To celebrate GreenHawks Media’s 10th anniversary in 2020, the site will feature profiles of staff alumni that contributed to the publication’s content and mission during their time at Miami University. Our second September spotlight is Adam Harris, one of the founders of GreenHawks Media.
By: Celine Thormann
This past week, I had the unique honor of talking with Adam Harris, one of the original founders of GreenHawks Media. Adam finished his time at Miami University in 2010 as an economics and environmental studies double major and has spent the decade since he graduated experiencing a wide variety of careers and experiences. Adam now lives in Colorado with his family, which includes his dog, who sadly did not make an appearance during our Zoom call. He works at Deloitte advising natural resource and life science companies about their tech risks and security. How did Adam end up in security? It’s a long story full of pivots and interesting anecdotes that made him a delight to talk to.
Adam was introduced to environmental studies by a high school teacher right when the subject was starting to become more mainstream; from there, Harris started his journey into the world of sustainability.
During his freshman year at Miami, Adam built a solar generator in his dorm room in Tappan Hall, an endeavor that he admits would be much cheaper today. During his sophomore year, the ambitious student was involved in Miami’s Environmental Task Force because he saw what other schools were doing in terms of sustainability and wanted the same for Miami. He went straight to President Hodge, one of Miami’s past heads, who saw that a more sustainable Miami came with reduced operational costs This ultimately encouraged President Hodge to sign the First Sustainability Commitments and Goals (SCAG), drafted by the Sustainability Committee in 2011.
During his time at Miami, Adam also served as the Student Body Vice President, which gave him the opportunity to draft much of the governance on sustainability for Miami Associated Student Government. In this role, Adam noticed that there were several awesome environmental initiatives taking place on campus that weren’t being reported by campus outlets like The Miami Student. Adam also knew that the student publications were printing their stories and saw a way to innovate by moving journalism online.
When I thanked Adam for laying the groundwork for an organization that is still thriving a decade later, he told me about the initial issues around setting up the GreenHawks website. Adam noted that he was only given 45 minutes to prepare for a meeting where he had to convince Miami to fund and recognize GreenHawks Media as an official organization. Luckily, the concept was so strong that people believed in it, and GreenHawks Media became Miami’s first environmental publication. And here we still stand, ten years later!
After graduation, Adam worked as a data analyst for the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, worked for Tauman Company, lived in Seattle, worked with Microsoft’s KPMG technology team, lived in Taiwan, and got his master’s degree. Now in Colorado, his interest in sustainability manifests itself in new, different ways. His career focus is on security, which is crucial for all companies to progress and remain safe. In other pursuits, Adam is getting an energy efficiency home retrofit and intends to put solar panels on his garage.
When I asked Adam about changes he’s seen over the past ten years, he said that he has noticed sustainability issues becoming more mainstream. There are more green jobs available and a wider general acceptance for environmental initiatives. Always true to his economics roots, Adam talked about how the costs of being sustainable have fallen and how Wall Street has its own part to play as the world becomes more sustainable.
For Adam, the most pressing current environmental issue is transportation. While great progress has been made in other areas of sustainability, little progress has been made in making transportation more sustainable. Before the global pandemic brought transportation to a halt, there were no clear ideas of how to get less cars on the road and mitigate the impacts of air travel. Luckily for Adam, Deloitte now buys carbon offsets for traveling employees, making it easier to enjoy the frequent travel that comes with his job. With less cars on the road, Adam noticed the improved air quality until this year’s wildfires started. The wildfires in Colorado are not nearly as large as the ones ravaging California, but they did still cause ash to fall from the sky and decrease air quality.
When I asked Adam about advice for current students, his recommendations reflected his own varied and rich career history. Put simply, he says to get involved and try lots of different things. He wants all students to travel, have fun, enjoy themselves and network, network, network. He is proud of many things he accomplished at Miami, but what really stuck with him were the relationships that he was able to build that are still with him to this day. He urges us students to take advantage of what we are offered and learn everything we can.
What struck me after this interview is how many paths there are in life and how with a flexible approach and a willingness to work, everything will turn out as it should. Trying different things helps you figure out what you like and what you don’t like, so there is no reason not to try. At the bottom of the paper where I took notes during the meeting, I had simply written “Happy,” which sums up both how Adam feels in his life and how I feel about the future. (Also- happy birthday, Adam!)
Finally, if you are ever hungry and Uptown in Oxford, he recommends that you try the veggie fried rice at Wild Bistro.
Cover photo courtesy of Adam Harris