Emerson welcomes Jennifer Lamy as new campus sustainability manager


Emerson College’s new campus sustainability manager, Jennifer Lamy. (Courtesy Jennifer Lamy)

By Maeve Lawler, Kasteel Well Bureau Chief

Emerson has hired a new campus sustainability manager to direct the college’s climate policy, filling a vacancy that has lasted nearly two years. 

Jennifer Lamy assumed the role on Jan. 24. The position, which includes co-chairing the Sustainability Committee and working towards carbon neutrality, was last held by Cathy Liebowitz who left the role after less than a year in March 2020. 

“There was a hiring freeze on all positions [after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic],” said Duncan Pollock, assistant vice president for facilities & campus services, to The Beacon last April. “With the flex learning and remote ‘no people gathering,’ it really didn’t make sense to fill that position—but [by fall 2021] we’ll be back in a better boat.”

Though her hiring was delayed until the spring, Lamy brings substantial experience in environmental policy to the role. After receiving her master’s in environmental management from Duke University, Lamy worked for a Department of Agriculture program focusing on sustainable farming abroad before moving on to a non-profit working to advance sources of alternative protein.

As to why she chose to come to Emerson, Lamy said the position offered an opportunity to work closely with a college community—something she hadn’t done before in her previous jobs. 

“I’m excited to use this opportunity to empower students to do as much of the sustainability work and communication as possible, and really get some mentorship and help students find ways to integrate [sustainability] into what they are passionate about,” she said.

Lamy said she and her team have a wide range of proposals in mind to meet the college’s pledge of being “carbon neutral” by 2030.

“We’ll be working on everything from energy in buildings to what we’re using for cutlery when we’re doing catering. So we’ll be able to work on a lot of issues at once toward one common goal for the college,” Lamy said. 

Emerson first laid out its Climate Commitment in 2007, signing an updated version in 2016.

“[2030 is] coming up really fast,” she said. “It probably felt like a long time ago in 2007 but it’s a few years away, so I’m really pushing to try to get down our final sources of emissions we need to get to carbon neutral.”

One of her main priorities is to “empower students as much as possible to do [sustainability] work,” which she also views as one of her biggest challenges given the continuous shift in the student body. 

“By nature of being a college, you get turnover much more than in other settings,” she said. “Students come in, they graduate, they’re gone. They’re here sometimes and then they leave for breaks.”

To combat this challenge, Lamy said establishing continuity among the student’s role in the sustainability effort is important. 

“By having me to provide some of that continuity from one group to the next, that central coordination of faculty and staff who are passionate about [sustainability] will help alleviate some of those challenges,” she said.

Emerson students have expressed their enthusiasm for Emerson’s sustainability manager, and the prospects of a greener campus. 

“There are a lot of sustainability issues here at Emerson, especially in the dining hall,” said Emerson Nadelman, a first-year visual and media arts major. “It’s good that [Emerson] has someone that maybe can get some work done.”

Nadelman noted that the dining center has many compost bins, but few labeled trash bins—meaning non-compostable waste often ends up in the compost.

Karenna Umscheid, a first-year journalism major, said she hopes that Lamy will look at both smaller and larger issues regarding sustainability, specifically pointing to Indigenous climate activism. 

“I would hope she would also look at… the sustainability efforts and the environmental activism of indigenous people, especially indigenous youth,” she said. “I feel like that doesn’t get enough attention the way it should. If we were actually to stop climate change, that’s where it would be.”

Lamy said she recognizes that sustainability at Emerson should continue beyond the borders of the campus. 

“Working with the Emerson community is about getting students excited, getting them to go into their careers with sustainability in the back of their mind, with these best practices, as global citizens,” Lamy said.

Bailey Allen contributed reporting.