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SUNY Chancellor King Names ESF President Mahoney, Student Isabel Valentín to New Sustainability Advisory Council

Building on SUNY’s Successful Energy Efficiency Record, the Council Will Implement Innovative Clean Energy Programs Throughout SUNY Campuses

SYRACUSE, NY – Sept. 22, 2023 - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry President Joanie Mahoney and undergraduate student Isabel Valentín, ’24, have been appointed to the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council by SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. The Council will accelerate SUNY’s leadership on sustainability and climate action and focus on ways to reduce SUNY’s environmental footprint, promote green workforce development programs, spur research and innovation on advanced climate issues, and encourage other applied learning methods.

Mahoney will co-chair the Council with SUNY Oneonta President Alberto J.F. Cardelle. Valentín., an environmental studies major, will serve as the first student representative. Additional advisory council and workgroup members will include campus presidents, campus sustainability and energy leaders, faculty, students, and other stakeholders. Carter Strickland, SUNY’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Director of Climate Action, will support the advisory council’s organization.

“Given the ongoing challenges posed by climate change, SUNY recognizes the urgency of taking proactive steps to address environmental concerns. This includes developing a proficient workforce capable of conceiving practical solutions while promoting sustainable practices throughout the system,” said Chancellor King. “To achieve these goals, the Sustainability Advisory Council will be instrumental in supporting sustainability initiatives across all SUNY campuses, ensuring campus leaders, faculty, staff, and students have a voice and contribute their insights."

“SUNY’s Sustainability Advisory Council, working with the Chancellor’s new sustainability office, will help to drive meaningful and impactful climate action strategies at every one of SUNY’s 64 campuses,” said Mahoney. “So much important work is already happening at so many of our sister campuses, but there is more to do, and we must move swiftly.”

The Sustainability Advisory Council will:

  • Help advance the Chancellor’s vision for how sustainability is a critical part of SUNY’s mission — from reducing SUNY’s environmental footprint at state-operated campuses under EO22 to increasing green workforce development programs at community colleges to identifying applied research opportunities on issues that will be useful to carbon reduction and leveraging SUNY’s students’ passion for environmental justice to enhance experiential learning
  • Support the work of the sustainability leads on each campus to ensure alignment at all levels with participation and input from presidents, faculty, staff, and students
  • Develop consistent goals and metrics, assessment needs and tools, external partnerships, internal policies (to be developed by staff and adopted by the board as appropriate), and other elements that could be components of a SUNY-wide Climate Action Plan

“I am honored for the opportunity to bring a student's perspective to the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council,” said Valentín. “It feels surreal to be stepping into a role that merges learning with real-world impact, from dreaming up eco-friendly initiatives to seeing them come to life across SUNY's massive network. I am here to learn, contribute, and most importantly, foster lasting change.”

Under Governor Kathy Hochul, New York state is taking an aggressive stance to combat climate change and ensure a more sustainable future for New Yorkers. The Governor’s vision builds on New York's investments in clean energy, including more than $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and more than $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. In 2019, the New York State Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which requires renewable energy for New York’s energy sector by 2040 with 100 percent net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In addition to the state’s investments, President Joe Biden’s federal Inflation Reduction Act provides monies and opportunities to reduce costs so that New York can meet the requirements of the Climate Act. The IRA will reduce costs to New York to help meet the requirements of the Climate Act by approximately $70 billion through 2050 and is expected to provide unprecedented funding to reduce consumer energy costs, slash carbon emissions and pollution, ensure energy security and resilience, increase energy innovation and domestic manufacturing, and advance environmental justice.

About The SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council

To meet those demands, the SUNY Sustainability Advisory Council will harness the diverse clean-energy programs throughout SUNY campuses and support students throughout their education with applied learning experiences linked to real-world career opportunities (e.g., internships and post-program job placement opportunities with municipalities, union partners, and local businesses). SUNY has an existing number of academic and hands-on training programs that lead to high-paying jobs in the state’s growing clean-energy sector. The Sustainability Advisory Council will create educational and career pathways for workers statewide in clean-energy fields.

The advisory council will work in conjunction with SUNY’s Offshore Wind Training Institute —a collaboration between Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University—that is projected to train 2,500 workers and provide training and retraining opportunities for all key planks of the clean-energy sector. SUNY System Administration will coordinate ongoing clean-energy market research and technologies through the Rockefeller Institute for Government and NY Small Business Development Center to strengthen and prepare for emerging academic and workforce training demands.


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.

About The State University of New York

The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit