SUMASA Board Elections – Spring 2014

Sustainability Management Student Association (SUMASA)

Elections for the 2014-2015 Academic Year

The SUMA student community is an important and unique aspect of the SUMA experience. The Student Association plays an integral role in the development of this community. If you are interested in taking an active role in student life, please consider running for a position on the Executive Board.


SUMASA Board Candidates


Sebastian Hanna – President

sebasI believe I have the skills and experience to lead the Sustainability Management students. I grew up in different countries and moved around the US, around different cultures and this gave me great confidence in making friends easily and indirectly helped me to become good at networking and meeting new people. I am passionate about sustainability and love representing SUMA at events. It comes naturally to me to attend as many sustainability events at Columbia and other organizations in the city as I can. I want SUMA to be as active as possible when it comes to being present when it helps at events and being one of the leaders of the sustainability related programs in NYC. I believe I would do a great job translating feedback of students right away and I would do great with coordinating with the board members. I have great teamwork skills from my previous internships. I try and stay up to date with sustainability initiatives, news and events and I’m sure I can put this to good use if I am elected President. I am very approachable and would love to reach out to every current and new student to see how we as a student association can help with making SUMA active, professional and noticeable in Columbia and New York, whether it is representing SUMA at events, conferences, etc.. Finally, I have so much ambition, drive and motivation for making SUMA an incubator for the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.


Prerna Chatterjee – President

prernaI believe in three words: Sharing, Communication, and Implementation.

With YOU:

I am passionate and self-driven about your interests and your voice. I care about ensuring that campus opportunities are equally distributed to each of you. I believe in communicating the results and will continue to strive for transparency and equality for our student body.

With the Admin and Other Schools:

Being a SUMA student, I do understand the dissatisfaction of being unable to get accepted into a course in SIPA or the Columbia Business School. I realize the importance of building our relationships with other schools at Columbia University, to conduct events together in order to bridge this gap and raise the SCE to an equivalent platform. The Board will work with the Administration to facilitate such activities and address your concerns.

With the Alumni and Professional Leaders in Sustainability:

The usual happy hours will continue but along with that we will have semi-formal cocktail events/ talks where we can connect with our alumni, green business leaders and host fund raising programs. Networking is essential but “Relevant Networking” is what I will strive for.

With You again:

After every meeting, the SUMASA board will host a “follow up” meeting informing the students the status of their concern and how it has been addressed. Most importantly, you must communicate with the Board, share your ideas, and together we will make it happen.

Come on, take the first step towards a new beginning, come out and vote for one of yours, come out and vote for Prerna.


Karen Mahrous – VP of Academic Affairs

karenI am running for the position of VP of Academic Affairs. My goal with this position will not only be to liaise with our teachers and program directors on the academic needs of the students, but also to focus on professional development in the Sustainability Management program.

The professional development component is one that is particularly important to me. I feel strongly that it is the responsibility the program has to the students, and the students have to each other, to ensure that we have a good return on the investment we are making into our education.

I would facilitate this by putting on more career panels that give SUMA students the opportunity to hear from and network with professionals in various fields of sustainability.  I would also like to make sure that students are very well informed about opportunities to join professional organizations in the fields they are pursuing.

My general approach to make this happen will be to simply network in professional and academic organizations focused around sustainability and spread the word about the our program. I will also be asking SUMA students to contribute ideas and work together to compile great panels and speakers.

Essentially, my plan is to do for everyone what I have been doing for myself in my own personal job search, which is networking as much as possible, setting up informational sessions with practitioners, and educating potential employers on our program here at Columbia.

Lesley Seymour – VP of Communications

lesleyThough this is my first semester at Columbia, I am blown away by the Columbia community. Not only am I loving the learning, but I am simply astonished by how nice and how welcoming my peers and professors are–even to an older student like me (I am a 57 year old mother of two!). I am completely overwhelmed by the delicious invitations to fabulous and intriguing lectures by guest speakers at all times of the day and on weekends; I have tried to take in every one I can. I am amazed by the desire of students to work together and by the directors of the program who want to learn from our experiences and improve the offerings each semester.  Columbia has added such joy to my life that the danger is I will simply quit my day job and hang around campus all day and night!

I can’t do that but I can help out on the board. As a long time member of the (dying :)) media, professional public speaker, and social media expert, I know a lot about engaging communities around good content and would love to help SUMA continue the great work it does. Please see the attached resume.

Dana McManamon – VP of Communications


I would be a great fit for the position of Vice President of Communications for four main reasons.

First, I believe 100% that improved communication between students, the New York City community, administration and social media can help SUMA become a stronger and more robust program. Facilitating dialogue, promoting events, and maintaining an online presence will allow more students to succeed, network, land jobs, improve their educational experience, and develop their skills. If elected, I will work to ensure that SUMA’s website, social media profiles, and communication channels are run in a fun and informative manner.

Second, I am experienced in mail-outs, website management, event organization, and communicating via social media and other online outlets with large groups of people.

Third, I am very well organized and feel empowered and at ease in positions of leadership. If elected, I will work to serve the students I represent to the best of my means and lead SUMA to a brighter future.

Last, I have extensive experience with student organizational bodies, having served as a Student Ambassador for 3 years of my undergraduate career at James Madison University, where I was a figurehead of the student body to university staff, students and alumni. In my position, I worked as part of a leadership team whose aim was to serve the student body and invest in the betterment of the student community. I envisage myself leading in a similar way for SUMA.

Ece Ersoz – VP of Communications

eveI moved to New York City to join the SUMA program with passion for sustainability and a goal of getting the most out of this experience. I have a BS in Geological Engineering and an MS in Environmental Technology. Besides my academic studies, I worked at Istanbul’s biggest arts and culture foundation, where I had the opportunity to develop strong communication skills and realize the importance of listening to and understanding people coming from all around the world.

I believe that communication is one of the key elements of being successful in our careers, developing our personal brands, and marketing our talents. I attended numerous events that I have been informed by SUMASA and that significantly helped me to establish my professional and social network in a new city. Now, I want to take a step further and give back to the SUMA community. In addition to maximizing opportunities, some of the goals that I want to accomplish as a VP are as listed, but not limited to the following:

–       Promote the SUMASA website as a go-to resource for the sustainability audience on campus/in NYC,

–       Increase the visibility of SUMA community on social media channels,

–       Expand the onboarding of international students, considering the global nature of the program.

I want every SUMA student to feel as thrilled as I am to be a part of this community. I will dedicate myself to the Co-Vice President of Communications role on the SUMASA Board and help you to get the most out of this program!

Watson Millison – VP of Events

watsonLet me help enhance your SUMA experience outside the classroom, via social activities and developing partnerships with the NYC sustainability community- on and off-campus.

Building community and relationships comes naturally to me, and it is critical in ensuring a successful SUMA experience. In my first two semesters, I have taken an active role in student life by organizing intramural athletic teams and planning happy hours. SUMASA was created to help develop the student community, and I look forward to the potential opportunity to continue to grow the SUMA community outside of the classroom. I intend to leverage my position in the Urban Green Council’s Emerging Professionals Programs Committee to serve as a liaison between the UGC and SUMA, and continue to help develop strategic partnerships throughout the NYC sustainability community.


Shaun A. Hoyte – VP of Community Outreach

shaunI originally joined the SUMA program with a vision of combining my professional work experience and acquiring knowledge from the faculty and my peers to help combat the environmental hazards in the world.  As the VP of Community Outreach, I plan to introduce SUMA to the existing programs here at Columbia as well as other similar programs across NY.   I am a native New Yorker, which aids in my knowledge of how and where to direct and establish many relationships on and off campus in the NYC Region. I recently took part in a presentation focused on Energy Efficiency at the high school of Math, Science and Engineering for the Columbia Mentors.  It is important for all of us as future Sustainable Managers to inform the community about the potential hazards that can occur if we do not monitor and adjust our daily habits. I would organize outreach programs and volunteer opportunities to help support this cause. I would also build relationships with businesses that focus on improving their sustainability platform and footprints, and ensure that the SUMA program is well known and respected.

Many of us quit our jobs and moved across the world for the opportunity to study here at Columbia University.  My commitment to you will be to help this experience be stimulating, encouraging and last but not least, fun.   It would be an honor to serve on our board as we all are striving for a better world currently and in the future.   Thanks for your consideration.

Xin Hui Yeo – Treasurer & Board Secretary

XinHi! I’m Xin Hui and I’m running for the position of Board Secretary and Treasurer. I have proven to be meticulous, detailed and organized and have experience in financial reporting and analysis. I’m also very level-headed and non-impulsive. As such, I think through decisions carefully and ensure that the pros and cons are thought-out before proceeding. I am both a good team player as well as a strong individual worker which makes me a suitable candidate for this position. I promise that I will provide my honest opinions to the board on projects and activities the board is deciding to undertake and ensure that sound financial decisions are made. I want this position as I believe I can contribute to the student body by making the most out of the budget and by ensuring that your views and concerns are heard, noted and that action is taken to address them.

An initiative that I would like to bring to SUMASA is an annual event where alumni, current students and new students can come together and share their experiences. This could be a one to two day optional event that can be held in the beginning of semester or at the end of semester when new students are admitted. It should preferable be held on campus. Faculty and administration can also speak about the program at this event.

  • Alumni are invited to some back to share about their experiences and opportunities in their field.
  • Current students can share their insight on their experience in Columbia, courses, clubs, and activities.
  • New students can learn from current students and alumni as well as feel welcomed into the program.


  • Provide an opportunity for alumni to connect/ reconnect and create a sense of belonging to the program
  • Provide current students an opportunity to network with alumni and learn of opportunities in the industry
  • Make new students feel a sense of exclusivity and that the program is cohesive

Thank you!

Renner Rachel – Treasurer & Board Secretary

rennerWhen I first thought about whether or not I am a good match for the Treasurer position, I began to reflect confidently on my related experiences: working closely with a business owner for a few years, interning at a non-profit and government agency, presenting pitches to a student investment fund, management consulting for a small-business, and earning a degree in finance. But truly, one’s potential productivity is not dictated by his or her experiences; rather it culminates in having the required skillset that corresponds to the position.

This skillset can be recognized through five components. First, a Treasurer needs to communicate effectively by delivering clear and concise messages in a timely manner. Second, he or she needs to plan strategically by envisioning the resources needed to reach certain objectives. Third, a Treasurer needs to understand budgeting and be cognizant of the fine relationship between impartiality and efficient resource allocation. Fourth, he or she must make projections based on observed trends and realistic assumptions to assure that resources are utilized to maximum potential. Fifth, the Treasurer must be a team player who is willing to work outside of the scope of the job, as a Treasurer’s responsibility regularly crosses the boundaries of many other positions.

Having a Treasurer who embodies this skillset is critical for ensuring the Board’s trajectory of achievements. Indeed, this program has no limits and we who are all a part of it today shape the direction and successes of it tomorrow.

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