New York Times Lists San Diegan for ‘Californian of the Year’

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Nicole Capretz can’t compete with Elon Musk, Vin Scully or Kamala Harris in name recognition. But she’s among those and other famed finalists for the title Californian of the Year.

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Nicole Capretz is shown biking to work at San Diego City Hall in 2014 video. Image via Vimeo.

The honor is bestowed by The New York Times, which Wednesday named Climate Action Campaign Executive Director Capretz as one of the top 10 Californians of the Year.

“The Climate Action Campaign founder is a force in environmental advocacy in San Diego,” says her mini-bio. Others listed are Gov. Jerry Brown, Andy Bales, Betty Chinn, Marc Benioff, Barbara Boxer and Colin Kaepernick.

Capretz, a 47-year-old environmental attorney, is known for her work crafting San Diego’s clean energy Climate Action Plan.

On Twitter, Capretz said: “No idea how I made this elite @nytimes list,” but modestly sought support in an online poll. (Only those logged into can vote.)

“After the results are in, we’ll reveal a winner by the end of the year,” the Times said.

In a May 2015 interview with, Capretz said her environmental passion was sparked at age 19 or 20 when her father, unhappy with her college grades, said, “You must do an internship this summer.”

He placed her with a group, she says, despite Nicole not having experience or interest in the subject.

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“This is in the ’90s, so this is way ahead of the curve and I didn’t even know what solar energy was or wind energy,” she said. “So I just got schooled, but I was also inspired probably more than anything and it really just galvanized my interest and I then went back to school and I got straight A’s and I took environmental classes and I went to environmental law school.”

Suddenly, she said, “I had purpose, and I always give credit to the guy I worked for in D.C. and he’s this kind of curmudgeonly activist … so passionate. … He helped shape my life, which is pretty incredible but, and he probably doesn’t even know that but it worked and so that kind of passion for renewable energy never went away.”

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