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SUNY appoints first chief sustainability officer

By Eric Reinhardt (


Carter Strickland is SUNY’s first-ever chief sustainability officer and executive director of climate action. (PHOTO CREDIT: SUNY)

ALBANY, N.Y. — SUNY Chancellor John King, Jr. has appointed Carter Strickland as SUNY’s first-ever chief sustainability officer and executive director of climate action. 

In that role, Strickland is charged with leading SUNY’s agenda to reach New York’s sustainability goals; “lead the nation” in energy and environmental research; and create economic opportunity by preparing New Yorkers for skilled careers in the “clean-energy revolution,” per SUNY’s April 21 announcement. His appointment takes effect at the end of May.

SUNY describes Strickland as a “national subject matter expert” in a range of environmental issues including natural climate solutions, climate-risk assessment and responses, and green-business development. 

He joins SUNY with more than 30 years of experience implementing environmental solutions across government, nonprofit, and private sectors. His work history includes leading the Trust for Public Land’s New York and Mid-Atlantic offices and earlier serving as commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

SUNY campuses account for 40 percent of all state-owned assets, with more than 1,800 academic buildings covering nearly 60 million square feet. Working with campuses and faculty, Strickland will be responsible for the overall management of major elements of the system-wide climate-action program. 

Those elements include project development and implementation to decarbonize SUNY’s college and universities, advance circular-materials management, adapt and build resilience in the campus communities, and prepare students for success in the green economy. 

“...With SUNY’s significant footprint across our state, it is our responsibility to lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring sustainable campuses for the students, faculty, and staff we serve,” King said. “At the same time, our students and faculty want to be a part of the solutions to society’s largest environmental issues — from cutting-edge research to education and workforce preparation. Carter Strickland’s experience makes him uniquely suited to work alongside our campuses and our state, local, and federal government partners to accelerate SUNY’s leadership in this vital area.”

About Strickland

Strickland currently serves as VP, Mid-Atlantic region and New York State director at the Trust for Public Land. He leads a team that protects open space and builds parks and playgrounds around New York. 

Under his leadership, the team has built or facilitated over 50 parks in New York City (NYC), Buffalo, and across the state; passed conservation funding measures at the local and state level; launched the 175-mile trail Long Island Greenway and other greenways; and protected landscapes along the Appalachian Trail, Delaware River, and Hudson Valley, SUNY said.

Strickland has worked on environmental issues in several capacities: as a prosecuting attorney for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, water and air-pollution expert for New York City’s first sustainability plan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and regional water and sustainability lead for the national architecture and environmental engineering firm HDR.

His initiatives and campaigns have included the $2.4 billion NYC Green Infrastructure program (the largest such program in the U.S.), the NYC Clean Heat initiative, the NYC Wastewater Resiliency Plan, the NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, a resilient-energy program in the Hunts Points neighborhood of the Bronx, a study to reduce greenhouse gases from the New York City building sector, and cleaning up toxic pollution of the Hudson River. 

He teaches graduate courses on sustainability and infrastructure development at Columbia University and earlier taught at New York University and Rutgers University. 

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