Chobani, Microsoft, Cargill and RMI bring on CEOs and heads of sustainability


As my colleague Joel Makower pointed out in his 2022 wrap-up, it was the year green jobs and careers hit their stride.

Sustainability jobs are hot, and more companies are looking for diverse talent to fill those gaps. As the year drew to a close, we saw sustainability professionals capitalizing on those voids and jumping from one high-profile job to another. Movement from government roles to the private sector, the creation of new nonprofits and the rise of carbon management positions dominated the last quarter of 2022.

Big moves

Chobani, the dairy company best known for its yogurt, hired Nishant Roy as chief communications and impact officer where he will work on the company’s corporate communications, government relations, sustainability, community impact and philanthropy. Previously, Roy worked on social programs for people experiencing poverty at the United States Agency for International Development. 

Another consumer packaged goods company respected for its sustainability strategy, Simple Mills, added  Sheryl O’Loughlin to its board of directors. She is a veteran of the CPG space working with unique ingredients as she is also a board member of Miyoko’s Creamery, which creates plant-based dairy products.

And at Cargill, the massive meat and food giant with sustainability concerns to match, Brian Sikes, took over as CEO from Dave MacLennan, who served the top job since 1991. 

Stepping away from the food world, Marisa Buchanan moved from the head of sustainability finance at JPMorgan Chase to be the senior vice president of low-carbon solutions at BP. Eunice Heath, a veteran with 20 years at Dow, became the senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at CRH, the building materials company.

Government movement

Bridging the gap between government and sustainability leaders in the private sector, Microsoft hired Melanie Nakagawa as its new chief sustainability officer. She was previously the national security council’s senior director for climate and energy within the administration of President Joe Biden.

On the public side, the Senate confirmed Doug McKalip as chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Alexis Taylor as undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. McKalip, previously at the USDA, has been engaged with agriculture policy for three decades. He has experience with everything from soil conservation to supply chains. Taylor, who has worked with American farmers for years in Oregon, will oversee the USDA’s foreign agricultural service and trade promotion programs. 

Activists on the rise

In the nonprofit world, RMI, the sustainability research and advocacy organization working to transition the globe to a clean energy economy promoted Jon Creyts to CEO after 10 years at the organization. And Architecture for Humanity founder Cameron Sinclair created a new 501(c)3 called the Worldchanging Institute to focus on innovative solutions to social and humanitarian issues. 

Marla Blow joined the Coalition for Green Capital’s board of directors to help create a national green bank in 2023. The Coalition works to halt the climate crisis by directing and encouraging investment into green alternatives. Blow is president and COO of the Skoll Foundation, an organization that connects social entrepreneurs with capital. The ecological conservation and restoration NGO RePlanet announced the appointment of Karolina Lisslö Gylfe as its secretary general. She co-founded Greenovate, which sells organic products made from local birch sap, and Bee Urban, which supports the creation of habitats for pollinating insects and birds. 

On the ag side, Regenerative Rising works to convene experts and influencers to accelerate the update of regenerative farming practices. It added architect and urban planner Nisha Mary Poulose as its executive director, and the organization’s founder Seleyn DeYarus joined the board of directors.

Carbon management roles take off

Carbon management, mitigation and offsets have become hot issues for companies, and they are hiring to reflect that.

The startup Carbon Clean brought on Krishna Kumar Singhania, previously with oil and gas company Seadrill, as chief growth officer, signaling interest and investment in carbon capture. nZero, a carbon management software honored as one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2022, brought on Susane Berger to serve as chief revenue officer. She comes with enterprise tech experience, working previously as the chief customer officer and vice president for Salesforce for its marketing cloud division.

And in the U.K., energy and climate policy expert Philip Mann is the new senior manager of country programs for Climate Impact Partners, where he will focus much of his work on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which outlines how countries can use carbon markets to finance emission reduction projects.

Other names 

Sargent & Lundy CO2 manager Emily Kunkel was hired as a vice president in Thornton Tomasetti’s Applied Science practice to work on decarbonizing the business. Innisfree Hotels brought on consultant Bethanne Edwards in a newly created role for the company, director of sustainability. 

First Sentier Investors promoted Kate Turner to the global head of responsible investment. Kyle Cahill, previously with John Hancock Financial Services, is now the environmental sustainability disclosure and engagement lead at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. 

Elizabeth Seeger left KKR to join the International Sustainability Standards Board. Former Renewal Workshop circular lead Maura Dilley is a founding partner of a new business, Cascade Circular. Tthe environmental engineering and construction services firm, Brown and Caldwell, announced that water industry leader Diala Dandach has joined the company as senior director of program management. And Crowley Maritime promoted Meaghan Atkinson to vice president of sustainability. 

Renewables engineering firm Catalyze and electrification technology company SPAN both went on hiring sprees. SPAN brought on energy policy expert Audrey Zibelman, also a board member at RMI, as its newest board member; Douglas Booms, formerly of Amazon, as COO; and Joy Lenz, formerly of Google, as senior vice president of engineering.

Catalyze hired four energy sector veterans: Brian McDonald, formerly of Cupertino Electric, as COO; Terrill Laughton, previously at Johnson Controls, as chief commercial officer; Joseph Kiwak, previously with companies including Sunfinity Renewable Energy, Sunnova Energy and NRG Renew, as senior vice president of supply chain management; and Tristan Glenwright, formerly of Tesla, as vice president of energy storage solutions. 

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