AAA has new automation leaders; Nelson Switzer leaves Nestle

Names in the News

AAA has new automation leaders; Nelson Switzer leaves Nestle

Names in the News June
Clockwise from top left: Jason Hartke; Melissa Vernon; Leah Treat; Steve Cohen; Nelson Switzer;  Xantha Bruso

Summer’s almost here, but these professionals aren’t taking any breaks. The EPA is facing the heat, while sustainability hotshots are making notable career moves. Buckle up: This month’s Names in the News roundup of big hires and promotions is a long one.

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Who's news

Miranda Ballentine, Constant Power

The new CEO of Constant Power was formerly assistant secretary of the Air Force under President Barack Obama. She most recently served as managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center. Toronto-based Constant Power specializes in energy storage as a service, or ESaaS for short.

Jason Hartke, The Alliance to Save Energy

The Alliance to Save Energy's new president comes to the nonprofit after years in government, including having recently overseen key programs at the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Green Building Council. The energy efficiency veteran joins the collaborative effort of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders to advocate for the benefits of energy efficiency at a time where the Trump administration is threatening to slash funding for such programs.

Leah Treat, Nelson\Nygaard

Leah Treat departs her post as director of the Bureau of Transportation for the city of Portland to work as managing director for the San Francisco-based transportation consultancy Nelson\Nygaard. Nelson\Nygaard previously had contracted with the city of Portland. She leaves a legacy of pushing bicycle-friendly and gas-tax policies in Portland. 

Nelson Switzer, Loop Industries

After two years as vice president and CSO of Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA), Nelson Switzer is leaving for Loop Industries. He’ll become chief growth officer and lead the commercialization of Loop’s disruptive sustainability technology as well as build the Loop brand in the marketplace. In the past 15 years, Switzer has worked across the U.S., Canada and Europe in multiple strategic sustainability consulting, managing and even teaching roles.

Xantha Bruso, AAA

Xantha Bruso recently accepted a new role as manager of autonomous vehicle policy for AAA. She had been a principal in PG&E's Long-Term Energy Policy group, within the energy procurement department of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, where she analyzed and conducted advocacy on climate change and energy policy. In her new role in a similar advocacy spirit, she will advance the regulation and consumer acceptance of ACES (autonomous, connected, electric and shared) vehicles. 

Melissa Vernon, Natural Capital Partners

Melissa Vernon joined Natural Capital Partners as director of client engagement. After more than 12 years in corporate sustainability at carpet manufacturer Interface, Vernon will work to align the climate goals of clients in North America with the best available solutions around the world. Vernon is a graduate of the University of Michigan's Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, with an MBA from the Ross School of Business and a master's degree in science from the School of Natural Resources and Environment. Vernon served as a career counselor for MBA students and undergraduates interested in careers in sustainability at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Steve Cohen, Earth Institute at Columbia University

Steve Cohen has stepped down as executive director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and now serves as a senior advisor for the Institute. A management and policy expert, he directs the research program on sustainability policy and management at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and is a professor in the practice of public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Cohen is a consultant, former policy analyst, author of several books and former member of the Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology for the U.S. EPA. 

Letha Tawney, Oregon Public Utility Commission

The Oregon Public Utility Commission is gaining a new face: Letha Tawney, a national leader in encouraging corporate purchases of renewable energy, is Gov. Kate Brown’s pick. Tawney comes from the World Resources Institute, where she was director of Utility Innovation and the Polsky Chair for Renewable Energy.

On the move

— At Mastercard, Kristina Kloberdanz and Parag Mehta have been promoted. Kloberdanz has been appointed as Mastercard’s first chief sustainability officer. Mehta will become the new executive director of strategic engagement at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

— The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Foundation has made a few switch-ups on its board:

—  Robert K. Steel, partner and CEO at Perella Weinberg Partners, tapped to serve as its next chair of the board of directors.

Michael R. Bloomberg, serving as chair for the past four years, nominated to be chair emeritus of the SASB Foundation Board.

AFFLINK, a global leader in supply chain management, is promoting Amy MacDonald to vice president of its packaging department.

 Ian de Cruz has a new role as global director for Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030 (P4G). P4G is a global initiative with the ambition of becoming a leading forum for developing concrete public-private partnerships at scale to deliver market-based approaches to the global goals.

— Development leader Devon Kearney joins the Earth Law Center after years raising foundation, government and individual donor revenue for civil and human rights organizations.

Stephen Lineaweaver (ex-McKinsey, GreenOrder, Energy Foundation and more) also joined AAA earlier this year to head up innovation.

Integral Group is grabbing Brenden McEneaney, former head of USGBC's Pacific Region.

Revlon has appointed Pamela Gill Alabaster to lead Revlon’s Global Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility function, coming from VP of Global Corporate Responsibility at Estée Lauder Companies.

Benjamin Strauss, founding board member of both and the Environmental Leadership Program, was appointed as president and CEO of science communication nonprofit Climate Central, moving up from COO and director of the Program on Sea Level Rise.