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Perspectives on Sustainability: Meet our Panelists

10 Nov 2020 11:46 AM | Anonymous

On December 1, SWEP Three Rivers will host Perspectives on Sustainability, a virtual panel discussion featuring leaders in sustainability across the Pittsburgh region. Our moderator will be Kari Mackenbach, Director of Sustainability for MS Consultants, and our panelists include:

  • Aurora Sharrard, PhD, Director of Sustainability at University of Pittsburgh,
  • Elisabeth Udyawar, Relationships and Development Director with the Green Building Alliance,
  • Kimberly Kipin-McDonald, Head of Sustainable Development North America for Covestro,
  • Rebecca Kiernan, Principal Resilience Planner at the City of Pittsburgh, 
  • Joylette Portlock, PhD, Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, and
  • Diamonte Walker, Deputy Executive Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.

Registration is available on our website, but space is limited!

Register here. Learn a bit about our featured moderator and panelists here:

Kari Mackenbach is the Director of Sustainability for MS Consultants. She has more than 26 years of project management experience in many facets of sustainability, resiliency planning, stormwater and floodplain management across the Country. Kari’s professional experience provides her with unique capabilities to work with communities and other professionals on multiple levels as it relates to sustainability and, more specifically, integrated planning efforts.

Some of these efforts include the development of sustainable green infrastructure programs that help communities quantify and implement green initiatives for long-term benefits, the development of defensible benefit/cost analyzes for the use of green infrastructure, stormwater and floodplain program development, sustainable site development criteria, watershed planning and implementation. In addition, Kari is a strong advocate for diversity in the workforce and will be speaking at the next ACEC conference on the topic of Diversity in the Workplace in 2021.

Dr. Aurora Sharrard is the Director of Sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh, tasked with enabling the Pitt Sustainability Plan, which formalizes decades of university-led and partnered initiatives at the intersection of equity, environment, and economics.  In pursuit of the Plan’s 61 measurable goals, she leads Pitt’s Office of Sustainability, cross-departmental sustainability staff, and University-wide sustainability strategy, activities, policies, collaborations, and partnerships.  Building on past progress and successes, Dr. Sharrard and her colleagues work daily across the spectrum of sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, incorporating sustainability into the curriculum, providing access and opportunity to all, transparently communicating progress, and embedding a culture of sustainability into the University of Pittsburgh so that it’s a sustainability leader in every scale, from campus to international.

Prior to joining the University, Dr. Sharrard worked at Green Building Alliance (GBA) for 11 years, ultimately serving as its Executive Director. In her time at GBA, Dr. Sharrard most notably co-founded the Pittsburgh 2030 District, which boasts 500+ buildings aspiring towards measured high performance of 50% reductions in energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by the year 2030.  The University of Pittsburgh was a Founding Property Partner of the Pittsburgh 2030 District’s Oakland boundary – and embraced 2030 Challenge goals University-wide with the Pitt Sustainability Plan.

A nationally recognized green building and sustainability expert, Dr. Sharrard has also provided strategic and technical support to innumerable regional green building and sustainability projects, inlcluding Hazelwood Green, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Dr. Sharrard holds a master’s and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with an emphasis in Green Design from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University.  She serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Higher Education Climate Consortium, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services’ Board of Directors, Will Allen Foundation’s Board of Directors, the International Living Future Institute’s Pittsburgh Living Product Hub Advisory Council, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s Sustainability Committee.

Follow on Twitter (@SustainablePitt & @AuroraSharrard) and Instagram or connect on LinkedIn.

Elisabeth Udyawar serves as Green Building Alliance’s Relationships and Development Director. In her role at GBA, she specializes in strategic network building to direct GBA’s strategic fundraising and development. With an eye towards equity and innovation, Elisabeth cultivates cross-sector partnerships, fostering a diverse community of national and regional thought leaders. She manages sponsor and member engagement, in addition to organizing key events including Women+ in Green and Emerald Evening Gala.

Prior to GBA,  Elisabeth administered several of Carnegie Mellon University’s different research institutes over seven years. She supported the CMU team established the Manufacturing Futures Initiatives, which also funded CMU’s Mill19 development at Hazelwood Green. As the Coordinator for the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making, Elisabeth fostered collaboration through legislative workshops, a climate speakers series, and interagency workshops in Washington DC. Elisabeth holds a Master of Arts in English Literature from The George Washington University, specializing in Post-colonial Literature in South Asia.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of California Riverside, and has also studied at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England.

Follow on Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook.

Kim Kipin-McDonald is a sustainable development leader with wide-ranging experience across a variety of disciplines including energy and emissions data management systems, supply chain sustainability and circular economy.

Kim promotes the potential for every organizational function to contribute to transformative change and she continuously capitalizes on this belief to advance efforts through the value chain.  Driving Covestro’s non-financial targets through digitalization and advanced analytics and ongoing cross-sector partnerships have resulted in internal and external awards and recognition. Kim is a member of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Advisory Committee, which advises the Department of Environmental Protection on implementing the 2008 Pennsylvania Climate Change Act.

Prior to leading sustainable development at Covestro, Kim served in multiple positions at Bayer, including regional head of sustainability governance, partnership initiatives for sustainable building and construction, and environmental risk and product stewardship programs. She developed her passion for motivating people of all walks of life to appreciate and become active participants in environmental stewardship with her first role at The Pittsburgh Zoo, where she created the Education Outreach ZOOmobile program. 

Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh and graduate degrees in both environmental science & management and science education from Duquesne University.

Rebecca Kiernan is a Principal Resilience Planner with the City of Pittsburgh, focusing on building social, ecological, economic, and physical resilience to city-wide shocks and stresses. Her work includes developing and implementing initiatives such as the ONEPGH Preliminary Resilience Assessment, Resilience Strategy and Investment Prospectus; the Pittsburgh Equity Indicators Reports; and aligning the City’s work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She also supports the City’s Climate Action Plan with a focus on transportation electrification, zero waste, and urban ecosystems initiatives.

Rebecca was previously Sustainability Coordinator for the Township of Moon, worked in coastal livelihoods restoration in Indonesia, and has 7 years of experience in education and facilitation. She holds a BA in English and Education from SUNY Geneseo, and an MS in Public Policy and Management with a focus on Environmental Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. She’s a board member of Three Rivers Waterkeepers and serves on ALCOSAN’s Municipal Advisory Committee and the City’s Shade Tree Commission.

Follow on Twitter and Instagram.

Dr. Joylette Portlock earned her PhD in genetics at Stanford after studying biology and anthropology at MIT. Her area of expertise is climate change, more specifically, communicating its potential perils and strategies to combat them.  

In addition to creating the climate change communication nonprofit Communitopia, and the series of videos, “Don’t just sit there—do something,” Joylette worked for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project. She also served as Western Pennsylvania Outreach Coordinator with PennFuture, a statewide environmental advocacy group where she worked with the organization’s members, elected officials, and the public on energy, air, water, mining, and transportation issues.

Sustainable Pittsburgh is about equity, environment, and energy—a future with opportunity for all. Joylette's plan includes building opportunities for all communities and stakeholders to be involved in the environmental issues that affect their lives.

Follow on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Diamonte Walker is the Deputy Executive Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (URA), where she provides strategy, vision, operations management, team development, and leadership. Diamonte joined the agency in 2017, quickly becoming the driving force behind URA’s MWBE strategy. Her commitment to the advancement of equitable development is demonstrated through the administration of the URA’s MWBE Program, compliance monitoring, reporting functions, and other economic inclusion focused initiatives.

With a career span of more than 15 years in the for-profit sector and having recently served as a business development program manager in the non-profit sector, Diamonte understands the complex challenges we face as a region when trying to effectuate meaningful change in neighborhoods. Diamonte offers a serious look at what can happen when we expand the work of economic development beyond metrics, goals and buzzwords to create impactful experiences that empower people while transforming place.

Diamonte holds an MBA and Master of Science in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University. She is a Mayoral appointee to Pittsburgh’s Land Bank Board, serves on the Neighborhood Allies and InnovatePgh boards, and currently sits on the Housing Opportunity Fund’s Advisory Board. Her notable achievements include being named one of the Pittsburgh Business Times 2019 Women of Influence, a 2019 Lead Now Pittsburgh Fellow, a 2018 Onyx Woman in Leadership, 2017 Pittsburgh Magazine 40 under 40 honoree, and 2016 New Pittsburgh Courier Fab 40 Under 40 awardee. She was recently named one of Talk Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Pennsylvanian African-American Women. She is strongly committed to helping entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds take full advantage of today’s marketplace innovations to cost-effectively operationalize their ideas and better position themselves to experience an equitable stake in Pittsburgh’s economic resurgence.

Follow on Twitter (Ms. Walker & URA), Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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Three Rivers Society of Women Environmental Professionals

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