Corporate sustainability fellowships to create meaningful change in Colorado and beyond
This summer, every student in the CSU College of Business Impact MBA’s corporate sustainability track will be taking part in a large-scale, paid fellowship program matching each of them with an organization – primarily in Colorado – to identify, analyze, and address sustainability issues within the public and private sectors.
Thirty students will be completing the 400-hour paid summer fellowships spanning projects from product development to increasing supply chain sustainability, offsetting emissions, conducting risk analysis, reducing waste, and more.
The launch of the fellowship program highlights the growing demand for professionals who can implement sustainable solutions to complex challenges, helping organizations secure competitive advantages in reputation, efficiency and resiliency, while producing long-term financial returns.
“Our partner organizations are leaders in their fields, recognizing the strategic importance of sustainability for their continued success, and they serve an essential role in supporting our students as they work to drive environmental, economic and social progress,” said Kat Ernst, Impact MBA Director.
“Providing students with the invaluable experience of working on real-world challenges is a key step in empowering them to chart the next steps in their careers and continue their journeys to impact change,” Ernst said.
Meredith is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and earned a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan. A CDC internship and another with a supportive housing non-profit organization in Detroit heightened Meredith’s passion for creating a more socially and environmentally just world. After college, Meredith served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, working for the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department.
Most recently, Meredith has managed Garfield County Outdoors, which is part of the statewide Generation Wild initiative to break down barriers to outdoor access and connect more youth to nature. Meredith loves all things outside, volunteering, questioning the world and trying to find ways to make it better.
Montanya Distillers Fellowship Q&A
About Montanya Distillers: Montanya Distillers is an American Craft Rum Distillery located deep in the Rocky Mountains in the town of Crested Butte. The company aims to maintain and increase its commitment to social and environmental sustainability as it navigates continued growth.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about your fellowship?
I am excited to be a part of a business that wholeheartedly believes in, and actively contributes to, creating a better world for all humans and the environment. My position with Montanya Distillers will be entirely new to me, industry and function-wise. However, all of my work has focused on trying to make things better on an individual and systems level and I look forward to continuing this mission. At Montanya Distillers, I’ll be working to create and implement a system that will track compliance with environmental policies, measure environmental impacts and document employee participation. I am eager to learn firsthand how corporate social and environmental responsibility can be the foundational heartbeat for all businesses in the future. Also, I am pretty excited to work at a distillery in a beautiful corner of Colorado. Good spirits all around!
Q: Why did you decide to pursue the Impact MBA?
I was running into limitations after my undergraduate degree and primarily working with non-profit organizations. I realized that the best next step in serving others and creating lasting positive change required an advanced degree. Researching programs, I realized that the Impact MBA would be an ideal blend of familiarity and challenge – combining my social and environmental background with new tools and knowledge to truly create sustainable change through business. Corporate sustainability professionals are able to view challenges in nuanced ways as well as seek out win-win opportunities that can advance a business socially and environmentally all while making a profit. Figuring out how to use profit (and be profitable) to protect people and the planet aligns well with my life’s purpose: to ensure that everyone has opportunities to live their best life, know that they matter and are valued and to use my privilege to speak up for those who have been systemically prevented from speaking up for themselves.
Q: What type of work do you want to do after graduating?
I hope to be known as “The Professional Lorax.” I would like to be in a position that speaks for the trees (and the people) who are not represented but who will be impacted by a company’s decisions. I aspire to shape the trajectory of a company that prioritizes environmental efficiency, social sustainability and community impact in its daily operations. I hope to leverage the influence and ability of a large company to create positive change throughout all levels of the organization, supply chain and community commitment.
Dylan graduated from Warren Wilson College with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Forestry and a Minor in Fine Art. He held many different jobs after graduating including arborist, climbing guide and bicycle mechanic. After several years of seasonal jobs, Dylan found employment with the Colorado Outward Bound School in Leadville, Colorado. There he led multi-week backcountry expeditions focusing on communication, character development and leadership. He went on to work as a program administrator, training staff and overseeing expeditions. Dylan’s goal is to combine the interpersonal skills learned during his time in outdoor education with new knowledge from the Impact MBA to create socially and environmentally conscious enterprises.
Leprino Foods Fellowship Q&A
About Leprino Foods: Leprino Foods is headquartered in Denver and is in the world’s #1 producer of mozzarella cheese. The company has more than 4,000 employees worldwide and maintains a strong commitment to responsible supply chain practices, environmental stewardship and has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Q: What will you be doing with Leprino Foods?
My fellowship project will focus on true cost accounting for water and energy use throughout their manufacturing process and comparing those costs with the value they add. I love thinking about the way human processes interact with natural systems, and then from there thinking about ways we can minimize impact on the natural world.
Q: What drew you to the Impact MBA program?
For someone who’s trying to make a career shift, the curriculum is accessible. At the start of each course they will instruct you as if you’ve never had a business courses, which is great for me because I’ve never had a business course. That being said, the professors hold you to a very high standard and expect good quality work. The program is set up in a way, especially with fellowships offering hands-on experience, that makes a career shift manageable. The wide range of experience and the type of person this program attracts has also been really impactful and I’ve learned a lot from my other students in my cohort.
Sarah graduated with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Baylor University. During her studies, she took courses such as Sustainable Engineering and Ethics for International Service that fueled her passions for environmental and social issues. As a student she gained internship experience with Toyota.
After graduating Sarah went to work for a global manufacturing company in Boulder, Colorado where she learned product marketing and project management skills. She also had the opportunity to work in operations in Suzhou, China where she gained continued experience. In her free time Sarah loves to hike, cook, and read.
Lightning eMotors Fellowship Q&A
About Lightning eMotors: Businesses have a major role to play in the push toward developing a carbon-neutral transportation infrastructure. Lightning eMotors is helping organizations adapt by modifying existing gas and diesel commercial vehicles to run on electric power, lowering the barrier to entry for operating a zero-emission vehicle fleet. The company’s production is expected to reach 20,000 medium duty commercial electric vehicles by 2025.
Q: What do you hope to gain from your experience working with Lightning eMotors?
I’m excited to gain more experience in the automotive industry and narrow in on alternative vehicles. Lightning eMotors is expected to grow extremely fast, and I’m excited to jump into that environment and hit the ground running. I’ve always been super interested in alternative vehicles, and I’m grateful for this opportunity.
Q: What drew you to the Impact MBA Corporate Sustainability track to begin with?
After working in the corporate world, I’ve seen that major companies have huge potential to combat climate change. As more companies realize the diverse benefits of sustainability, corporate sustainability professionals will be more in demand. I am passionate about people, the planet and making profits, and this program provides me with the skills to affect the corporate world for the better. I’ve also been impressed by the faculty and staff that make this program possible. It’s been a fantastic experience to be a part of this cohort and learn from everyone.
2021 Impact MBA Corporate Sustainability Student Fellows
Kyle graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a BA in Finance. After graduation he spent three years serving in Peace Corps Ethiopia focusing on public health and sanitation related programs emphasizing sustainable business practices and long-term project efficacy. After the Peace Corps, Kyle returned to Colorado and spent several years working for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. As a Housing Counselor and Intake Coordinator with CCH Kyle functioned as the main liaison for the largest property management companies ensuring that clients were housed or moved as efficiently as possible, mitigating the costs associated with helping chronically homeless clients with severe drug addiction/mental health problems. Kyle hopes to gain skills in the Impact MBA Program that allow him to promote positive changes in the profit-driven corporate world.
Meta graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a BS in Environmental Engineering, concentrating in municipal processes. While studying at UNH, she was able to travel to Budapest, Hungary for a study abroad program. After graduating, Meta moved to Colorado and has spent the last eight years working in the environmental consulting business, aiding industrial clients in remediation projects and construction management. She has a passion for the environment and preserving our planet for generations to come. Her interests lie in helping companies set and achieve ambitious sustainability metrics. Outside of work, Meta spends her time mountain biking, ski touring, or playing with her dog. Meta will pursue the Corporate Sustainability track.
Lauren graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with a BS in Accounting. During her time at the university, as well as after graduation, she worked in various accounting positions for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment. Along with her accounting and business classes, she also took several sustainability electives which started her passion. She wants to incorporate sustainable practices into the business models she has learned, and the Impact MBA (Corporate Sustainability track) seems like the perfect place to do that! She hopes to take the knowledge she learns in the program to help make significant sustainable changes within business enterprises.
Bhargava is an engineer with a Masters in Renewable Energy Engineering from TERI University, New Delhi, India, and a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Hindustan University, Chennai, India. Since graduation, he has worked in the green buildings and building energy efficiency field with a focus to address sustainability in the built environment. He has had the experience of working on many LEED and IGBC Platinum rated projects. He was also part of the technical team that is developing the “Energy Conservation Building Code” for Residential Buildings in India. While working, Bhargava realized that having business knowledge along with sustainability expertise can be a very powerful combination to create an even more positive impact in this world. He feels that the Impact MBA program with a focus on Corporate Sustainability will provide him the required tools and skillset to become more impactful and socially-conscious. Bhargava is passionate about sustainability and is looking forward to contributing towards achieving UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 as much as he can.
Jacob grew up in Seattle, Washington. He moved to Fort Collins after he was recruited to run track and cross country for Colorado State University. Jacob graduated from CSU’s College of Business with his Bachelor’s in Organization and Innovation Management and a Minor in Global Environmental Sustainability. He found his passion for sustainability while studying at CSU, which is renowned as one of the world’s most sustainable universities. Jacob has since been inspired to research how sustainable strategies can save money and mutually benefit both the natural and built environment. Jacob is pursuing the Corporate Sustainability track. Jacob also still has NCAA eligibility and will continue to compete for CSU as a graduate student-athlete. With his MBA, he hopes to work with C-Suite executives to align financial goals with corporate responsibility.
Lindsay’s introduction to business came as an entrepreneur with a horse riding and training program and beginning a career as a professional equestrian after high school. She appreciated seeing the business aspect of her work and realized that good business practices could be used to create a positive impact. With a goal of “doing good”, she earned a B.S. in Marketing from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Combining her passion for business, health and sustainability, she volunteered and worked for the university’s student-run organic farm and helped improve its presence and services within the community. Since graduating, she has continued to enjoy her experience working with animals, children and both growing and cooking food. Now, she is incredibly excited to expand her understanding of sustainable business practice, especially within the food/agriculture industry, and ready to contribute to the inevitable movement of sustainability.
Alex earned a Bachelor’s in International Business and Spanish from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Upon graduation, he moved to western Colorado to work in the outdoor gear industry in sales and marketing. This experience showed him the importance of a company’s philanthropic initiatives and community outreach programs. After his time in the Rockies, Alex made his way back to the mountains of Asheville, NC to join Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. His role in experiential marketing has given him the opportunity to utilize his passions to promote outdoor engagement and environmental stewardship through public education and industry collaboration. Alex is ready to use the knowledge gained from the Impact MBA to advance the relevance of sustainability to positively influence the current economic and environmental state of the world. In his free time, he is either outside climbing, skiing, and trail running, drinking a cup of coffee, or traveling in search of delicious food.
Vidha graduated from the University of Houston, majoring in Marketing and HR management, with minors in Sales and India Studies. While attending UH, Vidha was a member of the Sales for Social Impact team, where she assisted in creating marketing methodologies for a local non-profit. Post graduation, Vidha worked in talent acquisition and account management for global construction company, Hilti. Through these experiences, she recognized the
importance and positive impact of companies implementing corporate social responsibility and contributing to the welfare of society. Most recently, her passion for sustainable living and helping others improve the quality of their lives led her to join the Seattle-based zero-waste store, Scoop Marketplace. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, dancing, traveling, and Netflix! Vidha is thrilled to be pursuing the Corporate Sustainability track and learning from like-minded peers through the Impact MBA program!
Michael completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Spanish and International Studies. While in school, he started working on an organic vegetable farm in the Madison area. After graduating, Michael worked on a series of farms in Turkey and Eastern Europe, learning about regenerative growing practices, sustainable building, and homesteading skills. After returning to the United States, Michael managed a small vegetable farm in southeast Wisconsin. For the past year and a half, he has worked in a sales role for a major power tool company. He looks forward to gaining knowledge of sustainable practices and working towards their implementation.
Reed is from Austin, TX where he earned a Bachelor’s degree from St. Edward’s University in Business Management. After school Reed moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked for members of Congress primarily dealing with the needs of constituents, staffing meetings, and researching special interest topics pertaining to the members’ regions and to their respective committee assignments. During this time, Reed also worked on a few political campaigns around the country training volunteers and coordinating voter outreach. After Washington, Reed moved back to Austin where he worked for a home building company, and most recently has been working for a natural gas operator. During his free time Reed enjoys exploring the natural world through diving, biking, and skiing.
Chrystina graduated from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia with a Doctorate of Pharmacy. She has worked within her community in Northern Virginia and Denver as a pharmacist and traveled all over the US as a pharmacy system implementation trainer. Through her travels around the globe, she has seen first hand how economic necessity has driven sustainable solutions and has become fascinated with how she could apply those learnings back home. She is an avid hiker, spin enthusiast, and crime podcast fanatic. She is thrilled to learn from her cohort and to cultivate the business acumen to further her career in healthcare sustainability.
Born and raised in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, Luke departed Alaska to spend an enlistment in The Marine Corps before moving to Fort Collins where he received a B.S. in Business Administration – Marketing and a B.A. in Languages, Literatures, & Cultures – French at Colorado State University. He chose the Corporate Sustainability track of the Impact MBA program so that he can plan companies’ business operations and strategy while ameliorating their social and ecological impact. Ideally for him, this work would take place abroad in a Spanish- or French-speaking country.
Courtney graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Since graduating in 2013, Courtney developed her skills as a project director at a publishing company and a relationship manager at a financial education organization. She soon realized that her passion was sustainability focused and began working at Sierra Club – the United State’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. For the past five years at Sierra Club, Courtney has worked with the organization’s chapters in each state to develop successful fundraising strategies. This development included creating partnerships with sustainably-minded, for-profit companies, both nationally and locally. This work was her introduction to using business for good. Courtney is excited to improve her business acumen and focus on corporate sustainability within the Impact MBA program so she can bring her skills to a corporate setting and create sustainability mindsets and models for everyone.
Katelynn earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Forest Management from Colorado State University. During her time at CSU, she had the opportunity to spend a summer working for the National Park Service researching insect and disease issues in high elevation pine trees throughout the Rocky Mountains. This position ignited her passion for forest health! Most recently Katelynn has worked as a Forest Health Technician with the Colorado State Forest Service. In this capacity she assists private landowners in the identification, detection, and management of forest and urban tree insects and diseases across the state of Colorado. She hopes to use the ecological knowledge she’s gained through these experiences and apply it to the private sector, particularly focusing on sustainable supply chains for forest and agriculture products. Katelynn envisions a world where people contribute to the productive function of the ecosystems they live in, rather than hinder them.
Ross is from central NJ. He received a B.S. in Environmental Resources Engineering from SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse NY. To expand upon technical knowledge in the valorization of waste materials, he pursued a graduate degree at Iowa State University through the mechanical engineering department. Within the program, called Biorenewable Resources and Technology, Ross focused on applying thermochemical conversion technologies as a means to that end. After graduating with an M.S. from ISU, Ross moved to Seattle to gain experience in the organics waste management industry, working with Engineered Compost Systems. ECS designs and builds commercial-scale aerated static pile compost facilities. Since he was a child, volunteerism through gardens, farms, food banks, and food recovery programs has been a central theme. Ross’s career goal is to help expedite the transportation sector’s transition from fossil fuels.
Elliott is from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Environmental Engineering from The University of Alabama. During his time in school, he interned for Wyoming’s Department of Transportation, Mercedes-Benz USA in Vance, Alabama, and for Kiewit Infrastructure in Colorado Springs. Throughout his life, he volunteered with the USGS in various capacities from assisting in water quality and streamflow measurements, to pesticide sampling in wells throughout Wyoming. His upbringing in the outdoors instilled an appreciation for all nature has to offer, leading to his interest in Environmental Engineering, Sustainability, and the Impact MBA program. He looks to help incorporate his learnings of sustainable practices into the industries he holds closest to heart, namely mountain biking, skiing, and running.
Christina is originally from Norway but moved to California after high school. Here she earned a degree in Physics with a minor in Math. After some time in California, she decided to move to Wyoming, and the University of Wyoming, to pursue a Bachelor’s in Environment & Natural Resources. During her environmental studies, Christina was introduced to sustainability and became involved in campus food systems. She was actively involved in looking at
ways of better handling food waste and addressing food insecurity among students. Christina has also worked as an intern to develop a management plan for reducing municipal greenhouse gas emissions in the town of Laramie, WY. Christina is continuing her interest in sustainability by entering the Impact MBA’s corporate sustainability track. In her free time, she likes climbing, cooking, and amateur gardening.
Heidi earned her BA in Biology-Teaching and Spanish from the University of Northern Iowa. After graduating, she taught high school science at the American International School of Kuwait for four years. During her time in Kuwait, she learned a lot about the culture, region, and people, and ate a lot of good food. She also observed the direct impact a rapidly changing environment could have on the health of her students and their surrounding environment. These observations lead her to want to take part in greater change and to pursue a degree in public health. While pursuing her Master of Public Health at the Colorado School of Public. Heidi focused on Community Health Education and took every opportunity to engage in environmental health opportunities, one of which was Everyday Colorado. Leaders developed this initiative to gain the perspective of communities across Colorado with regard to their community’s greatest environmental health assets and concerns which was used in some Community Health Improvement Plans. Since completing her MPH she has been working with Colorado SPH. She hopes to combine her passions of teaching, public health and environmental sustainability to affect system wide change in the Corporate Sustainability track of the Impact MBA.
Dominic graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Environmental Science. Since finishing his undergrad he has been working as an analyst and portfolio manager at Front Street Capital Management in Missoula, Montana. Dominic’s interest in sustainability comes from an interest in lean management practices and an upbringing as an avid outdoor recreationalist.
Coralie Pierre is Haitian and has two undergraduate degrees, one in Management Science and another in Law from the National Superior School of Technology and the State University of Haiti respectively. She worked at the National Brewery of Haiti and the Canadian Embassy in Haiti in the Public Affairs Department. Currently, she is a Program Officer at the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), an international non-governmental organization where she is leading the Growth sub-unit responsible for securing funding opportunities. In this position, Coralie has helped PADF win millions of dollars’ worth of funding. She is interested in becoming a Corporate Sustainability expert and advocating for this concept in Haiti, as it becomes essential for any country to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Coralie plans to help organizations ensure their sustainability while being aware of the social, environmental and economic impact of their activities in their environment.
Susan earned her undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College in Sociology/Anthropology and Asian Studies with concentrations in Management Studies and China Studies. She has extensive experience in sourcing, supply chain management, and product development. Most recently she was assistant manager in charge of hiring & training at Athleta, the second B Corp she’s worked for. The first was Peace Coffee, Minnesota’s original fair-trade coffee company. Susan has worked on organic vegetable farms throughout Minnesota, in addition to digging bamboo in China and harvesting coffee in Costa Rica. She lives in Boulder with her husband and rescue pets, a German Shepherd mix and black cat. Susan is pursing the Corporate Sustainability track and is excited to merge her language skills and experience with an improved understanding of sustainable business to build supply chains that provide safer, better-paying work and have a beneficial impact on the environment.
Dustin graduated with a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies from Colorado State University. It was through this program that he discovered his passion for the planet and the interconnectedness of human rights and the environment. For the past two and a half years, Dustin has been coordinating service professionals at a local, family owned, plumbing and heating company. He has also been volunteering at the Timberline Recycling Center and the yearly ACT Human Rights Film Festival. Dustin is ultimately working toward accelerating the rate at which sustainable practices are implemented into society and is eager to build a better future with the help of his cohort!
Allie is a food and agribusiness professional with a Bachelor’s in International Relations from American University and a post-graduate certificate in Corporate Sustainability from NYU. Through fieldwork and internships during college, Allie developed a keen interest in integrating purpose and profit within agricultural supply chains. She began her career in Ghana with a business association working to strengthen the African cashew sector within the global market. For the last five years, she has managed a portfolio of coffee value chain development programs building the climate resilience and incomes of 400,000 smallholder farmers and 800 small businesses across Africa and Latin America. She is excited to become a part of the Impact MBA program and leverage her field and strategy work to support large corporations to meaningfully embed sustainability into their core business functions. Aside from work, Allie spends her time hiking, reading, leading tree planting events, and advocating for social justice.
After graduating from CSU with a B.S. in Psychology, Grant spent six harrowing months as a driving instructor before joining United Way of Larimer County as an AmeriCorps Member. At the end of his AmeriCorps service, he was hired at United Way. When a position on the fundraising side of the organization became available, Grant made the jump. There, he served as both a Resource Development Manager and the Director of Corporate Engagement, helping to raise money for those in need in Larimer County through corporate relationships. After leaving United Way and a brief stint in the corporate world, Grant decided to pursue the Impact MBA and he is thankful for the opportunity to join this amazing program. He plans on applying the knowledge and connections in the sustainable agriculture sector. In his free time, he can be found baking, cooking, playing hockey, and exploring outside with his fiancé.
Jack graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a Bachelor’s in Economics. Upon graduation he moved to Austin, Texas and began working in financial software. Additionally, Jack worked part-time for a start-up, GoFishCam, to help market a product in the fishing and wildlife industry. Looking to make a difference and have some fun, Jack then moved to Breckenridge, Colorado. There he worked with a local non-profit, The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, teaching skiing and other outdoor opportunities to individuals with disabilities and special needs. Jack is looking forward to getting some formal training in the world of sustainability to apply and expand his business skills.
Originally from Oklahoma, Kevin served in the United States Army Infantry for over three years, including a fifteen-month deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. Seeking to further his education, Kevin fulfilled his service with the Army and returned to attend the University of Oklahoma where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Energy Management and a Minor in Finance. Immediately upon graduation, Kevin began a career in the energy industry in Texas, where he worked for XTO Energy Inc. until 2020. During his undergrad, Kevin kindled a passion for renewable energy, and plans to utilize the Carbon Management Certification and Corporate Sustainability track to transition into Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Sustainability. He is excited to be back in Colorado among the mountains and can’t wait to explore the beautiful outdoors.
Jacob graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering. His primary interests within engineering are renewable energy systems, environmental preservation, and green construction. Outside of work and school Jacob enjoys cycling, kayaking, fishing, and anything that involves being outside. Jacob looks forward to using the knowledge gained from the CSU Impact MBA with his engineering degree to help positively impact the built and natural worlds we live in.
Corporate Sustainability Fellowship Partner Organizations
• Ball Corporation
• City of Fort Collins
• Colorado State University
• Denver International Airport
• Eileen Fisher
• Food Bank of the Rockies
• Green Belly Foods
• JBS & Pilgrim’s
• PepsiCo via EDF Climate Corps
• Leprino Foods Company
• Lightning eMotors
• Marble Distilling Co.
• Montanya Distillers
• Motherlode Co-Packing
• Mountain West Consulting LLC
• Bee Squared Apiaries
• Nutrien Ag Solutions
• New Energy Risk
• Sierra Nevada Brewing
• Solaris Energy
• Spruce Confections
• Sustainable Living Association
• Tailwind Nutrition, Inc.
• Unwrapp’d LLC
• United Health