SUMASA Board Elections 2016-2017

Candidate Night

Thursday March 31st SIPA Building Room 407

For more information about the positions, click here: SUMASA Elections 16-17


President Candidate: Cheryl Poccia

CherylPictureMy name is Cheryl Poccia and I am running for SUMASA Board President. This past year I have been on the board as the VP of Finance specializing in the organization, planning and administrative responsibilities of the board. Along with the SUMASA board of 2016, we have tenaciously developed an outline and strategy that will be more efficient and effective over the coming year focusing on networking events and professional development. Class of 2017 will bring this next year to a whole new level for the SUMA program. As President; I have built the network and resources needed to execute our goals; below is a brief overview of the leadership I plan to bring along with the new members of the board.

  1. Collaboration with faculty, students and other programs.
  2. Communication across the program and with School of Professional Studies and the Earth Institute.
  3. Improving the alumni/student directory.
  4. Monthly events available for SUMA students that focus on cultural outings, semester gatherings, networking, career services, alumni inclusion and educational development.
  5. Planning and executing the 2017 Symposium.

President Candidate: Lindsay Ferzoco

Lindsay FerzocoI would like to express my sincere gratitude to the standing board for their consideration. I believe that through the SUMASA organization, the student body has a voice that can not only improve upon the existing program, but also enhance it for future classes. During my time here, I have established leadership in uniting members of my incoming class, demonstrating inclusion and fairness while attending and encouraging participation in Columbia and SUMA sponsored events.  Through these actions, I have created a strong presence in the program that will translate into higher participation throughout the student body. It is crucial to the success of this program to increase participation as we cannot achieve our goals with the efforts of the board and program administrators alone. My plans include effective marketing, personal outreach among members of the board to the student body, and effective communication regarding the impact we, as a collective, can have on both our community as well as the reputational value of this program. As president I would go about creating stronger committees to ensure our goals are met and represented to a broader range of the student body, the program administrators, and the University community as a whole. Additionally, I have developed strong task management and problem solving skills through my professional experience that will allow me to successfully lead the SUMASA board for the upcoming academic year.

Vice President Academic Affairs Candidate: Donald Wissell

Don WissellProfessionally, I grew up in Financial Services working for larger investment firms.  I have been pursuing a M.S. in Sustainability Management to apply my skill set toward a new field to me, Sustainability.  The underlying skills required for both disciplines have many parallels:  innovative thinking; analysis/problem solving; complex project management; relevant marketing plans; implementation of new technologies; and public education.  As I pursue this goal in finding a new path I realize that Columbia University provides many opportunities for us to find our way in this evolving field.  I have continuously been encouraged by this program and its drive to have students attain the knowledge and skills they need to hit the ground running in the real world.  In short our success is their success.  In representing fellow student colleagues as a liaison to help the administration to develop the program curriculum I feel well suited to give constructive feedback and encourage a networking environment that is critical to our development.  One event I found particularly helpful was the Course Speed Dating and thought a quarterly cocktail party with faculty and invited industry guests could be very helpful in bridging student industry interest and goals with the curriculum providers.

Vice President Academic Affairs Candidate: Leticia Valadez

leticia nevesI’m on my second semester in SUMA and planning on graduating in the Spring of 2017.

I’d like to run for the VP of Academic Affairs position because, although I believe that the SUMA curriculum has a lot of potential, it still lacks in some aspects, meaning that it has a lot of room to improve.

Since my first semester I’ve been to many events and workshops from SUMA and other schools and organizations like SIPA and ECO (The SIPA Environmental Coalition), and this exposure has given me some good ideas on how our program curriculum can be better. We can take advantage of what Columbia has to offer by bringing to SUMA subjects that are talked about in depth in other schools and can be of great interest and importance to us. We can study the possibility of creating LABs for classes that students seem to struggle with more and organize more hard skills workshops that can improve students’ performance and learning experience.

Vice President of Communications Candidate: Amanda Stevens

amanda stevensIn a way, this is an objective of the whole of SUMASA, but formalizing a specific role will help bring needed capacity to better understanding the barriers for participation in SUMA-related activities and strengthened community branding/identity. Finding ways to bring students together physically or virtually outside of class and events will significantly help build the community cohesion. For example, the t-shirt sales could be leveraged tying the visual connection to actions that the students take, such as photo contests for wearing the t-shirt during sustainability-related activities or in unusual places (travel, volunteering, work, etc.), which will build a virtual connection between students and bring visibility to our  program. Other virtual campaigns can also be leveraged to develop community identity – such as Twitter and Instagram hashtags designed for students to share why they joined the program or what sustainability means to them – with community-based or other incentives to encourage participation. Finally, one of the primary barriers to community outreach is student participation – this position would oversee the development of a survey specifically designed to better understand the scheduling needs, motivations, and barriers to student engagement.

I  have a number of ideas on how to build out the survey and use physical and virtual campaigns to build community identity, having experience building employee engagement campaigns at both WRI and Etsy, and would be extremely interested in sharing and building on these experiences with SUMASA.

Vice President of Communications Candidate: Jordan Chan

jordan chan At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, my experience as President of the student chapter of the Green Building Council and Secretary of Sustainability in Student Government have provided me with leadership skills that will help me succeed as the VP of Communications on the SUMASA Board. More specifically, as President I developed and updated all content on the Facebook page and the University campus website. As Secretary of Sustainability, I developed and promoted sustainability programs and events, including posts on the sustainability website, and worked with both on and off campus news and social media outlets. If elected, I am confident these skills will enable me to be successful in the VP of Communications position.

I’m interested in the position because I want to become more involved in the program in a hands-on capacity. As the co-VP of Communications, I would like to assist SUMASA gain greater visibility via promoting events, and provide enhanced opportunities for student engagement. I also aim to collaborate with the board to continue to develop a strong brand, via the website, newsletters, and external communications. Additionally, I would like to leverage existing social media networks and campus communication channels to help students identify sustainability related opportunities and events both on and off campus.

If elected, I will be committed to the success of SUMASA. I believe my previous academic and leadership experience accompanied by my writing and communication skills will enable me to be an asset to the board.

Vice President Events Candidate: Sargam Saraf

I am honored to run for the Vice President of Events for SUMASA. I believe I am a qualified candidate because of my prior experience as Marketing Director for Undergraduate Student Association Commission (USAC)- Academic Affairs, Performing Arts Director for Indian Student Union at UCLA, and UCLA Campus Representative for California Student Sustainability Coalition.

During my time with USAC, I successfully planned networking events for the entire undergraduate student body at UCLA such as Major Blast, Social Entrepreneurship 101 etc. I managed social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) accounts for USAC’s Academic Affairs. I also created the website using WordPress to promote our events. In addition to this, as Performing Arts Director for Southern California’s largest student-run group Indian Student Union, I helped plan several cultural dance events, organized auditions, co-wrote the script and directed a skit for ISU’s Silver Jubilee Culture Show for 1400+ attendees. I oversaw the membership sales and event attendance for over 400 members of the Indian Student Union.

Finally, as UCLA’s Campus Representative for one of the nation’s biggest student run sustainability student council CSSC, I was able to work in a team of three to oversee UCLA’s first solar powered concert ECoachella. As a team member, we actively found sponsors for the event, organized a committee of volunteers for the event, scheduled weekly meetings leading up to the event, and were recognized by on-campus group E3 for our efforts.

Thus, I believe with my relevant experiences and interpersonal skills, I am a qualified candidate for SUMASA’s VP of Events.

Vice President Events Candidate: Hilary A Osborn

I’m interested in applying for the position of Co-VP of events. I’m excited by the prospect of becoming more involved in the culture of our program. I want to contribute to enriching the experience of my fellow SUMA students, and the position of Co-VP of events will facilitate that for me. As a part of my position as an art management assistant at my undergraduate university, I participated in planning some of the program’s events. I would relish the opportunity to gain more experience with event planning by organizing on a regular basis. There are two types of events that I’m interested in organizing. I’d like to plan social functions for our program, in addition to our weekly happy hours, that allow us to solidify each other as a part of our professional network. My vision is that these types of events would take place in a different context than we would normally spend time together, for example, events that involve elements of team building exercises. The other type of event I’m hoping to plan would involve tapping into the young professionals of New York City that are utilizing sustainability in their careers, to bring them to a forum for SUMA students to gain unique insight from their experiences, allowing us as students to truly envision the reality of our future careers, and the wide range of possibilities in front of us. I’ve lived in NYC for 4 years and have cultivated a wide and diverse network. I believe this network could benefit SUMASA events, providing access to my previously established connections throughout the city. I have strong social and organizational skills, which I believe will aid me in communication with the variety of contributing parties, working as a team to bring a new season of exciting networking opportunities for our SUMA class. I look forward to hearing back about my potential candidacy, and to see the new additions to the SUMASA team.

Vice President Community Outreach Candidate: Modou Cham

modouThe idea here is to take SUMASA outside Columbia and into the diverse world of sustainability in New York City by engaging with various sustainability communities. This will help SUMA students gain more knowledge of the city’s sustainability scene. I believe this can be done through volunteering, networking events, seminars, speaking engagements and internship opportunities, which can all lead to more employment opportunities in the field of sustainability for SUMA students.

Further, since joining the SUMA program, I have encountered numerous individuals who are interested in the program. I believe as the VP of community outreach, I can also help bring more talented students to the program. For example, this past October, an intern at the UN I work with told me about his interest in our program, I encouraged and guided him throughout his application process and he was thankfully accepted last week. My overall goal is to act as a liaison officer and bridge the gap between the SUMA program and the opportunities in sustainability New York City provides.


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