This marks the fourth year that GreenBiz has anointed a 30 Under 30 class of outstanding emerging leaders in sustainability. Collectively, 120 souls have carried the honor forward in their work and on their resumes since 2016. We checked in with the 90 previous “30U30s” for updates on their latest professional challenges and accomplishments. They responded from Seattle to New York City to Prague and beyond. Here are dispatches from those who checked in. The responses, in random order, have been lightly edited for style and clarity.
Liz Lowe (2016)
Innovation Lead, Sustainability and Social Impact, Adobe; San Francisco
Since 2016, I’ve been building and scaling the Adobe Digital Academy, an alternative and accelerated pathway into tech careers. Through the program, Adobe sponsors career switchers from nontraditional backgrounds to attend a three-month web development or bootcamp. Qualified students have the opportunity to interview for an apprenticeship at Adobe, and afterwards, many go on to full-time entry-level positions. Candidates are supported by a system of mentors, ongoing feedback and a close community of fellow participants. We partner closely with local nonprofits to source candidates, such as Year Up, Upwardly Global, IRC and Hack the Hood. The Adobe Digital Academy recently was named on Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas List.
Chris Castro (2016)
Director of Sustainability and Resilience; city of Orlando, Florida
I’ve been able to secure $2.5 million for Orlando through the American Cities Climate Challenge to support our work in reducing carbon emissions, specifically for new building energy efficiency programs, electric bus transition for transit authority, and expanding solar power at scale for government operations and citywide. I was elected as the vice-chair of the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), the statewide cleantech research institution. I helped to develop the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative of eight counties and 80 cities. I secured the USGBC grant to pilot LEED for Cities and Communities, providing Orlando with an opportunity to be one of the first in the United States to achieve citywide LEED certification.
I was honored to be designated a U.S. “Public Official of the Year” by Governing Magazine — the youngest, as well as the only sustainability leader in a city. I was also featured in the National Geographic documentary on climate change, “Paris to Pittsburgh,” as well as in The New York Times for my work on “floating solar” aka “floatovolatics.”
Emily Grady (2016)
Manager, Food & Nature, World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Geneva, Switzerland
I moved to WBCSD’s headquarters to join our Food & Nature team and am leading our work on the True Value of Food. We’re working with multinational companies in the food and agriculture sector to create a system in which sustainable companies are rewarded by consumers, policymakers, investors, employees and other stakeholders for prioritizing sustainability factors in business strategy and decision-making.
In the same way business has long measured, monitored and valued financial capital, we are working with companies to systematically measure, monitor and value non-financial capital — the ways in which doing business impacts and depends on resources from nature, society and human systems. Eventually, our hope is to help rewire “business as usual” so that risks and opportunities linked to natural, social, human and financial capital drive new, sustainable business models.
Miguel CuUnjieng (2016)
Environmental and Social Risk Management — Business Initiatives Consultant, Wells Fargo; San Francisco
It continues to be a time of significant change at Wells Fargo, including for environmental and social strategy development. While it has seemed to me that the financial sector generally moves as a pack with respect to sustainability issues, I am excited by the work being done in Wells Fargo’s Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) team, which will be reflected in upcoming disclosures and other materials. Among these topics will be information related to the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures recommendations and the continued evolution of portfolio-related environmental and social risk analysis and management practices at Wells Fargo.
Danielle Joseph (2018)
Director and Investment Officer, Closed Loop Partners; New York City
I have been focused on growing the Closed Loop Ventures portfolio, leading investments into incredible companies supporting the circular economy. Our newest companies contributing to less waste in the circular economy and improved resource use are focused on food waste — Cambridge Crops and Atlas Organics — and transportation and supply chain efficiencies — TradeLanes and CoLoadX. We are also thrilled to continue working with our other 11 amazing entrepreneurs. Transactions in the last year included HomeBiogas, AMP Robotics, For Days, CurbMyClutter, Linhaus and Rebound Technologies.
It’s exciting to be part of the growing circular economy ecosystem and supporting each-others’ activities, such as judging the Center for the Circular Economy’s NextGen Cup Challenge and the Urban Future Smart City Prize Competition, and speaking at New York’s first Circular Cities Week. I continue to be optimistic about the future of the circular economy and investing for both positive financial and environmental returns.
David Harary (2017)
Program Analyst, ASRC Federal/NOAA Satellite and Information Service; Washington, D.C.
In this role, I help manage the headquarters budget of NOAA Satellites and align the agency’s staffing needs with financial resources. I also serve as the board chair of the Center for Development and Strategy, and have in the last year published articles on climate security with the Jerusalem Post and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat. My passion for earth observation satellites and national security is influenced by increasing global insecurity in an era of unprecedented environmental change.
Kavickumar Muruganathan (2016)
Deputy Director for Sustainability, HeveaConnect; Singapore
I’m responsible for the development and implementation of sustainability and environmental, health and safety services standards at HeveaConnect, the world’s first global digital platform for sustainably processed natural rubber. HeveaConnect meets the need for an industry-wide solution for natural rubber that is sustainably and responsibly sourced at fair prices. Shareholders include Halcyon Agri Corporation Limited, the world’s largest natural rubber producer; DBS Bank, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ largest bank; and Japan’s leading trading company, ITOCHU Corporation of Japan.
Christina Copeland (2016)
Senior Manager, Water Security, CDP; New York City
A continuous underlying theme to my work is increasing the quantity and quality of water disclosure responses from companies and cities. We then turn this data into insights, such as CDP’s 2018 Global Water Report (PDF) and the State by State Report (PDF) with chapters focused on water risks in the Colorado River basin. Additionally, I’ve been supporting a newer stream of work for CDP on accelerating green infrastructure investments in cities. Finally, working in partnership with the CEO Water Mandate, The Nature Conservancy, the United Nations Environment Program-DHI Center on Water and Environment, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund, I’ve been representing CDP’s participation in developing best practice guidance for robust corporate water targets. The guidance is open for public consultation until June 14.
John Bello (2018)
Engineer, Skanska USA; Los Angeles and Prague
After becoming a 30 Under 30 honoree, I helped lead my team in delivering the Westside Purple Line Extension, Section 1 project with Envision Platinum; proving once again that like buildings, even large infrastructure can be built green. I also served as an adviser on sustainability for the 6th Street Bridge replacement project in downtown Los Angeles and the I-5 North Coast project in San Diego. Both projects are pursuing Envision certification.
Earlier this year, I relocated from Los Angeles to Prague, Czech Republic for a six-month assignment as I am working on a riverfront commercial property that is pursuing both a LEED v4.1 and WELL v2 Platinum certification. My work involves analyzing our budget and compliance with both rating systems, as well as drafting reports on the biomimetic features of the project. I am very proud to be part of such an innovative and progressive team. As my first time in Europe, it has been an amazing opportunity to learn from the experience of my Czech colleagues.
Una Hrnjak (2018)
Senior Manager of Global Sustainability, Gap; San Francisco
I’m continuing efforts to support the work at Gap Inc. on women’s advancement in the supply chain. Through my leadership with the Gap and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Women + Water Alliance, the program has helped reach over 38,000 women through Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. program in India to-date and will aim to reach 200,000 women by 2021. Through this work, I’m helping manage partners in India that are also working in these communities to gain better water and sanitation access. In addition, I partnered with Banana Republic, one of Gap’s signature brands, on the launch of its product sustainability goals (which went live on Earth Day) focused on the sourcing of more sustainable fibers, water reduction in the manufacturing process and the use of cleaner chemistry.
Aaron Tartakovsky (2017)
Co-founder and CEO, Epic CleanTec
Epic took first place at the Innovation Showcase of the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, opening up many exciting opportunities. Our first Epic facility is up and running in downtown San Francisco, featuring a rooftop greenhouse and a showcase garden using our very own upcycled soil. After a year of successful piloting with Stanford University’s Codiga Resource Recovery Center, we secured approvals from the city of San Francisco for our first building installation into a 39-story residential high rise. Finally, on the regulatory front, we lobbied successfully for the passage of California Senate Bill 966 (“Onsite Treated Non-potable Water Systems”), signed into law in December, which will accelerate decentralized wastewater reuse throughout the state and across the nation.
Willemijn Brouwer (2018)
Lead Sustainability Engagement and Learning, DSM, and Global Coordinator for One Young World; Amsterdam, Netherlands
I’ve focused on workshops for colleagues in marketing and sales in China, Japan and the United States to see how we can use sustainability to connect with our customers — overall, great fun. Next, I’m working with colleagues from HR, procurement and communications to bring “purpose to the workplace” — we stimulate our regional presidents to become sustainability ambassadors and to ensure our employees can feel in their local office we are taking it seriously. In this light, I also coordinated a global campaign around Earth Day: 100 sites and 4,000 employees participated in activities such as waste cleanups, healthy cooking workshops and farmer markets to raise awareness.
Lastly, I’m managing DSM’s delegation to One Young World, a thought leader summit for sustainability where inspiring political leaders, CEOs and activists connect with young talents from different sectors. We’ve doubled the size of our group, sending 45 colleagues from all our businesses and regions. Seeing the patchwork of nationalities and backgrounds in one room was really great, not only for its diversity but also because it assured me we have nurtured sustainability ambassadors everywhere.
Anthony Santarelli (2017)
Director, Illinois Green Business Association; Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
My organization, the Illinois Green Business Association (IGBA) hosted the National Green Business Engagement Network’s Summit in Chicago, where green business programs from across the country came to collaborate and learn from each other. I also participated in my first environmental lobby day at the state capital, where I joined over 500 people with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition to speak with policymakers and advocate for the Clean Energy Jobs Act. This legislation could lay the groundwork for actually implementing Green New Deal-style policy across the country. Also, the IGBA looks forward to launching the new online version of our Green Business Certification Program this summer. Lastly, I’m excited to release an environmental protest music video in the coming weeks.
Catherine Queen (2017)
Manager, Sustainable Development at Danone North America; Denver
Since Danone North America achieved B Corp Certification in 2018, I’ve been integrating the mission and values of the movement into all aspects of our company. It’s important that we engage employees and help them understand how their daily job impacts certification. To do that, I designed and delivered workshops to create tailored roadmaps so employees can incorporate B Corp principles into their strategic planning and individual goals.
I’ve also been working to recruit more companies to join the B Corp movement. Within our Danone family, I’ve shared best practices and supported various other business’ efforts to obtain certification. Outside of Danone, I’ve counseled over 150 senior leaders at dozens of other organizations and provided B Lab meaningful tools I designed.
Ricardo Magallon (2018)
Green Operations Specialist, San Francisco International Airport
Last summer, I developed and implemented a more thorough materials (or waste) characterization study with my team. We weighed all compost, recycling and landfill streams that came into 17 of SFO’s Material Recovery Areas and discovered that 86 percent of the mass headed to landfill was compostable or recyclable. This has prompted us to increase waste diversion trainings for tenants and update our waste signage throughout the airport. We are beginning another characterization study this summer to check the impact. I’m also in the process of developing a Materials Attribute Table for SFO’s first back-of-house waste audits this coming fall. These audits will tell us the weight and volume of individual items going into each material stream at individual airport businesses.
Devan Tracy (2018)
Smart Buildings and Energy Analytics Lead, Lockheed Martin; Washington, D.C.
My title has changed from senior energy engineer to smart buildings and energy analytics Lead. Why? Data. If we spend half the time analyzing data, we can spend twice as much time doing something with the data. Lockheed Martin is in the middle of a digital transformation changing the way we work and making us more efficient and productive. Energy analytics and fault detection and diagnostics are a natural part of optimizing our operations with technology of the fourth industrial revolution.
I spoke at the Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Summit on this topic. I also traveled to Ecuador with 10 other global change-makers for the Corporate Eco Forum Sustainability Leadership Development Program, focused on harnessing the power of scale to drive bold, transformational change versus incremental change. On a personal note, I published my second album of original music and became a licensed professional engineer.
Joseph Gale (2018)
Aviation Environmental Specialist, RS&H; San Francisco
I’ve completed a master’s degree in sustainable management at the University of Wisconsin and authored the first RS&H Sustainability Report using Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards guidelines. Through collaboration with an internal cross-practice committee, we are working towards implementation of an internal RS&H corporate sustainability program. I aspire to create a corporate sustainability program at my company, complete with sustainability initiatives and annual reporting. In April, I participated as a guest speaker with an environmental science graduate course at Johns Hopkins University and plan to continue my involvement.
Lisa Curtis (2016)
Founder and CEO, Kuli Kuli; Oakland, California
Kuli Kuli is selling our moringa bars, powder and energy shots in 7,000 stores. This has enabled us to partner with over 1,200 moringa farmers, planting millions of moringa trees across nearly a dozen countries. We also brought on some new investor partners to help us scale, including two of the largest food companies in the world, Kellogg’s and Griffith Foods.
Courtney Small (2017)
Sustainability Specialist, Etsy; New York City
I’m a sustainability and branding strategist working with companies to develop and execute consumer-facing sustainability initiatives. In my role as sustainability specialist at Etsy, I helped define and execute its recent initiative to become the first e-commerce company to offset 100 percent of its emissions from shipping. My co-host Tyler Daluz and I recently launched The Environmental Breakdown, a comedy podcast about climate change. Climate change, but make it wellness.
Jake Hiller (2017)
Sustainable Finance Manager, EDF+Business; Boston
I am leading the EDF+Business initiative to accelerate clean energy in key U.S. states such as Florida and New Jersey. This includes organizing the Powering Ohio coalition, made up of leading businesses that want to accelerate clean energy throughout the state, to attract billions in new investment and create thousands of jobs. I also recently helped to launch a new EDF initiative to accelerate the deployment of resilient, low-carbon microgrids in Puerto Rico following the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.
On the move
After five years at Cummins, Lauren Kastner (2017) is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Kyle Tafuri (2016) is director of sustainability at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey. Claire Castleman (2018) is research analyst at NCGrowth in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and member of the Board of Directors for Alliance for the Great Lakes. Jillian Lennartz (2016) is an independent writer and consultant. Sasha Calder (2016) is director of sustainability at Beautycounter in the Los Angeles area. Sunny Sohrabian (2017) is manager, sustainability, at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in Los Angeles. Lizzie Horvitz (2017) is chief operating officer at revolv, which operates a network of reusable cups and bottles in New York City. Ryan Bradley (2017) is a research scientist in sustainability at Amazon in Seattle.