Who We Are

The Sustainability Management Student Association (SUMASA) is a student organization elected to represent the student body of the Columbia University Sustainability Management Master’s Program.  We strive to advocate on behalf of the students, foster community engagement, and provide meaningful development through academic and networking opportunities in an evolving sustainability industry.

SUMASA Board Election Results 2016-2017

The official results of the 2016-2017 SUMASA Board elections are in. The elected candidates for SUMASA 2016 – 2017 are the following:

  • President – Cheryl Poccia
  • VP of Academic Affairs – Leticia Valadez
  • VP of Communications – Jordan Chan
  • VP of Communications – Amanda Stevens
  • VP of Events – Hilary Osborn
  • VP of Community Outreach – Modou Cham

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the elections. We’re happy to see that we have a group of committed students who want to push to make this a better program. We want to encourage all of you to keep working and collaborating together.


Recap of 5th Annual SUMASA Symposium: Driving Sustainability

SUMASA is very proud to have presented our 5th Annual Sustainable Perspective Symposium, “Driving Sustainability: Who’s Responsible?” last Friday, April 8th at Casa Italiana on Columbia University’s campus.

As Steve Cohen, Executive Director of the Earth Institute, announced in his opening speech, we are proud to have students so motivated in the area of sustainability. Nilda Mesa, Director from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, briefed the audience in her keynote speech on the changes occurring through the growth of New York City in the face of poverty. Nilda’s point were validated through the featured speaker, Matthew Ketschke, VP of Distributed Resource Integration, Con Edison Company New York, who discussed the rising challenges of solar and wind power across the grid of the New York City area and the innovation that is constantly being harnessed and shared nationwide to create new ways to store and utilize energy.

Our Master of Ceremony, Brian Wennersten of NBCUniversal Media, introduced us to two enthralling panel discussions on Reshaping Corporate Innovation and Advancing Resilient Cities.

Reshaping Corporate Innovation panel was impeccably moderated by our SUMA Professor Celine Ruben-Salama of CBRE. Panelists discussed the importance of reporting and engaging corporations to be more involved. Panelists discussed how to involve consumers; waste management of organic foods into the sewer system and the importance of metrics.
Panelists: Ralph Bianculli Jr., Managing Director of Emerald Brand; Marisa Buchanan, Executive Director, Sustainable Finance at JPMorgan Chase; Ellen Kondracki, Senior Director of Global Sustainability Becton, Dickinson and Company; Peter Smith, Vice President of Delos Solutions Delos Living.

Steve Clemon’s of Atlantic Live, had the audience captivated with his in-depth knowledge of the presenters and entertaining commentary on the Advancing Resilient Cities panel. The discussions ranged from electric busses, innovation with lighting to advancing sustainability through sport franchises and our common devotion of athletics.
Panelists: Collette Ericsson Chief Sustainability Officer and Enterprise Asset Management Lead  for New York Metropolitan Transportation Bus Operations; Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, President of Sports Alliance; Miguel Sossa, Co-lead Smart Cities NA Accenture; Amanda Stevens, Manager, Env. Research Program at NYSERDA.

Interested in making an impact on next year’s symposium? Please use this link to submit your thoughts on next year’s topics, speaker or interest in volunteering on the committee.

We would like to invite you all to celebrate the success of the program on Thursday at 8:00pm at Mel’s Burger (2850 Broadway, NYC). Looking forward to seeing you all there.

SUMASA 2015-2016 Board Members
Shaun A. Hoyte, President
Keith Wong, VP Academic Affairs
Crystal Li, VP Communications
Derrick Sullivan, VP Community Outreach
Jocelyn Gan, VP Events
Cheryl Poccia, VP Finance

A special thank you to all who volunteered! This event couldn’t have been the success that it was without their teamwork and dedication.

SUMASA Symposium Volunteers
Leticia Valadez
Lindsay Ferzoco
Ari Kapiloff
Jordan Chan
Alia’a Harum
Fred Yonghabi
Cher Yang
Sargam Saraf
Kerry Babb

Special Thank You for your generous guidance and support.
Allison Laude
Pamela Vreeland
Diane Spizzirro
Marivi Perdomo Caba

Vote Now!

green-voteVoting Begins!

Open now until Wednesday 4/6 at 11:30 PM
Click here for the link

To all current SUMA students: Please Vote! 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.

As SUMA students, this is your opportunity to elect the members of the board that will serve in the development of the SUMA student community.

Cheryl Poccia
Lindsay Ferzoco

Vice President of Academic Affairs 
Donald Wissell
Leticia Valadez

Vice President of Events
Sargam Saraf
Hilary A Osborn

Co-Vice Presidents of Communications  
Jordan Chan
Amanda Stevens

Vice President of Community Outreach 
Modou Cham


President Candidate: Cheryl Poccia

CherylPicture My 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 FerzocoMy name is Lindsay Ferzoco and I am running for SUMASA President. As a part time student, I leaned on SUMASA events to meet fellow classmates in my first semester and it has been an integral part of my personal growth and experience at Columbia. My ability to communicate effectively, delegate, and manage multiple projects is evident in my professional experience. As president, I am looking forward to driving the following vision:

– Increase participation by taking a personal approach to planning and communicating events. Participation and effective student feedback is crucial in achieving our collective goals.
– Foster the creativity of our current students by collaborating with the forward looking and visionary individuals we have in our program. I want to partner with student initiatives to help them not only reach a broader audience, but also showcase the talent and highlight the value of our program.
– Lastly, overall transparency of SUMASA bylaws will go a long way in advancing the interests of our program as a whole. This includes making the bylaws of our organization public and limiting the term of board positions to one year so as to give incoming students the chance to participate in leadership opportunities. I strongly believe that with a structured approach to our board, we can ensure a result driven organization.

As SUMASA President, I will be a strong advocate of our student body and lead a board that has meaningful impact. I want to create an organization that thrives on student participation, feedback, and creativity. I hope that you will vote for me to represent your interests.


VP Academic Affairs Candidate: Donald Wissell

Don Wissell Professionally, 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.


VP Academic Affairs Candidate: Leticia Valadez

leticia neves My name is Leticia Valadez, I’m on my second semester in SUMA and I’m running for the SUMASA board VP of Academic Affairs. I see this position as a bridge between students, faculty, professionals and the SPS Administration. In order to really give the SUMA students a competitive advantage the program has to offer classes and workshops that will keep up with the diverse and fast growing trends of the market. As the VP of Academic Affairs I think it’s crucial to reach out to students and find out about what they’d like to see in the program.

Since my first semester I’ve been very active as a volunteer with the current SUMASA board through all of the events that they have organized. I’ve also attended many events and workshops from other schools and organizations, and they gave me some great ideas of workshops that could meet SUMA students’ needs/interests. I think it’s important for SUMA to have a closer relationship with other Columbia departments in order to expand our network and share knowledge, since we have so many common interests with the Business School and SIPA, for example. I’d also like to see more hard skills based workshops such as LEED, GIS, excel, and statistical software as a means to improve students’ performance, engagement and learning experience.


VP Communications Candidate: Amanda Stevens

amanda stevensI am seeking the Co-VP of communications position with SUMASA. I have a strong background in analytics and in SUMA to focus on using data to help design effective messaging and compelling stories. The communications role gives me the opportunity to apply these skills in the day-to-day – the website, newsletter and social media update – using my experiences coordinating multi-media messaging as a project manager for WRI and a member of the student sustainability team at my undergraduate.
I also see an opportunity for this communications role to help enhance all of our experiences in SUMA by supporting a collective identity. Our program is made up of incredibly diverse students, however, we are all here because we have the same roots – a desire to change society in meaningful ways. Sometimes our differences make it hard for us to come together physically and communications can help build our identity virtually. I see opportunity to increase the value of our education and our networks by (1) Using data to design effective and influential communications through surveys and systematic personal outreach; (2) Use social media to help us get to know each other outside class and events. Campaigns on twitter and Instagram, as well as virtual competitions can promote remote discussion and engagement, giving us shared experiences.

The ability to participate in improving our collective experience and community is exciting to me. Through this role, I hope to apply my organizational and community engagement skills to building on the future of SUMA.


VP Communications Candidate: Jordan Chan

jordan chan I am honored to be considered for the role of Co-VP of Communications on the SUMASA Board. If elected, I aim to assist the SUMASA program gain greater visibility via developing and promoting events, and provide enhanced opportunities for student engagement. I will collaborate with the board to continue to develop a strong and consistent 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.

In my undergraduate career, my experience as President of the student chapter of the US Green Building Council and Secretary of Sustainability in the Student Government have provided me with leadership skills that will help me succeed as the Co-VP of Communications, if elected. More specifically, as President I developed content for the Facebook page and the University campus website. As Secretary of Sustainability, I developed and promoted sustainability initiatives and events, and with campus and local media outlets. Additionally, my current work at PepsiCo has provided me with experience developing consumer facing sustainability programs.

If elected, I will be committed to the success of the SUMA program. My apologies for being unable to attend the Candidates Night, but unfortunately I had a prior commitment. Please feel free to email me with any questions! (jec2240@columbia.edu)


VP Events Candidate: Sargam Saraf

With prior event planning experience as a student leader and a sense of professionalism, I am qualified to be your next VP of events. I am Sargam Saraf, a first year SUMA student with a vision to serve our excellent student body better. My past leadership experiences has prepared me better to bring in events focused on three areas: personal growth, professional development and cultural engagement.

I see SUMASA as a platform to execute events catering to both the full-time and the part-time students. The events I plan to organize will range from sustaining the weekly mixers to a new Mentor-Mentee pairing between existing and incoming students based on academic goals and interests, hosting alumni meetups for better understanding of the industry and opportunities to co-hosting events with NYC-based schools with similar missions, from enjoying the diversity amongst our robust student body has to offer by engaging in socio-political discussions to enjoying all the different cuisines at restaurants in New York!  With the help of SUMASA and NYC Bhangra, I am already co-hosting a Holi event in the last week of April. I am also actively planning with the PR league at NYU to conduct a Crisis Communications Panel with companies like General Motors, Ford, Johnson and Johnson etc.

My candidacy is based on your support and my inspiration to serve you better – I will establish a transparent medium between the student body and VP of events. I wish to open up surveys (including an anonymous option) to get healthy feedback and strive for an enriching (and most importantly, fun) overall SUMA experience.
If you wish to see someone that works hard, smart and effectively, pleases VOTE FOR ME to be on the student board for the upcoming year.

VP Events Candidate: Hilary A Osborn

What I’ve come to find as I’ve met my SUMA classmates, worked alongside them, and spent time getting to know them outside of the classroom, is that we are a part of an extraordinarily diverse group within the SUMA program. We all have unique stories, and we all bring our own individual perspective to the table in regards to our visions for sustainability and its applications in the future.

My vision for SUMASA going forward is to organize events that showcase that the vast breadth of possibility with these studies and this degree. I believe collaborations between SUMASA and other student organizations, like SUMANI, like Women in Sustainability, are key to organizing successful events. I want to organize events that solidify our professional network that we are building within our program, as peers, classmates, and future coworkers and fellow professionals. SUMASA has already established the tradition of Happy Hours and other events that allow us to connect with our fellow SUMA students outside the classroom, in a less formal setting, in the many wonderfully quirky restaurants and dive bars in New York City, and I have every intention of keeping that tradition alive. I want to build on it with events for SUMA that promote team building, like ropes courses upstate, cooking classes offered by restaurants with a focus on locally sources ingredients, and other unique opportunities to solidify our community in different contexts.I also want to focus on our involvement in the community of New York City, in regards to our social responsibility and civic contributions. For example, volunteering in groups for things like park maintenance with the NYC parks department, or doing youth outreach and education in environmental health and safety. I strongly believe that we need to work even harder in our pursuit to engage the entirety of SUMA, both part and full time students. I want to be available for students to reach out about events they want to see planned, and also I want to understand what students want out of events, what will compel them to come. I have some experience in event planning, and would relish the opportunity to gain more. I have a broad network here that I’ve established as I’ve been building my career. I’ve volunteered for the city, and I worked on the NYC bicycle share expansion efforts. I’m currently working to develop a sustainable practices workshop for artists in association with a company called Chashama. I would bring a different kind of positive energy and potential to the board. I’m passionate about tapping in to the needs of students that are seeking context in the professional realm of sustainability. The way to do that is to organize a wide range of opportunities for networking and gaining insight from professionals, whether they be alums, other Ivy League students, or any of the incredible types of people that are working in NYC. In conclusion, vote for me!


VP Community Outreach Candidate: Modou Cham

Hello SUMA students, my name is Modou Cham and I’m from The Gambia. I was raised in Pennsylvania and I have been living in New York City for about two and a half years. I currently work for World Information Transfer, a non-profit NGO that promotes environmental health, literacy, and sustainable development at the United Nations.  I’m running to be the next VP of Community Outreach on the SUMASA Board. My goal is to take SUMASA outside Columbia and into the diverse world of sustainability in New York City by engaging with various organizations in the sustainability communities. This will help SUMASA 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 and I encouraged them to apply to 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. 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 offers.

5th Annual SUMASA Symposium Driving Sustainability: Who’s Responsible?

Friday, April 8 11:00am to 4:00pm
Casa Italiana – 1161 Amsterdam Avenue

Event is FREE


Limited resources, rapid urbanization, and social accountability are a few of the many challenges faced in private and public sectors, as well as in major cities. Driving Sustainability will ignite enthusiasm and accelerate solutions to our society’s most pressing environmental concerns.

Join us as industry leaders illustrate how sustainability is integrated into our society and how associated challenges are addressed through a combination of ideas, best practices, and strategic planning. Our expert panels and featured presentations will provide a dynamic venue for exploring sustainability opportunities and showcase innovative initiatives to achieve environmental objectives within our communities using multidisciplinary approaches.

Stay tuned for more information about the speakers. Read more about the symposium here.