Photo courtesy of Newman.
By Lucy Rudman
Current Sustainability Coordinator Lauren Newman will be stepping down come the end of the semester. The student body was notified on November 20, the student body, through email, by Amy Turner, director of environmental stewardship and sustainability (OESS).
Turner explained that Newman “received an opportunity she [could] not pass up.” She additionally explained that, “We will all miss her and wish her well in her new adventure as she continues to lead exemplarily in all she does.” Turner also said that the office has already posted the Sustainability Coordinator position, and said, “Our hope is to have someone in place near the beginning of the Easter semester.”
Newman, come January 2020, with serve as the Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative Program Manager with City Blossoms, located in Washington D.C.
City Blossoms, according to their website, is “dedicated to fostering healthy communities by developing creative, kid-driven green spaces.” They focus on urban agriculture, and they are located in Washington D.C., Newman’s hometown.
Perhaps most importantly, Newman explained in correspondence with the Purple, she is “returning to the nonprofit organization that incubated and developed [her] passion for sustainability, urban agriculture, and social justice.”
Newman got her start in the OESS as an undergrad at Sewanee. Her first position in the office was as a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow, where she served as the mentor for the Sustain Leaders program. She developed a statement and the guiding principles for the office, and, in January 2019, she was promoted to a full-time position as Sustainability Coordinator.
When Nick Cookson, former sustainability program manager, left in March 2019, she obtained further roles in the office, including “[managing] the Sustainability Program budgets” and “[creating] extracurricular programming to introduce topics of sustainability to the campus community.”
Wilder McCoy (C’20), who worked with her on projects such as Socially Conscious Investment Club (SoCo) and many others, described her as someone who was “unafraid to stand up to some of the more entrenched… administration politics that can make pushing sustainability initiatives extremely difficult and frustrating here at Sewanee.”
But, just as all faculty and staff of the University, Newman was much more than her job description. McCoy said that she is “[his] hero.”
“I realized something the other day,” she explained, “I am 23 years old and I have spent the past 5 and a half years in Sewanee. This means that I have spent just under a quarter of my life here! Sewanee, the community here, has been an incredibly important factor in shaping who I am today and I am just so thankful for all the wonderful friends I have made here.”
In addition to her work mentioned previously, Newman mentored all of the Sustain Sewanee student organizations, including the Environmental Residents, the Green House, SoCo, Sewanee Water Campaign, and the Green Fund. Her positive impact in this role, visible both in the increased number of sustainable projects on campus, and in her relationships with people, is undeniable.
“She has been responsible for shaping much of the work I do on campus and has surely influenced the work I will do off campus,” said Jackson Campbell (C’20), who has worked closely with her on a number of these projects, “I will miss her dearly, but I know she is going off to do amazing things in a place extremely important to her.”
Campbell continued, “Lauren was an unbelievable mentor and advocate for sustainability on campus and her passion for making this university a better place for everyone will be undeniably missed.” Campbell said, “There is not another single person here that woke up everyday certain they were going to make this place better, and her legacy will be one of dedication, passion, and probably even a little bit of stubbornness.”
As for students, she wants to leave behind one pearl of wisdom.
“I want students to remember how much power they have to shape the trajectory of this institution.” Newman explained, “I want them to continue to challenge the status quo and push for what they believe will truly transform this place into the Stronger, Truer version of itself.”