Leading for Sustainability

By: Celine Thormann

This past Sunday, Nov. 10th, the Harry T. Wilks Leadership Institute hosted Ryan Mooney-Bullock, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Green Umbrella, to talk about Leading for Sustainability. Mooney-Bullock received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Science Teaching at Antioch University New England. Mooney-Bullock has worked as a research analyst, program manager and science teacher, but since June 2018, she has been the executive director of Green Umbrella Regional Sustainability Alliance

Green Umbrella is a membership-based nonprofit active in 10 Ohio counties. Mooney-Bullock and her team bring together representatives of the 200+ organizations involved in Green Umbrella to solve environmental and sustainability problems. This is a time consuming process, and an important aspect of the work is explaining the long term goals in such a way that the member organizations are inspired and willing to dedicate themselves to reaching their goals. A current long-term goal of Green Umbrella is to cut carbon emissions in the Cincinnati area by 50% by 2030. Other ongoing projects through this organization are the construction of a huge solar array in Cincinnati, the expansion of the Tri-State Trails and the formation of a Food Policy Council.


Mooney-Bullock emphasized that investments into sustainability have the potential for  huge financial returns, which can cause positive environmental impacts and spur ripple effects. 

Because this talk was sponsored by our campus Leadership Institute, Mooney-Bullock also talked about the different kinds of leaders that there are in the field. She explained  how each person can make use of their own individual strengths to work with others and solve the pressing environmental concerns that we are faced with today. There are many challenges, but with the increased attention that people are paying to the environment, there is the possibility to turn the attention into action and continuously find new and better ways to help the environment. 

When the audience was asked about concerns they had, some mentioned that there remains a lot of waste, particularly food waste, and disappointing results coming from the trash audits that the campus EcoReps do here at Miami University. Every person at Miami has a role to play when it comes to sustainability, and it is clear that there is still a lot of work to do.

On the other hand, there are promising things happening at Miami: we just received our first gold rating on STARS, and the sorority dorms got a gold rating in sustainability from LEED. Both of these measures indicate campus buildings compliant with sustainable practices. Further, our carbon footprint is down by about 45 percent since 2009, and in February, students will work with President Greg Crawford to set a course of action to make Miami more green. 

Mooney-Bullock ended the presentation by having audience members share their hopes and dreams in sustainability. Responses emphasized education, eliminating waste and reducing personal consumption. Every person can form good habits that reduce individual carbon footprints, but by working together, long-term goals can be met and we can make the world a healthier, greener place. 

Photos courtesy of Holly Flaig

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