2021 Sustainability Champions

Congratulations to our 25 Pitt Sustainability Champions for 2021!

In recognition of their leadership and commitment to Pitt Sustainability, 25 members of the University community have been selected as 2021 Pitt Sustainability Champions.

We would like to celebrate these students, faculty, and staff members for their tremendous support of Pitt Sustainability’s efforts across campus, in Pittsburgh, and in the world over the past year or more.

Read on to hear why each person was nominated as a Sustainability Champion!

Undergraduate Students

Hannah Chen, Health Information Management (Class of 2021)

Hannah Chen has served as the Thriftsburgh Board Director and has been the driving force in Thriftsburgh’s efforts to create the online Thriftsburgh store. Hannah has worked tirelessly to keep the project on track, has worked closely with the University stores to troubleshoot AND created manuals and processes for the other store associates to follow. She has been the lynchpin to the process of creating the e-commerce site!

Anna Coleman, Global Studies  (Class of 2021)

Anna leads the peer training, coordination, and execution of the First Year Presentations that expose thousands of first-year students to sustainability in their seminar courses. She was critical in our AASHE STARS reporting, specifically in the Academic Credit portion. Anna is a fantastic student leader in MCSI, SOOS, Global Studies, and her organizations like Fossil Free Pitt!

Julianna Cooper, Geology and Environmental Science, Political Science  (Class of 2021)

Julianna has been actively involved in sustainability since she was a freshman on the green team. Her sophomore year, she joined as one of the first eco reps and helped develop the position. This year she is a Program Associate at the Student Office of Sustainability, the Communications chair for Plant2plate, and the Service chair for Epsilon Eta. She is involved in sustainability in every aspect of her life.

Zachary Delaney, Geology and Environmental Science (Class of 2021)

Zach is truly a student sustainability powerhouse! In his 4 years at Pitt, Zach has accomplished an extraordinary amount of work. Some of those accomplishments: -being the student team leader on the environmental justice alternative break in Washington. Greene and Beaver counties, -chairing the student coalition that advocated for the broad availability of disposable period products campus wide AND the Zero Waste Period campaign, – Serving as the Co-director of the Student Office of Sustainability and co-chairing the SOOS council through an extraordinary year, – acting as the manager of the green certification programs and now shepherding the program through a massive re-visioning.

Sydney DuBose, Geology and Environmental Science (Class of 2021)

As the sustainability and wellness RPT Sydney is committed to including sustainability in her work programming for all students. Her collaborations with the EcoReps have led to improvements in RA access to ready-made sustainability programs.

Maya Knee, French and Italian, Political Science (Class of 2021)

Maya began her journey as the Green Fund Allocations Board Director this year after serving on the board for the past two years. She has done a wonderful job this year leading the board through a tumultuous year. Given the difficulties of granting project-based funding during a pandemic, Maya has kept the board motivated and enthusiastic about long-term projects. As a member of the Student Office of Sustainability council, she plays an active role and lends her calm and practical voice to discussions about SOOS programs and initiatives. Maya will be missed by the Green Fund and the SOOS council when she graduates this year, but she has put both in a good place to continue and expand their work through her leadership and tenacity this year.

Anfernee La Cruz, Geology and Environmental Science (Class of 2021)

Anfernee has been involved in Pitt sustainability from his first year on campus! He joined the Pitt Green Team as an incoming first year and he has been an integral part of the SOOS ever since.  In his time with SOOS his accomplishments have been many- here are just a few: 1) managed the Green Events program, 2) assisted with the development of the Green Resident program, 3) grew the Pitt Green Team from a simple first year volunteer program to a dedicated pipeline for future student sustainability student leaders, 4) managed and coordinated endless service events for SOOS and PittServes in the past three years. Perhaps Anfernee’s most important achievement is that he has always made mentoring students particularly younger students his core goal.

Liz Logan, Geology and Environmental Science  (Class of 2021)

As a sustainability intern for BAS Liz has supported the Stores as they explore innovative ways to reduce waste and source more sustainable products. Liz worked closely with Nick Goodfellow to rewrite the Bike Pitt website and promote the Healthy Ride at Pitt program on social media.

Gabrielle Sampson, Geology and Environmental Science (Class of 2021)

Gabby has devoted her time at Pitt to service and has been an asset to Pitt Sustainability since joining us in the fall. She crafted two comprehensive Year of Engagement grant proposals – leading one on indoor air quality. She laid the foundation for the future outreach. She has also been crucial in developing content for our new social media accounts!

Louis Tierno, Geology and Environmental Science (Class of 2021)

Lou currently serves as the Coordinator of Affiliate Organizations for the Student Office of Sustainability and he serves as a member of the Student Office of Sustainability Council. In light of the pandemic, Lou worked to adjust his priorities and to advocate for the needs of SOOS affiliate orgs. He worked to continue the First Thursday tradition in an engaging, if virtual format. The SOOS has consistently had very good turn out for virtual programs this semester owing in large part to Lou’s determination and enthusiasm. He advocated that we needed to alter our expectations of affiliate organizations given current circumstances- and created a “hibernation” policy for affiliates, allowing them to prioritize their members needs.

Graduate Students

Eric Raabe, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, CONNECT

Eric came to Pitt/GSPIA with the goal of working with the DEP and local governments to develop climate action plans. His community engagement through CONNECT has led to 6 new local Climate Action Plans produced through his internship and creating more pathways for other Panthers to engage their Pitt sustainability work for real world impact. Because of his work, now all 40+ governments within CONNECT are working with other partners across campus on a Regional Climate Action Plan, aligning people and processes with the Marshall Plan and other big sustainability initiatives in our region.

Jessica Vaden, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering

Jessica performed this year’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the University of Pittsburgh, which has been a critical analysis for future planning and the Pitt Climate Action Plan. Her research around environmental justice, indoor air quality, and using engineering solutions to improve the quality of life in the local community embodies the triple bottom line and she is a true leader in this field.

Kelsey Wolfe, Department of Administrative and Policy Studies, Office of PittServes

In her role as the Pitt Pantry’s graduate student intern, Kelsey has gone above and beyond to ensure that they Pantry continues to support students despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. She also planned and coordinated Pitt’s first year participating in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and the Pantry’s first time participating in Pitt Make a Difference Day.


Tony Kerzmann, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

As one of this year’s Leonard Peters Faculty Fellows, Tony has co-taught the 2 core Sustainability Certificate courses, “Current Issues” and “Sustainability Capstone.” He leads research projects on renewable energy sources and sustainability.


Kim Barlow, Office of University CommunicationsAt Pitt since 2005 and the University Communications Manager with sustainability as her “beat” since 2017, Kim is the pen, WORD, and puns behind Pitt’s telling of its sustainability story externally. Whether writing a Pittwire release about an award or pitching a sustainability story to a journalist, Kim has always been knowledgeable about sustainability across Pitt’s campus and passionate about the work and the people who do it. Often behind the scenes and article, Kim is an integral part of the Pitt Sustainability team and has a special flair for showcasing student efforts.

Caitlin Courtney, Pitt Eats

Caitlin is a very reliable person for encouraging sustainable practices and bolstering the sustainability procurement program at our residential dining location. Besides, she is always looking into ways to reduce food waste in our Kitchen

Joshua Jones, Department of Chemistry

As Manager and Dietrich School Scientific Stockroom (DSS) Customer Service Director, Joshua Jones has been using his expertise in chemistry to create sustainable solutions for a number of years. In addition to contributing to DSS sustainability efforts, Mr. Jones has been greening his own work flow in a variety of ways, including 1) coordinating with janitorial staff to repurpose empty bleach bottles to safely collect aqueous chemical waste like Strontium sulfate to reduce plastic jugs bought by the department) and 2) safely recrystallizing copper solutions for students to use in their learning lab for educational experiments.

Will Mitchell, Office of Facilities Management

Will Mitchell is the Director of Facility Services in Pitt Facilities Management — and has been an instrumental leader in Pitt’s sustainability journey. Along with serving on the Chancellor’s Advisory Council for Sustainability, Will has been imperative in Pitt’s materials diversion efforts for decades, including the University’s transition to single stream recycling over 5 years ago. More recently, Will oversees Pitt’s custodial, sustainable landscaping, and trades teams – and is a fundamental partner for many Pitt Sustainability projects, including anything relating to zero waste, but especially recycling, and composting. If it’s a green, chances are Will is on the scene. In 2019, Will was one of the New Pittsburgh Courier’s 50 Men of Excellence.

Kristin Olexa, Purchasing Services

As Pitt Procurement Specialist, Kristin has been a constant champion for sustainability at Pitt by leveraging her position supporting laboratory programs across campus by piloting materials diversion programs for water filters and gloves. She has also asked scientific suppliers to embrace more innovative and sustainable practices, create takeback programs, and more. Kristin advocates for more sustainable policies within University-wide contracts that help build a thriving culture of sustainability on campus. In a recent example, Kristin has been collaborating with the University Store to create a lab coat rental program so lab coats used by students for lab courses have a life after the class.

William Parker, Pitt Eats

William ensures that compost and recycling procedures are correctly followed in kitchens. He keeps our team motived towards our sustainability programs at the Eatery.

Monica Rattigan, University Store

Monica led a program during COVID to establish a partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Food bank to raise awareness around the challenges facing the food bank during COVID and to organize support. The Stores teams attended engagement sessions with the Food Bank and implemented donation mechanisims on the Stores registers and website to collect donations for the food bank, as well as collect physical goods like non-perishable donations. More than $1,000 has been raised through the effort so far.

Meagan Sotirokos, Maggie & Stellas

As a Stores Green Team member Meagan is always working to make Maggie & Stella’s more sustainable. Meagan has also provided invaluable support to the University of Thriftsburgh as they work to set up an online sales platform.

Ciara Stehley, Office of PittServes

Ciara is an outstanding leader and advocate! She provides leadership for the Pitt Pantry & provides assistance with other food-related initiatives. She is leading the Basic Needs and Meal Scholarship Committees working to assure student access. Ciara does awesome with working across departments to ensure work is done strategically.

Dez Stuart, Office of PittServes

Dez has been a campus leader in equity and access, coordinating the University’s first year of participation in the Real College Assessment. Because of his persistence and creativity over the past year and a half, the Campus Basic Needs Committee will have data from over 5000 students, which will shape the future of student support programs and partnerships at Pitt.

Timothy Howland, Pitt Eats

Chef Timothy has committed to make Sutherland hall as vegan friendly as possible. Adding make to order vegan pizza and increasing the plant-based dishes in every single station.

Winners were selected by a cross-departmental review team based on nominations by members of the Pitt community. The 25 awardees will be acknowledged during the April 23 Spring Student Sustainability Symposium, an award made of reclaimed wood, and a sustainability care package, all in recognition of their achievements.

Read Pittwire accolade