The 2019 Women in Sustainability Leadership Awards (WSLA) event was gb&d’s largest to date, with all of the winners in attendance to celebrate one another’s great achievements and take home their much-deserved awards on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
The event at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta included speeches from Rochelle Routman, chief sustainability officer of HMTX Industries; and Mali Hunter, award-winning producer, artist, chef, and partner of Tree Sound Studios; as well as each of the night’s winners, while gb&d associate publisher and cofounder of the award Laura Heidenreich hosted. Hunter started the night saying, “I believe we’re judged by how we treat each other.” When asked what inspired her, she looked around the room and said, “Women who win together.” “If you light another woman’s candle, that doesn’t take any flame away from you,” she said. She’s also a big believer in living thoughtfully and with as much respect to the environment as she can, as she recounted some of her own experiences, having installed 40 solar panels in her studio, for example.
Routman also updated those in attendance on the incredible work being done by the WSLA Alumnae Group. The alumnae group’s most recent service project, sponsored by Mecho Shade Systems, paired WSLA mentors up with Girls on the Run to help the nonprofit with its post-5K projects. Girls on the Run empowers young girls through healthy, confident planning and experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running. WSLA winners are automatically inducted into the WSLA Alumnae Group, which now numbers more than 70.
This year’s winners traveled from all over the globe—and as far away as Hong Kong—to accept their awards. “I really believe we’re each here to make sustainability easier for the next generation,” said Sara O’Mara, director of LEED and environmental services at Choate Construction Company and a 2019 WSLA recipient, on Tuesday night.
Without a doubt the theme of the night, though, was partnership, as each woman recognized those around her and those who helped her get to where she is today. “Success in the realm of sustainability doesn’t happen from one person alone,” said WSLA Winner Eden Brukman, senior green building coordinator for the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
The 2019 WSLA winners are Rebecca Boenigk, CEO of Neutral Posture; Eden Brukman, senior green building coordinator for the San Francisco Department of the Environment; Lisa Dyson, cofounder and CEO of Kiverdi; Genell W Ebbini, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota College of Design; Maureen Eisbrenner, CEO and founder of arbnco; Arathi Gowda, associate director and sustainability team leader at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Susan Klosterhaus, vice president of science and certification at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute; Janice Lao, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels; Sara O’Mara, director of LEED and environmental services at Choate Construction Company; and Jeannie Renne-Malone, vice president of global sustainability at VF Corporation.
The sixth annual WSLA was presented by HMTX Industries alongside gb&d and USGBC. Winners were selected by a judging panel that included Routman, Kimberly Lewis of USGBC, and Chris Howe and Heidenreich of gb&d. The dinner and awards ceremony coincided with this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.