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Perspectives on Sustainability: Meet our Panelists

14 Sep 2020 11:46 AM | Anonymous

On October 1, SWEP Three Rivers will host Perspectives on Sustainability, a virtual panel discussion featuring leaders in sustainability across the Pittsburgh region. 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, and
  • Rebecca Kiernan, Principal Resilience Planner at the City of Pittsburgh.

Registration is available on our website, but space is limited! Register here. Learn a bit about our featured panelists here:

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.

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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.

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