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Names in the News

Apollo, Lendlease, McDonald’s bring on new CSOs

Plus, former EPA chief Lisa Jackson will chair the board of a new climate action nonprofit.


Top row: Lisa Jackson, Monica Atkins, Marion Gee, Jennifer Jenkins. Middle: Jessica Synkoski. Bottom row: Dave Stangis, Sara Neff, Ben Thomas, Ozawa Bineshi Albert.


As fall blows in, another quarter slips away with sustainability hires across sectors as well as private, public and nonprofit organizations. Real estate and buildings companies made a big push with key sustainability hires, and board seats at companies and policy climate groups are filling up with sustainability stars and experts.

Big moves for big names

Last quarter, President Joe Biden made important nominations including Tracy Stone-Manning, who was confirmed as director of the Bureau of Land Management. Laura Daniel Davis is principal deputy assistant secretary for land and mineral management at the U.S. Department of the Interior. And Ramya Swaminathan, CEO of Malta, a company creating Pumped Heat Energy Storage systems from Google’s X moonshot factory, was appointed to the Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC), to help advise Department Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the U.S.’s electricity infrastructure.

Mining has been making strategic sustainability moves including Cleveland-Cliffs, one of the largest flat-rolled steel producers in North America, hiring Marissa Beechuk as director of corporate sustainability. 

On the GreenFin side, Apollo, the asset manager with almost $500 billion under its umbrella, named Dave Stangis chief sustainability officer. Stangis comes to Apollo after leading sustainability at soup giant Campbell’s and Intel. Gap hired PJ Newcomb head of environmental sustainability for the Gap Inc including its brands Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta.

Among the sustainability hires by building and real estate companies, property giant Lendlease hired Sara Neff as head of sustainability for the Americas; she had spent almost 11 years at Kilroy Realty. Commercial real estate and management firm CP Group (formerly Crocker Partners) appointed its first ESG (environmental, social and governance) director, Elena Villarreal, who will bring 19 years of real estate experience. Kennedy Wilson, the holding company, brought on Alex Spilger to be head of ESG. On the hospitality side, Highgate established a new role, vice president of sustainability, to be filled by Marianne Balfe. 

In the food world, Jenny McColloch caps nine years at McDonald’s by being promoted to CSO from corporate VP of sustainability. The alcohol beverage conglomerate AB InBev elevated Ezgi Barcenas to CSO after eight years at the company. Finally, Sodexo, a large catering company responsible for food services at many universities, governments and private sector cafeterias, named Jessica Synkoski VP of sustainability and corporate social responsibility for North America. She was director of governance and reporting for global sustainability responsible at AstraZeneca. 

Finally, Target created a new leadership role, naming Chad Krueger senior director of ESG and corporate responsibility.

The chair (of the board)

More organizations are looking for external business input on sustainability for their boards of directors, seeking strategic advice from experienced veterans. Lisa Jackson, Apple's VP of environment, policy and social initiatives, and former head of the EPA under President Barack Obama, will chair the board of Laurene Powell Jobs' new climate action nonprofit, The Waverley Street Foundation. 

Over at the Environmental Defense Fund, Ben Thomas joined the board of directors of regenerative agriculture nonprofit Leading Harvest. Katherine Lorenz, president and board chair of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and previously deputy director of the Institute for Philanthropy, was elected vice chair of the EDF’s board of directors. 

The Climate Collaborative’s board of directors selected Courtney Pineau as its next executive director. She has extensive background in the food and agriculture sector from Green America’s Center for Sustainable Solutions. Next Gen Foods, an alternative protein startup, announced the appointment of Impossible Foods and Tesla veteran Rachel Knorad as its first board member. 

Ocergy, a company looking into sustainable use of the oceans for energy and farming, appointed Kirsi Tikka as a member of its board of directors. Tikka will bring her decade of shipping industry technology knowledge from her time as a senior executive at American Bureau of Shipping. In renewables, Kevin Gresham became chair of American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). 

Hiring for sustainability

Circulor, a supply chain CO2 tracking company, hired AI and cybersecurity veteran Bob Parker as its chief financial officer. Roush CleanTech, a leader in the electric vehicle battery space, expanded to include Natalia Swalnick, formerly of the Electrification Coalition, as director of government affairs. 

Encina Development Group, working on producing circular chemicals from plastic waste, recruited Sheida Sahandy as CSO. Her resume includes time as a member of the executive cabinet for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Jennifer Boynton left Cisco corporate affairs to become senior manager of corporate responsibility at Stryker. Evan Phalon started a new position as VP for social impact and sustainability at Edelman. And NCX (Formly SilviaTerra), the carbon marketplace, hired Jennifer Jenkins as its CSO, after five years at Enviva. 

Thinking outside of the business box

The Climate Justice Alliance welcomed three women of color as co-executive directors: Ozawa Bineshi Albert; Monica Atkins; and Marion Gee.

Over at the World Economic Forum, HY William Chan, Greenbiz 30 Under 30 honoree from 2019, became both the Public Leadership Fellow and curator of the Global Shapers community. Former Kellogg VP Amy Senter joined the North American division of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. NRDC appointed as president and CEO  Manish Bapna, who recently served as interim president and CEO of the World Resources Institute. Chris Menges began a new role as director of climate action for The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. 

Know someone making the jump to a new company? Are you a company making an exciting new hire? Email [email protected] for a chance to be included in our next Names in the News. 

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