Michelle De Blasi
Partner, Quarles & Brady
Attorney Michelle De Blasi is passionate about the work she does on issues concerning the environment.
After completing her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University, De Blasi attended law school at the University of Washington and worked for the federal government for six years on oil spills and other environmental cases. She returned to Arizona, and worked for the attorney general’s office for one year in the environmental section.
In 2004, De Blasi joined Quarles & Brady. As a partner with the law firm she practices in the area of environmental and natural resources law. She assists clients in getting permits, navigating enforcement actions and does renewable energy work.
De Blasi became the firm’s Valley Forward representative in 2007. She jumped right in as a board and executive committee member. De Blasi works on the entries committee for Valley Forward’s signature fall event, the Environmental Excellence Awards. Last year, she served her second term as chair of the energy committee, a new endeavor responsible for organizing meetings and events, building membership and planning educational field trips for members.
“We are involved because it (Valley Forward) provides great networking opportunities with nature business leaders in the community,” De Blasi says. “As a firm we have many clients that are members as well, and we can interact with them on a different level.”
De Blasi says the organization serves as an educational source. Valley Forward tries to take a neutral stance on environmental policies because it has such a diverse membership. Rather than take sides, Valley Forward holds educational forums where it explains what the policies are about.
“Valley Forward is such a great way to stay on top of the issues that are happening out there,” De Blasi explains.
The energy committee planned a debate in the fall with the candidates for state corporation commission. Members of Valley Forward met the candidates and talked about renewable energy credits.
“(Valley Forward) brings the most value to be able to do things I love doing, and interact with things I really like on issues I care about the most,” De Blasi says.
De Blasi adds the biggest challenge for Valley Forward is maintaining membership. When companies are faced with smaller budgets, outside memberships are usually the first thing to get cut. Despite companies cutting ties with the organization, some individuals have chosen to stay on as members because they have a passion for the organization, and believe it is important.
“Valley Forward is rare in the audience it serves, being so wide and large,” De Blasi says. “It is a great organization, and is run very well.”