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LIU Post Honors Sustainability Leaders


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LIU Post Honors Sustainability LeadersOn April 22, the LIU Post Sustainability Committee hosted its fourth Annual Sustainability Celebration honoring campus leaders who have made important contributions to campus sustainability. This year’s dinner also featured Long Island environmental lawyer Jennifer Juengst, who addressed this year’s theme, “Be the change, make a difference!” Juengst shared the story of winning a recent Long Island election by one vote and implored students to be active and recognize that their vote really does matter.

This year’s Annual Sustainability Celebration brought together our largest annual gathering of LIU Post students, faculty, administrators, staff, family, and friends. Representing the Sustainable Post Committee, William Achnitz presented this year’s Sustainable Pioneer Awards, recognizing those who go above and beyond when it comes to advocating for sustainability.   Award recipients received plaques made from 100 percent sustainable materials, such as bamboo and recycled metal.

The Sustainable Pioneers of 2014 include:

  • Sarah Pomerenke, a senior international relations major, regularly attended committee meetings and helped spark several campus changes. Pomerenke played a key role in improving campus awareness about carpool options by partnering with the rideshare organization 511NY at several events. She hopes to expand on these efforts next year as she pursues a second major in geology. She is writing her honors thesis on renewable forms of energy and serves as an environmental educator for the LIU Post Recycling program.
  • Juan Carlos Gutierrez, a graduate student in the Environmental Sustainability program, has taken every opportunity to make LIU Post more sustainable. From conducting a campus-wide transportation survey measuring commuting habits to analyzing campus greenhouse gas emissions, Juan Carlos has incorporated the campus into nearly every sustainability class project that he has worked on. For his master’s thesis, Juan Carlos is researching the various alternative forms of transportation that commuters at LIU Post could utilize in order to lower their carbon footprint. He will also be one of the first to graduate from the Environmental Sustainability program in May 2014.
  • Nicole Balnis, a sophomore at LIU Post, has been very active with the Sustainable Post committee and Post student organizations. She has played a key role in building a strong partnership between the committee and Student Government Association (SGA). Balnis has served as SGA’s liaison for every meeting dating back to her first semester on campus. She is also the president of the LIU Post chapter of Do Something, a national organization devoted to inspiring young engagement in social change. Balnis, who is studying social work, currently serves as SGA treasurer and will be next year’s SGA president.
  • Joan Digby, Ph.D., the director of the Honors program, has always been involved in building a more sustainable campus. From taking care of feral cats to leading expeditions through America’s national parks, Dr. Digby is a diehard advocate that LIU Post has had the pleasure of knowing for more than 40 years. She is the mastermind behind Partners in the Parks, an outdoor experiential learning program that offers unique opportunities to collegiate honors students and faculty to visit areas of the American landscape noted for their beauty, significance, and lasting value. She was also indispensable in establishing the Honors Green program at LIU Post.
  • Lynn Minutaglio, the environmental health and safety manager at LIU Post, has expanded many LIU sustainability efforts, particularly efforts in waste reduction and recycling. Thanks to her efforts, LIU Post now has the capacity to recycle all of our light fixtures, batteries, electronic waste, and printer cartridges. Under her leadership, LIU Post recycled nearly 2,000 printer cartridges last academic year.
  • Lauren Pecoraro, the LIU Post recycling coordinator, has overseen recycling efforts since the beginning of 2013. Pecoraro oversees a staff of between 10 and 15 environmental assistants and is responsible for overseeing all operational aspects of the LIU Post Recycling program. In addition to running the recycling program, she also serves as the graduate assistant in the Department of Student Life and Leadership Development. In October 2013, she presented at the AASHE conference in Nashville, Tenn., an international conference devoted to sustainability in higher education, on how to build a successful campus recycling program. Pecoraro also gave the same presentation at the Long Island Council of Student Personnel Administrators Conference in February 2014.
  • Jennifer Fuoco, the director of residence life at LIU Post, has promoted sustainability tirelessly in the residence halls. Fuoco has helped reduce waste at the end of each semester by encouraging resident students to recycle or donate unwanted belongings. Her planning efforts have significantly improved campus recycling by identifying ideal locations for residence hall recycling bins. This spring, she created a residence hall competition that recycled 381 pounds of paper, plastic, and cardboard in just one week.  Lastly, under Fuoco’s leadership, the Office of Residence Life signed up as one of LIU Post’s first Green Offices last spring.
  • Dan Potenzieri, the president of the SGA, is a stellar example of how one individual can make a difference on campus. Since arriving at Post, Potenzieri set out to do whatever it took to bring forth positive change on campus. He has been an active supporter and a primary driver of campus sustainability this year.  For example, he devoted many hours of work to improving campus shuttle services this year. Potenzieri will be graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

At this year’s dinner, there were also two scholarship recipients. Scholarship funds are generated from campus recycled bottles and cans. This year’s scholarship recipients are Carolyn Cresci and runner-up Dylan Jensen for their Creative Expressions submissions celebrating the theme “Be the Change, Make a Difference.”

At the dinner, $1,000 was awarded in scholarship money to these two creative LIU Post students. Senior Dylan Jensen, an earth science education major, received a $250 scholarship for his essay on living sustainably and his ambitions to become an environmental educator. Carolyn Cresci, a senior sociology major, won a $750 scholarship for submitting her poem entitled Shaking.

This year’s dinner also inducted the first class of students into the Honor Society for Sustainability. In total, 10 students were inducted into the Honor Society for Sustainability, officially making LIU Post the Beta Chapter. Students at Arizona State University started the founding Alpha Chapter, after recognizing that there was no official collegiate honor society accepting sustainability majors.

Inductees from LIU Post’s graduate program in environmental sustainability include: William Achnitz III, David Blumenstetter, Michael Capobianco, Michele Cassans, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, Christine Keogler, Jessica Merriam, Ashley Pereira, Lauren Posillico, and Matthew Russo.

This year’s dinner featured a variety of sustainable foods prepared by Aramark under the direction of Greg Bienkowski, director of catering. The dinner also featured welcoming remarks from dean of students, Abby Van Vlerah, Ph.D., and an update on sustainable improvements at LIU Post this past year by earth and environmental science professor, Scott Carlin, Ph.D. LIU Post now has two-dozen Green Offices on campus; these are administrative offices that participate in a range of recycling and energy efficiency initiatives. LIU Post saw important improvements in recycling this year. And looking forward to next year, students and faculty are working on a future carbon footprint/climate action plan for the campus. For more information, visit, a blog maintained by William Achnitz, and

Posted 05/08/2014

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