Skip to main contentSkip to footer content
Man in beige dress shirt sitting in front of computer.

ESF Appoints Rustan Petrela to Executive Director of Sustainable Facilities Operations

Syracuse, N.Y. – Feb. 27, 2024 – The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) – one of the nation’s premier colleges focused exclusively on the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable future – named Rustan Petrela as Executive Director of Sustainable Facilities Operations. He is responsible for planning, organizing, coordinating, and supervising staff and operations across six units, ensuring that ESF facilities are safely maintained and align with the College's pedagogical and sustainability standards, in addition to its facilities, energy, and sustainability/carbon-reduction master plans.

“Rustan’s extensive experience and innovative approach to environmental stewardship make him the ideal leader for this new role at ESF. His appointment marks a significant step forward in our commitment to environmental excellence and operational sustainability,” said Mark Lichtenstein, ESF’s Executive Operating Officer.

Petrela brings almost four decades of experience working in leadership roles in central and local government, engineering, academia, and corporate settings. Most recently, he served as Director of Capital Improvement Planning for Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection Act. Prior to that, he was Deputy Commissioner in the county’s Department of Facilities Management and Senior Management Analyst in its Department of Finance.

“I have a profound respect for the core mission, values, culture, and accomplishments of ESF and I consider myself greatly honored to be given the privilege to serve here,” said Petrela. “I am excited to join a team of dedicated, enthusiastic, and excellent professionals and I pledge full commitment of my energy, knowledge, and abilities to accomplish my duties.”

A native of Albania, Petrela has previously served as Chief of Staff and Director of the Public Administration Department in the Prime Minister’s office, among other roles.

Petrela earned a master’s in Public Administration from Syracuse University, a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Tirana, and numerous certificates in economics, administration, and leadership from SUNY Fredonia, Georgetown University, Superior School of Public Administration in Rome, Italy, and Harvard University.


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.