Alex joined SUMA in fall 2019 with the goal of entering the private sector and helping consumer goods companies develop products through a circular economy lens and reduce environmental impacts along supply chains. Prior to enrolling in the program, he served as the operations manager for PSE Healthy Energy, a nonprofit think tank in Oakland, California that studies the intersections between energy policy, public health, and environmental justice and provides scientific expertise to government agencies, NGOs, and grassroots organizations. Alex is originally from Los Altos, California and got a B.S. in environmental policy analysis and planning from UC Davis. Alex is incredibly passionate about sustainability, and is interested in expanding his knowledge and participation in environmental justice, conservation, and social justice causes. In his free time, Alex enjoys going to concerts and music festivals, playing video games, running, skiing, and snowboarding.
VP OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS
After receiving her license as an architect from the Council of Architecture in India, and working in residential architecture, Rubana felt there was a gaping hole between sustainable designs and implementation. Deciding to be that bridge, she joined the SUMA program in Spring 2020 to polish the skills necessary to build sustainable and equitable cities. From leading groups in documenting rural and urban infrastructure to building green structures, Rubana has experience working in the conceptual, design and practical side of architecture. She believes that the best way to reduce the effects of climate change is focusing on resilient design, reduction of consumption, and restorative policies. Rubana has spent 5 months living and learning in a zero-waste community in Auroville, building prototypes of completely green buildings that capture carbon, volunteering, and creating awareness about sustainable and vernacular design. She is constantly looking for new architecture to stare at, owns a dog named Timon, and loves the Lord of the Rings series.
VP OF COMMUNICATIONS
After graduating from The University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Journalism and Latin American Studies, Sam worked 7+ years in both digital media and marketing. He’s worn many different hats over the years and has work experience which includes everything from writing for the Philadelphia City Paper as a freelance journalist to aligning the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals with CSR initiatives as a content manager in SAP’s purpose-driven marketing department. Before joining the SUMA program in the fall of 2019, Sam earned both his LEED Green Associate and LEED AP BD+C (Building Design and Construction) certifications and has an interest in both impact storytelling and energy efficiency/resiliency in the built environment. Sam can be found hiking, biking, and climbing in his free time.
VP OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Kyla Aiuto is a Master’s Candidate in the Sustainability Management program at Columbia University. She has multiple years of experience in operations management, business development, and consulting. Prior to joining the SUMA program, she helped enable global policy changes and grassroots movements for Fortune 500 companies, NGO’s and major trade associations. As an Italian and a San Francisco Bay Area native, Kyla is a food-connoisseur. Her curiosity lies in tackling issues within the global food-system and in using food as a catalyst for change. She attended the 2018 Social Gastronomy Movement Summit in Rio De Janeiro, where she advised sustainability and social impact leaders on community outreach strategies for the budding global “food-for-good” movement. This summer, Kyla joins PepsiCo’s global sustainability team as an EDF Climate Corps fellow focused on measuring and minimizing GHG emissions through supplier engagement. Kyla is a graduate of Boston University with a B.S. in Hospitality Management and a minor in Sustainable Energy. In her spare time, Kyla enjoys podcasts, boxing, and skiing. She is also a three-time marathoner and a former competitive runner.
VP OF FINANCE
Melissa joined the SUMA program in Spring 2020 with an interest in urban sustainability and organizational change. Prior to Columbia, she managed web and technology projects at the Downtown Alliance, DNAinfo, and as a consultant. She is currently a volunteer organizer for ClimateAction.tech. In her free time, Melissa enjoys making things — food, crafts, music, websites — with varying results.
VP OF EVENTS
Kwan Ng is currently the Director of Strategic Growth at Summit CityMD and over the past 7 years has helped change healthcare access in the New York area, opening nearly 150 healthcare offices. A Connecticut native, he received his BA in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts. He joined the Sustainability Management program in the autumn of 2019, with an interest in learning how to effectively plan, communicate, and execute long-term stable practices. He’s a polymath, particularly fascinated with Beaux-Arts architecture, vexillology, indie folk music, entrepreneurial case studies, rom-coms and heist films, and off-the-beaten path travel.
John Hodges joined the SUMA program as a Master’s Candidate in Spring 2019 as a part time student. While attending the program, he is the current Global Sustainability Lead for Wyndham Destinations. In this role he tracks and measures the development of the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs, developed a carbon accounting program, works towards water stewardship, and reduces diversion rates while increasing reforestation. He is tasked with creating innovative solutions through integrated reporting, the U.N. SDGs, global partnerships, and programs to mitigate climate change and promote social justice (#climatejustice). John also serves as the president of the board for Sustainable Morristown, a non-profit organization that works as the town’s “green team” towards the education and engagement of town residents. He holds a BA in Hospitality from Fairleigh Dickinson University and will complete an MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia University in 2021.