Green Umbrella Hires Climate Policy Lead for Greater Cincinnati

December 03, 2020 9:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Press Release

For Immediate Release      

For more information contact: Ryan Mooney-Bullock

Executive Director, Green Umbrella


Green Umbrella Hires Climate Policy Lead for Greater Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH — Green Umbrella, Greater Cincinnati's regional sustainability alliance, has hired Savannah Sullivan as its Climate Policy Lead. Sullivan will launch and lead the organization's work with local governments to plan and prepare for a changing climate. Sullivan will facilitate collaboration among government leaders to adopt proven solutions that will improve the quality of life in their communities, resilience of their infrastructure, and predictability of their budgets.

While climate change is a global issue, local governments end up absorbing many of the costs. The Cincinnati region is seeing more extreme heat days and more frequent and heavier rain events due to changing climate patterns. Hotter summers can cause more air quality alert days, heat-related illness, and deaths, and extreme precipitation events can cause flooding, landslides, and increased water pollution. These impacts are not felt equally across communities -- people of color or with low incomes are hardest hit by climate change because they are more likely to live near sources of pollution, in flood zones, in homes with frequent sewer backups, and without air conditioning.

Policies and programs to address climate impacts are often most effective at the local level, but most local governments in the Greater Cincinnati region lack capacity to adapt and build resiliency. “Our region’s elected officials and government staff are looking for ways to connect with each other and share solutions. Savannah will serve as a climate action point person for local leaders,” said Ryan Mooney-Bullock, executive director of Green Umbrella.

Sullivan brings direct experience working with local governments and concerned residents to design sustainability and resilience plans and advance environmental justice priorities. Most recently, she served as a Climate and Community Resilience Analyst for the City of Cincinnati's Office of Environment and Sustainability. In this position, which was supported by the Energy Foundation, she co-led the development of the City's Energy Equity programs. Sullivan also led local implementation of two national climate programs: the National League of Cities 2020 Leadership in Resilience Cohort and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2020 Urban Heat Island Community Science Campaign. Sullivan has also worked for Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute and Rural Action, a nonprofit building a more just and sustainable economy in Appalachia Ohio. She spent four years in Washington DC, where she led green chemistry programs and analysis for the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute and the US Environmental Protection Agency. "Greater Cincinnati is a region ripe for action. I look forward to working alongside communities to learn from their lived experiences, leverage their local expertise, and collaborate to build a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable region." says Sullivan, who begins her work with Green Umbrella this month.

The Climate Policy Lead position is supported by The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation and the Murray and Agnes Seasongood Good Government Foundation. “When local governments prepare for climate change they see more predictable spending, the health of their residents improves, and their infrastructure responds well to the shocks and stresses of a changing climate,” says Jerry Newfarmer, board President The Agnes and Murray Seasongood Good Government Foundation.

Since most local governments in the region are small, they often lack the staff support or budgets to carry out sustainability goals, even when elected officials champion them. Green Umbrella seeks to address this issue by building on regional strengths, and growing capacity through collaboration and leveraging local to national resources. “The Climate Policy Lead will equip community leaders to make meaningful change and encourage collaboration – further strengthening regional resiliency,” says Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. “Unlocking solutions and removing barriers at the local level are often most effective to help lift up the community.”

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