The college has hired a new director of sustainability Laura Cacho, who will work to encourage environmentally sustainable behavior throughout the campus.
In her role as director of sustainability, Cacho will also help organize courses focused on sustainability, invite outside speakers to raise awareness about environmental issues and help the various departments of the college become more sustainable. Additionally, she will work to reduce the carbon footprint of the college, encourage efforts to protect the Crum Woods and expand the Green Advisors program.
Olivia Ortiz ’16, the new environmental impact chair of Student Council, (StuCo) expressed her excitement at having an official director of sustainability to serve as a liaison between student groups and the administration. She hopes that Acho will expand the environmental studies program and to work on other projects to foster sustainability, such as updating the electricity metering system and standardizing compost.
“The role of sustainability director entails providing leadership to the many distinct sustainability efforts on campus and fostering a culture of sustainability among students, faculty and staff,” Cacho said. “Key to this will be conceptualizing and leading campus-wide sustainability programs while collaborating and communicating effectively with the academic and scholarly research work of the faculty, campus operations and student sustainability activities.”
Cacho graduated from the University of Virginia where she majored in environmental science with a minor in landscape architecture. She also received a master’s degree of city planning from the University of California-Berkeley. For the past five years, she has served as a consultant and has worked across the US and Australia to help create more sustainable communities.
While Cacho has many goals for her time as director of sustainability, she will begin by becoming familiar with those at the college who have strong opinions on environmental issues.
“My very first action is simple: gather data and get to know the campus community,” Cacho said. “[I plan to] speak to as many people as I can to better understand the past and present activities, current processes and future desires of students, staff and faculty. Before action can be taken, it is important for me to understand Swarthmore’s culture and needs.”
Cacho will also re-evaluate the college’s progress, as outlined in the administration’s Climate Action Plan, to becoming carbon neutral by 2035. In addition, she will serve as a liaison and resource to student groups on campus.
Patrick Ammerman ’14, one of two students who was on the director of sustainability search committee, expressed his goals for a director of sustainability and his faith in Cacho’s ability to effectively make the campus more sustainable.
“I was looking for someone who could really champion the cause,” Ammerman said. “I think there’s an uphill battle to be fought with making our campus as sustainable as it needs to be and I was looking for someone who would be in it for the long haul who would be able to grind through some of the red tape and the hard work of causing true culture shift in the campus in order to make us a greener school. I think that Laura was a great hire and we were really lucky to get her.”