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Environmental Leadership Program

The Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) is a new initiative launched by the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The ELP, targeted at undergraduates, will include pre-professional workshops, field trips, and networking opportunities. The introduction of an Environmental Leadership Program is one of several key educational objectives in the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) 2020.

iSEE piloted two ELP workshops in Spring 2021, focused on environmental policy and corporate sustainability. These workshops allowed students to develop their sustainability leadership and communication skills, to learn about career paths in sustainability, and to establish valuable networking connections. Successful professionals in the environmental policy and corporate sustainability fields will lead workshop sessions.

For the 2021-22 academic year, iSEE will ramp up the ELP with regular meetings and visits with local and state government leaders. The Alvin H. Baum Family Fund has made a generous gift to help support the program, including assistance for student travel expenses. Read more about the Baum Fund’s continuing support of iSEE >>>

Wednesday, March 24, 2021: Environmental Policy Workshop

In this online workshop, participants learned how to better communicate and advocate for the environmental issues of most importance to them. The workshop featured plenary talks by

  • Eban Goodstein, Professor and Director of the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College (view video above or on YouTube >>>); and
  • Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council (view video below or on YouTube >>>).

Students worked in teams to develop and deliver compelling talks about environmental issues of interest to a panel of judges. The first-place presentation was by Nicole Palella and Tori Lawlor on environmental justice, and the runner-up presentation was by Omar Kazi, Michael Dzianott, and Jacob Yoo on waste management.

iSEE is pleased to announce that the workshop filled to its capacity within three days of open registration!

Click this link for details about the speakers and a full agenda >>>

Tuesday, April 13, 2021: Corporate Sustainability Workshop

This online workshop gave students the opportunity to enhance their understanding of corporate sustainability, establish networking opportunities with representatives from various companies, and apply for internships or full-time employment!

The workshop opened with a keynote address by Harriet Hentges, President and CEO of Hentges Associates and an expert in sustainability in the food industry (view video above or on YouTube >>>).

Next, a panel discussion on the different views of sustainability in the private sector included:

  • Holly Emerson, ‎Global Senior Director of the Global Sustainability team, Johnson Controls
  • Pedro Leon de la Barra, Project Manager, Sol Customer Solutions
  • Stu Levenick, Retired Group President, Caterpillar Inc., and iSEE donor
  • Chris O’Brien, Director of Business Development, CustomerFirst Renewables

View a video of the panel discussion below or on YouTube >>>

After a brief networking event, students particpated in a mini “green career fair,” in which representatives from the Career Center assisted participants with last-minute improvements to their resumes and elevator pitchesr.

Participants then engaged with human resources staff from various companies and apply for internships or full-time employment opportunities in sustainability. The professional participants: Brunswick i-Jet Lab; Dayempur Herbals and Dayempur Farm; Para La Tierra; Resource Environmental Solutions; Sol Systems; Sun Tribe; The Nature Conservancy; Waterborne Environmental; WWOOF-USA; and the Illinois Professional Science Master’s Program.

iSEE is pleased to announce that the workshop filled to its capacity within three days of its launch!

Click this link for an agenda and information on our keynote, panelists, and corporate participants >>>


ELP External Advisory Board

iSEE is grateful to the following people for their participation and valued advice in creating the Environmental Leadership Program:

  • Harriet Hentges, President of Hentges Associates, an advisory firm on sustainability and corporate responsibility
  • Eban Goodstein, Professor and Director of the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College
  • Tami Craig Schilling, Agronomy Knowledge Transfer Lead at Bayer Crop Science

Contact us!

For any inquiries about the workshops or the program — or to be waitlisted for one of our events — please email Paul Gharzouzi at