Aurora Winslade Joins Swarthmore as New Sustainability Director

Aurora Winslade

Swarthmore College President Valerie Smith announced today that Aurora Winslade will join the College community as its new director of sustainability on Dec. 1, 2015.

"Aurora brings both a depth of experience and passion for environmental and social issues that will serve the College well as we work together to realize our goals of reducing energy use, managing storm water, stewarding Crum Woods, reducing waste, and collaborating with the local community to protect the natural environment," Smith says. "There is much work to be done as we further demonstrate our enduring and expansive commitment to sustainable initiatives on our campus."

“I am excited and honored to join the Swarthmore community,” Winslade says. “I am particularly drawn by the College’s rigorous academic environment, the commitment to public service embedded in its mission, and the passionate and engaged student body. I look forward to continuing my personal and professional growth at Swarthmore.”

Winslade brings more than a decade of experience in higher education and energy efficiency efforts in the private sector, where she helped to translate visionary ideas into on-the-ground reality. She is currently the transformational program manager for Hawaii Energy, a state program administered by Leidos Engineering, at which she designs and manages programs to shift the market for energy efficiency in Hawaii through education, research, and strategic partnerships.

In 2012, Winslade launched the sustainability office of the University of Hawaii. She and her colleagues developed a sustainability strategy for its 10-campus system, and she guided a process that spurred the university’s board of regents to incorporate a commitment to climate neutrality and zero waste.

As a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz and as its first sustainability director, Winslade spent more than 10 years collaborating with campus community members to develop a range of sustainability programs and build a fully funded, highly effective office.

Winslade's enthusiasm for sustainability intersects with her interest in social justice. While in Hawaii, she partnered with MA‘O Organic Farms, a social enterprise that employs at-risk youth between the ages of 17-24. The young people work on the farm part-time and receive a tuition waiver to attend community college. She helped to design a new degree program on sustainable community food systems to provide an opportunity for the youth to obtain a B.A. She is also a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, which inspires and connects students, young professionals, and citizens to promote human rights, diversity, and active citizenship in their communities.

In her role at Swarthmore, Winslade will work closely with an array of campus constituencies to ensure that the College’s sustainability programs reflect its Quaker roots and the long tradition of honoring the natural environment.

More than 200 individuals expressed interest in the position and finalists met on campus with a variety of constituencies, including the Sustainability Committee, the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee, students, faculty, staff, and members of the president’s staff. Members of the search committee included chair Greg Brown, vice president for finance and administration; Betsy Bolton, professor of English literature and coordinator of environmental studies; Gibson Cook '16; Heather Loring-Albright from the Office of Student Engagement; Olivia Ortiz '16; Bridget Scott '18; and the co-chairs of the Sustainability Committee, Ralph Thayer, director of maintenance, and Eric Wagner, men's soccer coach. 

“We shared a common vision regarding the multi-faceted role of the sustainability director,” Brown says. “All listened carefully to be sure that the new director would have the communication skills and leadership capacity to move us forward on issues pertaining to climate change and environmental sustainability.”

“I’m very excited we are going to be able to work with Aurora,” says Wagner. “She is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the field of sustainability.”

Winslade holds a B.A. in agriculture, ecology, and political economy from the University of California, Santa Cruz and will complete an MBA from Duke University in December. She will be joined at the College by her partner, Seth Calderhead, and their two sons, Thor, 7, and Keanu, 2.