Kyla Aiuto is a Master’s Candidate in the Sustainability Management program at Columbia University. Prior to joining the SUMA program, she helped enable global policy changes and grassroots movements for Fortune 500 companies, NGO’s and trade associations. As a 2020 EDF Climate Corps Fellow, Kyla worked with PepsiCo’s global sustainability team to develop data-driven supplier engagement plans as part of PepsiCo’s global climate action strategy. In her spare time, Kyla enjoys podcasts, boxing, running, and eating figs.
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
Xantal Tejada Herrera
Xantal graduated from The University of San Francisco with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Peace and Justice. Interested in fostering relationships that support development through communication, Xantal obtained a Post-Graduate Certificate in International Conflict Management from the International Peace and Security Institute immediately upon graduation. Over time, Xantal has worked in startups across sectors and countries. As US Public Relations Officer at Down to Xjabelle, she focused on increasing awareness around workplace inclusion and the cultural heritage of Guatemalan textiles. Xantal then became Regional Account Manager at Kinvolved and focused on supporting schools reduce chronic absenteeism through strategic interventions and client engagement. She is interested in the role of CSR in the sustainable development of communities. Xantal enjoys eating, all activities in nature, and spending time with dogs.
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.
Micaela Vega Jenkins
Micaela has two years of experience as a political-risk and business intelligence consultant in NY-based firm Veracity Worldwide, which equipped her with strong interpersonal, communication, project management, and event planning skills. Micaela’s role has included sourcing contacts in emerging markets and helping to organize a panel at the Annual Copper Mining Conference in Zambia. She also volunteered at the NGO Hecho Por Nosotros where she co-moderated a panel on the potential of MSMEs for the organization’s event at the United Nations 2020 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Micaela applied to the Sustainability Management program after participating in the Climate Leadership: Disrupting Business as Usual Symposium last fall. In her spare time, Micaela enjoys running, reading and cooking.
VP of Community Outreach
Claudia has 2 years of experience as a part time Community Outreach Intern for Special Olympics Florida and the 2022 Special Olympics USA games. In this position, Claudia contributed to the development of the 2022 Games Sustainability plan, which included creating and implementing sustainable sourcing relationships and waste diversion with different partners. In this role, she also contributed to the development of the Orlando bid proposal for 2022 Games Volunteer Program, where Claudia solicited schools and corporations and gained 1,300 volunteer towards the goal of 10,000 volunteers. In her spare time, Claudia likes to bake, bike and read.