We know it's purely a coincidence, but we can't help being struck by the irony -- one day after a national article in Think Progress praised Susanna Sutherland, the City of Knoxville's director of the office of sustainability, the city has announced that she is leaving the office. I mean, just re-read this paragraph from yesterday's story. Does that sound like a person about to quit?
Nevertheless, she isn't satisfied yet. "There's so much more to be done," Sutherland said, with a gleam in her eye. "Our country is incredibly far behind the rest of the world, and our region is so far behind the rest of the country. So none of us can afford to be pleased with our progress." The gleam intensifies when I ask her about the scale of the climate challenge. Cities are "the biggest carbon producers, and yet we have the most control over carbon...I'm a doer, and when I die, I want to look back and say I did everything I could do."
Since Sutherland is leaving to get her Ph.D. in Energy Science and Engineering at the University of Tennessee, it's not like she's giving up the fight just yet. Also, since the Ph.D. application process takes months, this is clearly something that has been in the works for a while. And since the city has already picked Sutherland's replacement, they've clearly known about it for a while too. That replacement, Erin Burns Gill, actually used to work for the city as the sustainability coordinator from 2008 to 2010, so she should fit right in.
So best of luck to Sutherland, who will presumably still pop up around town. And now that she's not working full time, we sincerely hope she has more time to go running with her cute pup and watch Adam Sandler movies.
Full press release below:
MAYOR ROGERO NAMES NEW DIRECTOR FOR OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITYKnoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero today named Erin Burns Gill, an associate for ICF International, Energy, Environment & Transportation Group, as the new director for the Office of Sustainability. Gill will replace Susanna Sutherland who is resigning from her position today to pursue graduate studies.Gill was an ICF account manager for Georgia Power Company's Commercial Energy Efficiency Program and previously served as a program analyst in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.She is the former Sustainability Coordinator with the City of Knoxville where she planned and executed City projects to advance renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. In that role, Gill was responsible for the success of the Knoxville Solar America Cities Program, funded by the Department of Energy and designed to strengthen local market infrastructure for solar energy technologies. She has experience developing and implementing energy and environmental programs and tracking their performance through customer interaction and targeted marketing."Erin has the know-how and passion to lead the City of Knoxville's sustainability efforts into the next phase, and I am pleased that she is returning to be part of our team," Mayor Rogero said. "Her knowledge of energy programs and track record with internal and external partners will be extremely valuable to us."A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Gill received her master's in Environmental Management from Yale University. She is a native of Oak Ridge.Sutherland has been accepted into the Ph.D. program for Energy Science and Engineering at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.In accepting her resignation, Mayor Rogero said: "I greatly appreciate Susanna's accomplishments in the Office of Sustainability. Through her extensive partnerships across local, regional, and national sectors and tireless work ethic, Susanna has transformed the City's sustainability operations from plan to reality. Her successful grant writing, program development, and project management, along with clear vision and tactful leadership, gained national recognition for Knoxville's sustainability efforts. We wish her the very best."Gill, who begins on Tuesday, September 3, will work with Sustainability Project Manager Jake Tisinger to ensure that the City of Knoxville continues its success as a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency programs.