Bryan von Lossberg, MS 2007
Missoula City Council President & Conservation Land Manager
Bryan von Lossberg
By Bryony Schwan
Bryan, who grew up in La Canada in the San Gabriel mountains near Pasadena, California, currently lives in Missoula with his wife Genevieve Jessop Marsh, an EVST alum, and their daughter Austen. Bryan and Genevieve met during their first year in EVST.
Bryan serves as the Missoula City Council President, a job he describes as almost a full-time. He also works as the Conservation Land Manager for a 200-acre family property on Nevada Creek (a tributary of the Blackfoot River) near Helmsville, Montana. “I spend twenty to thirty percent of my time managing the property, including activities like our Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grants and collaborating with the Blackfoot Challenge.” Bryan says Genevieve's parents bought the land about eight years ago when Austen was born—it was old Plum Creek land that had had extensive timber extraction, but is now protected with a conservation easement. “I love this work. It’s the family’s restoration project.”
While Bryan has tackled many issues on the Missoula City Council, a center piece of his work has been the acquisition of the water utility from the international financial giant, Carlyle Group. “I was very engaged in this project and worked closely with the mayor and legal team and testified in the condemnation case.” Another issue Bryan worked on was common sense gun legislation. He sponsored local legislation for firearm background checks. “Unfortunately,” says Bryan, “it was challenged by the Attorney General in the Montana Supreme Court and we lost the case. But, while we lost the case, we still managed to move the needle on this issue.” It is through this issue that Bryan met another EVST alum, the late Tom Platt and began working with him. “He provided excellent testimony on the issue and became a passionate advocate. We then worked together on the 100% Clean Electricity Initiative with the Missoula County Commission. Tom was the primary author of the Options Report that was a foundation of the initiative.”
What environmental issues are you passionate about and how did the EVST program help you?
Bryan says his passion for clean, renewable energy because of the climate change implications is a bit different than when he first came to EVST. “I was interested in science, resource protection and wilderness. I already had an engineering degree and was working in Lake Tahoe in an environmental leadership program. When I came to EVST, I was looking for a truly inter-disciplinary program. EVST provided me with innumerable relationships—students and faculty who were so smart, so passionate, so active. Inspirational really. People who had a lot of choices of what they could earn and do, but were driven by ethics, passion and convictions."
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Bryan says he is most proud of the three City Council initiatives—the water utility acquisition, the steps the city has taken to move towards 100% clean energy and the firearm background checks. “I’m most proud of the process around the background checks.”
Prior to coming to EVST, Bryan worked on the Hubble telescope repair mission at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “I worked on the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission and led the work on a sub-system. It was the first mission to Mars that deployed a rover (which at that time was the size of a small laptop, now they are the size of cars). This led to the success of future missions,” says Bryan. “This is the most extraordinary science on the planet—it is changing our view of the solar system.” Bryan adds, “Back then, I never thought that I would be saving Matt Damon's life in a future movie.”
EVST has long known Bryan's big-hearted thoughtfulness, and now all of Missoula benefits from it. He's the conscience of city council. He pursues big ideas because they're the right thing to do. He led the fight to take back Missoula's water system. He stuck his neck out in pushing the background check ordinance because he knew it would save lives. Now his intellect and moral clarity are guiding council's decisions around COVID-19. We're damn lucky to have him working on our behalf. `
~ Mathew Frank, Author, Educator & EVST alum.