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Municipal Climate Action: Sustainability Officers
About this Event
This series brings together leaders and policymakers from municipalities, communities, and urban planning groups to discuss their efforts to build climate change resilience, with a focus on how climatetech startups can get involved.
The second installment of this series features sustainability officers from towns and cities in the United States. Sustainability directors have become increasingly influential in towns and cities, gaining more responsibility and authority. They continue to be champions for sustainability and resilience measures, but more than ever must also act as the honest brokers on all things sustainable. Their credibility and the success of climate resilience and justice projects rely on setting proper expectations, maintaining standards, vetting technologies and companies, and serving the town’s best interest.
This session is a great opportunity to learn how our community can best support them in this pivotal balancing act.
- Jonathan Koehn, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Boulder
- Kate Hanley, Director of Sustainability, Concord, MA
- Lara Cottingham, Chief of Staff and Sustainability Officer, City of Houston
- Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Director, Office of Sustainability and Environment, City of Somerville
Jonathan Koehn serves as the Chief Sustainability & Resilience officer for the City of Boulder. Jonathan oversees the integration of the City’s climate, environmental and resilience efforts into Boulder’s overall sustainability framework. He works to support the community’s efforts to make Boulder an increasingly sustainable and resilient city by fostering partnerships and finding creative ways to solve problems. Jonathan’s multifaceted career includes substantial experience in the not-for-profit sectors and municipal government. He began his tenure in Boulder as the Environmental Manager for the city in 2006, and has continued to work with federal, state, regional and local governments and their constituencies domestically and internationally to develop strategic and tactical solutions to energy and climate challenges. Jonathan holds degrees in Environmental Science, Biology and Marine Sciences.
Kate Hanley is Director of Sustainability for the Town of Concord, MA. The Town has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. In her role, she is responsible for developing and implementing programs, policies and initiatives to achieve the Town’s climate and sustainability goals. Previously, Kate worked at Environmental Defense Fund in Boston where she managed EDF Climate Corps, a network of professionals united to advance climate solutions and the leading graduate fellowship program in energy and sustainability. Kate holds a dual degree from Clark University, MBA and M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy, as well as a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department and the Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Houston. In addition to leading the Mayor’s Sustainability Office, Lara is the public face of ARA in the media as well as before City Council, industry stakeholders, and customers.
Prior to joining the City of Houston, Lara was a member of Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Houston office, providing strategic counsel in sustainability and social responsibility issues for a broad range of clients across the energy sector. Lara worked in Washington, DC and served as Communications Director for the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Vice Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Caucus, as well as for congressional campaigns in Colorado, West Virginia, and Texas. She also produced a web-based reality show for CNN and served as a Government & Marketing Consultant for SXSW Interactive in Austin.
Lara attended the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated magna cum laude with degrees in History, Ancient History & Classical Civilizations, and Government. In 2013, she earned an MBA in Energy Finance and Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, where she co-founded the UT Energy Savings Fund.
Oliver Sellers-Garcia is the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) in Somerville, Massachusetts. OSE is responsible for sustainability of municipal operations, as well as policy, programs, and long-range planning for the community. He leads initiatives on climate, resource conservation, and environmental protection in Somerville. Recent and initiatives include the release of Somerville’s first climate action plan, municipal and residential energy efficiency, greenhouse gas accounting and modeling, solid waste reduction and diversion, and regional resilience planning. Somerville, located in the inner core of the Boston urban area, is the densest city in New England and in 2014 became the first city in Massachusetts to set a community-wide 2050 carbon neutrality target. Prior to joining the City of Somerville, he worked for eight years at the environmental consulting firm CDM Smith, helping clients around the country and the world integrate sustainability and climate change into physical and organizational planning. Sellers-Garcia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Columbia University and a Master’s in City Planning from MIT.