The President’s Executive Cabinet comprises campus leaders who strategically guide the operations of the College, linking goals with ESF’s institutional priorities and assessment, and aligning these efforts to the strategic plan, mission, and vision.
Kelly Berger, Chief Campus Counsel
Kelly Berger joined ESF in 2020, providing legal services to the campus as part of the SUNY Office of General Counsel.
Berger’s legal career began in the Onondaga County Law Department, where she worked for over a decade on various transactional projects, counseling officials, and liaising with governing boards. In private practice, her legal work included advocating for children in custody and neglect cases within Family Court. Berger taught Business Law at Onondaga Community College and Land Use Law at SUNY ESF. She began her career by serving two terms of AmeriCorps service with Catholic Charities in Syracuse, working with diverse populations on the city’s northside.
Berger earned a Juris Doctor from the College of Law, magna cum laude, concurrent with a master’s in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University, with a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Disability Studies. She recently earned a master’s in Business Administration from SUNY Polytechnic, with a concentration in Technology Management/Human Resources. She received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.
Berger is an active community member, volunteering with the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways and other nonprofit organizations.
Danushi Fernando, Chief Diversity Officer
Danushi Fernando joined ESF in April of 2023 to promote and advance the College’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) goals and objectives. She also serves as ESF’s Affirmative Action Officer and Deputy Title IX Coordinator.
Fernando’s standout experience includes more than a decade in DEIA management in higher education settings, including Director of the LGBTQ+ Center and the Women’s Center at Vassar College; Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion Clarkson University; and founder and chair of the Campus Life Diversity Initiative at Farleigh Dickinson University. She is also a licensed clinical mental health counselor and has experience with Title IX investigations and discrimination law.
Outside of work, Fernando is an active volunteer with HarborLAB, an environmental non-profit that is dedicated to increasing access to the New York City waterfront for underserved populations through kayaking, canoeing, and educational activities. For the past 10 years, she has been the volunteer and intern manager.
She holds three Master of Arts degrees (in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling; Creative Writing and Literature for Educators; and Corporate and Organizational Communication, with concentrations in Conflict Resolution and Crisis Communication) and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Farleigh Dickinson University.
Danielle Gerhart, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
Danielle Gerhart joined ESF in 2021 to lead the College’s communications and marketing efforts. She provides strategic development, leadership, and administrative oversight for the college's brand management, marketing, and communications efforts.
Gerhart brings more than 20 years of communications and marketing experience to the College. Previously, she led corporate communications in the private sector for five years and spent more than a decade at one of Upstate New York’s largest independent marketing agencies.
Gerhart holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Appalachian State University.
Brenda Greenfield, Assistant Vice President for Development and
Executive Director, ESF Foundation
Brenda Greenfield joined ESF in 1999. She serves as a member of the President’s Executive Cabinet and as the College’s chief advancement officer, overseeing all private philanthropic giving in support of ESF from individuals, alumni, corporations and private foundations. She also serves as the chief administrative officer of ESF College Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and the Foundation’s subsidiary organizations, Abby Lane, LLC, and Abby Lane Housing Corporation.
During her tenure at ESF, Greenfield has led an unprecedented period of growth in fundraising and asset development for the Foundation. Under her leadership, Foundation assets have grown from $8 million to over $75 million. Greenfield implemented ESF’s first multi-year comprehensive fundraising campaign with a goal of $20 million. The campaign finished 18 months ahead of schedule with gifts totaling $21.5 million. She also oversaw the real estate acquisition, design, construction and financing of ESF’s first student residence facility, Centennial Hall, and the building’s subsequent addition. She supervises the external management company that provides daily operation of Centennial Hall
Greenfield has been recognized in the Syracuse community as a Non-Profit Executive of the Year and has received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. Her development career spans nearly 30 years. Prior to joining ESF, she held positions in alumni relations, development, and nonprofit administration in both higher education and environmental nonprofits.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown College.
Susan Head, Chief Financial Officer
Susan Head joined ESF in 2022 as the College’s Chief Financial Officer. She responsible for providing leadership, management, and oversight of the College’s business and financial affairs.
Head has a plethora of experience in higher education and financial administration, particularly within the SUNY system, prior to joining ESF she served as Senior Associate Vice President of Finance at SUNY Polytechnic Institute. She is a Certified Public Accountant and has served in a number of roles at accounting firms in the private sector and the healthcare industry.
Head holds a master’s in Accountancy, bachelor’s in Public Accounting, and an associate degree in Business Administration-Accounting.
Mark Lichtenstein, Executive Operating Officer
Mark Lichtenstein joined ESF in 2015 and has nearly 40 years of experience with sustainability and environmental stewardship. He previously served eight terms as president and CEO of the National Recycling Coalition.
As ESF’s Executive Operating Officer, Lichtenstein has helped champion several new sustainability initiatives and programs at the College. In addition to his roles at ESF, Lichtenstein is a faculty associate in the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration at Syracuse’s Maxwell School. He has been engaged with sustainability efforts throughout the United States, and in Belize, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Mexico. He served as an expert witness to the Federal Environmental Finance Advisory Board.
Before ESF, Lichtenstein was executive director of the Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community Solutions and Environmental Finance Center. He co-founded and facilitated the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Recycling Partnerships and was an active member and co-facilitator of the Vieques Sustainability Task Force (a strategy of the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico).
Lichtenstein has a Master of Arts in Public Administration, and a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Studies in Conflict Resolution, both from the Maxwell School, and a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from ESF. He has certified mediator training, is an experienced interest-based negotiator and process facilitator, and is a certified public participation specialist.
Katherine McCarthy, Executive Officer for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Katherine McCarthy was appointed to Executive Officer for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs in 2023 after serving for three years as the College’s Associate Provost of Enrollment Management. In her current role, McCarthy provides direction and oversight to many of the out-of-classroom programs, resources, and services at the College including academic success programs, athletics, community service, counseling services, student conduct, student activities, and student support programs.
McCarthy also leads the development and oversight of programs, policies, and initiatives focused to continue growth in enrollment; expanded geographic, cultural, and economic diversity; sustained selectivity; and support the College’s highly successful retention efforts. Her work includes leading the College’s admissions and financial aid teams and working collaboratively across the College to sustain ESF’s national prominence and recognition among the premier environmentally focused institutions in the country.
Before ESF, McCarthy served as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Interim Associate Vice President for Transfer Partnerships and Recruitment at Radford University in Virginia, where she was recognized for her role in shaping strategic recruitment initiatives and communications. McCarthy developed and oversaw enhancements to outreach and processes that consistently brought more students of promise and purpose to campus.
McCarthy earned a master’s in Business Administration from Syracuse University, a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Alfred University, and an associate’s degree from Monroe Community College.
Matthew Millea, Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
Matthew Millea, a 20-year veteran of state and local government, joined ESF in 2021 to lead and manage major strategic initiatives and programs across the College’s campuses.
Millea joins ESF following a three-year stint in the private sector working as the Albany Office Principal for the Syracuse-headquartered C&S Companies. Prior to that, he served as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy director of state operations after serving for four years as deputy county executive for physical services to then-County Executive and current ESF President Joanie Mahoney.
While serving as deputy county executive, Millea managed the implementation of Onondaga County’s nationally recognized and award winning Save the Rain combined sewer overflow mitigation program as well as a number of other priority capital projects within the county.
Millea played a key role in the master planning and environmental review effort that preceded the construction of one of Onondaga County’s most recently constructed landmarks, the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater on Onondaga Lake. In 2009, in his role as acting president of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, he managed the implementation and disbursement of $500 million in water infrastructure investments awarded to New York state from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). He is a veteran of four gubernatorial administrations beginning his career in state government working for Governor George Pataki on a number of environmental initiatives.
Millea holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University and bachelor’s in political science from Siena College.
Ragan Squier, Executive Director for Administration
Ragan Squier, who has been with ESF for nearly four decades, was appointed to Executive Director for Administration in 2021. She is responsible for providing oversight of presidential initiatives through the management of Executive Cabinet and the supervision of multiple support staff.
In her current role, Squier manages the operations of the President’s Office and works closely with Human Resources on personnel actions. In addition, she oversees the Office of Special Events and major campus events hosted by the President’s office. Squier also manages operations of the ESF Board of Trustees and was elected as Secretary to the Board in 2022.
During her tenure at the College, Squier has served in a number of critical administrative roles in the President’s office serving under five presidents. Prior to the that, she served 16 years in an academic department working under the direction of 3 department chairs.
Squier holds an associate’s degree from Bryant & Stratton College.
John Stella, Vice President of Research
Dr. John Stella was appointed Vice President of Research in 2021 to lead the College’s research program that tallies $16 million in expenditures annually. Previously, he served as chair of ESF’s Academic Governance Committee on Research from 2019-2021, where he expanded the scope and advisory role of the committee with the VPR’s office.
As VPR, Stella has focused on building the capacity of the Office of Research Programs, hiring new staff in the areas of proposal and award management, communications, and research development. Currently, he is facilitating the growth of collaborative faculty initiatives in ESF core research areas, including climate change and bioenergy, water resources, and conservation and restoration science. He is also strengthening research partnerships with Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University, with whom ESF is creating new research centers and facility sharing agreements. In partnership with the ESF Provost, Stella is working to strengthen ESF’s graduate program, particularly doctoral student education and research.
Stella joined ESF’s faculty in 2006 as a professor in the Department of Sustainable Resources Management. His primary research lies in global change in river ecosystems, riparian forest ecology, river management and restoration, with more than 50 peer-reviewed publications. He has secured more than $7.5 million in collaborative research funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, USDA Forest Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the French National Research Agency, among other sponsors. He serves on the boards of The Nature Conservancy - Central and Western New York Chapter and Onondaga Earth Corps, a Syracuse youth development and environmental program.
Prior to his academic career, Stella worked for nearly a decade in environmental consulting, developing restoration plans for rivers in California. He received a Ph.D. and master’s from the University of California, Berkeley, in environmental science, policy and management, and a bachelor’s in architecture from Yale University.