, including four years as board chair. In 2011, Clif and his Nepalese coworker Tilak designed and built a solar-powered computer lab for Tilak’s remote home village of Shika in the foothills of the Himalayas. He was also Vice President of Programs for Music Works Northwest, Coordinator of the Clarence Acox Jazz Endowment, and Webmaster for the Garfield Jazz Foundation.

Clif and his wife Nelda recently inherited undeveloped land on Bainbridge Island, and are partnering with the eco design and build firm Green Canopy NODE to develop a cluster of net-zero ready homes surrounded by untouched forest.

Policy Chair | 2019 – present
Carbon Washington Foundation

The Carbon Washington Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports research, coalition building, and awareness raising that moves Washington state toward a net-zero carbon future. Clif helps coordinate Carbon Washington’s policy work evaluating and improving climate policies such as the Sustainable Farms and Fields bill (passed in 2020) and the Climate Commitment Act (passed in 2022).

Director of Innovation | 2018 – present
Braver Angels

Braver Angels was founded in the wake of the 2016 elections to help depolarize and reunite America. This national organization hosts Red/Blue workshops, debates, forums and alliances to help Americans learn to disagree respectfully and find common ground. In 2018, Clif was the “blue organizer” of the first Red/Blue workshop in Washington State. When the pandemic hit, Clif joined a national team of red/blue volunteers to take Braver Angels’ mission online. As Director of Innovation, Clif helped design and evolve a national debate format on Zoom. This unique format encourages individuals on both sides of a resolution to speak or ask questions, ensures civility in disagreement, and strives for learning and better understanding for all. There is no winner. The Braver Angels online debates rapidly grew popular, and have been attended by thousands across the country.

Green Canopy NODE | 2019 – present

Green Canopy NODE is an industry leader in the Pacific Northwest designing and building affordable, net-zero ready homes. Clif and his wife inherited 6-1/2 acres of woodland on Bainbridge Island in 2018. Sold as usual, the forest would likely be cut down and replaced by oversized houses with little thought of sustainability. Clif envisioned a different future. Over several months of meetings, Clif forged a unique partnership with Green Canopy NODE to develop a cluster of seven small to medium-sized sustainable and healthy homes in one area of the Bainbridge property, leaving the majority of the forest intact except for walking paths to be enjoyed for future generations. The hope is this project will inspire others to embrace more community-based, sustainable development on Bainbridge Island. Construction will begin summer 2023. 

Musician | 2017 – present
The Alaska Suite: a story of beauty, loss and hope

Created by Clif’s wife, Nelda Swiggett, the Alaska Suite engages the power of artistic expression — live music performed by a chamber jazz quintet, spoken words, images and poetry — to connect audiences deeply and emotionally to the scientific realities of climate change. Clif has contributed his musicianship (trombone/percussion) and technical skills (multimedia set up and more) to 31 live performances to date, touching nearly 2000 people with its message of hope and call to action.

Chairman of the Board | 2005-2014
Genesis House

Genesis House provided long term drug treatment for up to 60 residents. The treatment program focused on long-term rehabilitation of clients. Genesis House had some of the highest treatment success rates in the state. Clif served on the Genesis House board for 9 years, including 4 years as board chair. In 2013 Genesis House sold a half city block in the Seattle Madrona neighborhood and used the proceeds to provide major grants of $1M+ to several drug treatment centers around the state.

Solar Energy for Shikha School | 2011

Clif and his Nepali coworker Tilak designed and built a solar-powered computer lab for Tilak’s remote home village of Shikha in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Shikha school hired a teacher to train young students in the computer lab, and the program is functioning well to this day. 

It all began when Tilak told Clif about his childhood in Nepal. Born in a remote mountain village, accessible only by foot, he grew up without electricity and with a barebones education. At age 15, he tested into the elite fighting force, the Gurkhas. After serving 8 years in Singapore, Tilak came to the U.S. to study computer science. He explained that his path to education and opportunity was rare. In his present day home village, there was still no access to computers for learning and developing job skills. Electricity and the internet had finally arrived a few years earlier, but was so unreliable (cycling on and off multiple times a day), that any computers donated to the school were useless. Tilak dreamed of improving education in Shikha, and Clif was an enthusiastic listener. Together they decided to bring a solar-powered computer lab to the Shikha school.

Over several months, Clif and Tilak raised money for the project; designed the system; purchased a solar array, battery storage and laptops; and then negotiated their way through a complex (and corrupt) political system — with key help from Tilak’s Nepali friends and family — to import the materials into Nepal and have them delivered to the village. In September 2011, Tilak, Clif and Clif’s wife and two sons spent three weeks in Shikha, Nepal, building the solar system and computer lab in collaboration with local villagers.

Clarence Acox Jazz Endowment Coordinator / Webmaster | 2010-2014
Garfield Jazz Foundation

The Clarence Acox Jazz Endowment was founded in 2004 to honor the enduring legacy of Clarence Acox, who founded the Garfield Jazz program and led it for 40 years. The endowment is used to help Garfield jazz students with demonstrated financial need pay for private music instruction. It is also used to pay the Jazz Band 3 instructor, and to fund outreach programs to elementary and middle schools that feed into Garfield High School to increase the number and diversity of qualified students for the Garfield Jazz program.

Vice President of Programs | 2002-2005
Music Works Northwest

Music Works Northwest is a non-profit community music school that offers music lessons, music therapy and performance experiences for all ages. Its mission is to change lives through accessible music education and experiences.