Maggie Clancy is a Mom, a transportation professional, and a lover of all things healthy and sustainable. Simply put, the Illinois resident is a lover of all things that would ensure a healthy and livable planet for generations to come – especially electrification.
Basically, electrification is the process of replacing the use of fossil fuels like gas, coal, and oil with clean energy like electricity. And when it comes to electrification, Maggie literally has a dream – about school buses.
In Maggie’s ideal world there are still school buses that travel four billion miles a year, as the Environmental Protection Agency estimates, going back and forth, carrying more than 25 million children to school each day. In her ideal world, school buses would still symbolize the best of us: ideals about community, about education, about leadership development. “Almost everyone has a memory about a school bus,” she says. In Maggie’s mind, school buses are community symbols.
But there’s a caveat.
In her environmental advocacy dreams, school buses would not be the dirty diesel death traps that they are today. Diesel exhaust is cancer-causing. The microparticles of pollution that are emitted in diesel exhaust have been proven to go deep into the lungs. They are irritants of the worst order, causing other problems too, like coughing, nausea, headaches, medical complications for both the lungs and heart.
The diesel pollution inside the bus can be several times higher than even the pollution outside the bus. Tailpipe pollution can seep inside. So, children are getting a double dose of health impacting pollutants, every time they ride to school. Maggie Clancy knows that electric school buses solve these problems. They run on battery power and there are no tailpipe emissions, no diesel pollution, and no climate pollution. As a Mom to school-aged children, and as a Mothers Out Front activist, electrification efforts give her hope.
Her care and concern for the environment and how it affects others grows from the guidance of her parents, “I’m one of 7 kids. I grew up with parents who were always giving their time to the community, through their church, always connecting to those who were in need.” It is this upbringing that instilled the value of leaving a legacy.
As an Account Executive at the Leo Burnett agency, she enjoyed the spotlight; she worked hard, lots of hours, it was thrilling. “But there came a time when I was ready to go off on my own, I had done as much as I could do.”
A former colleague had a few projects to share. Maggie took the risk. One of her first opportunities was with National Express LLC, a transportation company that is the nation’s second largest provider of school bus operations.
“It was perfect for me,” she says. “As a Mom, I know what’s going on in schools and I could do something that I actually felt good doing.” So, helping electrify school bus fleets became her work task; from selling the idea to school boards, to getting parents and community involved, to helping meet infrastructure and financing needs – she threw herself into the whole operation.
Maggie has been dedicated to the electrification elements of the job for the last 8 months. With the election and inauguration of the Biden/Harris administration, she knew the opportunities would be even greater. “And especially with the COVID pandemic, we know that the air we breathe is essential to our health and wellness. For students and the drivers also, this is critically important.”
Whole fleets are now being electrified, she says. For our children, this will become their norm.
Maggie continues to work with the online Mothers Out Front activists in her area. And she has goals: her own school bus-related company might begin to take shape in the very near future.
Stay tuned for all the climate-affirming impact she will undoubtedly have on our world.