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Holy Cross Names Cathy Liebowitz as First-Ever Director of Sustainability

New position is part of the College's commitment to safeguarding the environment
April 21st, 2020 by 

Cathy Liebowitz

Cathy Liebowitz began her work in April as the College’s first Director of Sustainability. Liebowitz joins Holy Cross from Emerson College, where she was the Campus Sustainability Manager.

Congratulations on becoming the first-ever Director of Sustainability at Holy Cross. What made you want to take this job?
Throughout the hiring process, I felt welcomed and inspired. I appreciate that the Holy Cross community works together to reach common goals and supports one another’s own ambitions. During my on campus interview, I could tell that individuals truly care about fostering a positive and curious environment. When I was offered the position, I could picture myself within the Holy Cross community and could envision my past experience integrating into the college’s sustainability goals.

Can you tell us a little about your past experience, and how you hope that background will help you in the new role?
Raised in rural New Hampshire, I grew up surrounded by New England mountains, rivers, and farms. This environment sparked my professional interest in sustainable community development, so I attended Dartmouth College to pursue my BA in Environmental Studies. However, the mentors in my life showed me the importance of role models and support systems. I recognized that sustainable community development requires education and active-listening, so I pursued my MA in Higher Education Administration, where I also served as a Resident Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life. My combined knowledge in environmental studies and education allowed me to manage the million dollar green fund at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and progress Emerson College’s carbon neutrality goal. I’m thrilled to take this foundational knowledge and experience to Holy Cross. I hope my varied background will give me the tools and skills to partner with different college stakeholders so we can integrate environmental efforts within the college’s values and practices.

What’s your top priority for sustainability at Holy Cross?
Since 2007, Holy Cross has decreased its carbon footprint by over 46%. That’s an incredible accomplishment and a testament to the community’s dedication to environmentally-conscious practices. My top priority is supporting the College’s 2007 Carbon Commitment to become carbon neutral by 2040. More concretely, I’m striving to expand student engagement opportunities and outreach channels, so our community knows about the Carbon Commitment and feels confident getting involved.

Where have you been impressed by the efforts already underway here at Holy Cross? Where do you think we have room to grow?
As I meet new people and learn about different initiatives, I’m energized by the many pockets around campus that have woven sustainable efforts into their work. The student body voted to start the Green Fund in Fall 2020. The Facilities department has installed energy recovery systems and upgraded windows to high-efficiency. Environmental Studies faculty will teach the program’s first capstone course next year. Dining Services purchases over 25% of its food from local sources. Holy Cross should take pride in these efforts, and share them. If Holy Cross improved its story about sustainable efforts happening on campus, I believe more individuals on and off campus would feel energized to participate in the college’s environmental stewardship.

We’re all having to adjust to being away from campus, how has our current situation affected your plans?
When I join a new community, I like to listen and observe how a community currently functions. I seek answers to questions like: What do individuals and groups get excited about discussing? Where are there points of pride? Why are certain processes and programs in place? Starting my position at home has put a pause on visiting campus sites, like the freezer composting program at Figge Hall. However, working remotely has also brought forward Holy Cross’ resilience, sense of community and openness to new ideas.

Is there anything else the Holy Cross community should know?
According to the Brundtland Report, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Using this definition as a launching point, I view sustainability work as interdisciplinary and as a community-wide effort. Whether someone is a first year student, a researcher, or an alum, I’m always happy to collaborate on a challenge, project or vision so we can advance campus sustainability.

Anyone interested in getting involved or learning more about Holy Cross’ sustainability efforts can contact Cathy Liebowitz at cliebowi@holycross.edu.

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