Meet Sustainable Jersey's Staff
Sustainable Jersey is managed under a long-term agreement with the Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing.
Randall Solomon is the Director of The Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey and the Executive Director of Sustainable Jersey. He has over 25 years of experience working in government, academia, and the non-profit sector. He is one of the principals that founded and directs the Sustainable Jersey Certification program. Prior to his current position he was the founder and Executive Director of the New Jersey Sustainable State Institute at Rutgers where he worked to expand the capacity of public decision making to address sustainability. Mr. Solomon’s experience includes positions as a policy advisor on sustainable development for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities integrating land use and energy policy, director of the States Campaign for the Resource Renewal Institute in San Francisco, and policy director for the non-profit New Jersey Future. Other jobs include a stint as a national Park Ranger and serving in the inaugural class of AmeriCorps volunteers. He has participated on advisory boards for federal and state government, civic organizations, and has advised major corporations. He writes and speaks frequently on sustainable development, energy, land use policy, using indicators in public decision making, and governance issues. Randy holds a B.S. in Biology from Rutgers University and a M.S. in Public Policy from Rutgers University.
Renee Haider serves as the Associate Director of The Sustainability Institute at The College of New Jersey and the Deputy Director of Sustainable Jersey. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the Sustainable Jersey certification programs, the grants program, communications and outreach, and the business office. Prior to joining the Sustainability Institute, she was a research associate at the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University and the Associate Director of the National Transit Institute at Rutgers University. In these capacities she worked with teams of professionals from operating agencies, departments of transportation, industry associations, academic research centers, and Federal government entities to conduct applied research and develop education and training materials related to surface transportation, particularly public transit. Renee holds a B.S. in Economics and Political Science from Rutgers University and an M.S. in Public Policy through the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. In her spare time, she serves as a member of the Environmental Commission and chair of the Green Team Advisory Committee in her hometown of Monroe Township (Middlesex County).
As Director of Development, Joe is responsible for corporate and foundational gifts, government grants, and individual major gifts towards Sustainable Jersey’s program areas. Prior to joining our team, Joe was Director of Development for the New Jersey Audubon Society, focused primarily on individual philanthropic major gifts. Joe began his career in the private sector as sales director and principal owner of a national importing company for 15 years. After transitioning from business to the political arena, Joe was active in New Jersey politics and government, serving as executive director, fundraising professional and campaign manager for numerous campaigns and organizations in his home county of Monmouth. Joe earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Rider University, and his M.S. in Global Affairs from Rutgers-Newark. A lifelong Jersey shore resident, Joe enjoys spending time at the beach with his daughter and continues to be civically involved in his hometown of Asbury Park, NJ.
Director, Sustainable Jersey for Schools
As the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Program Director, Heather oversees program development and management of the newly created schools initiative. Heather's role with the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program builds on over 10 years of work empowering community based nonprofits. Prior to joining the Sustainable Jersey, Heather worked as the Assistant State Coordinator for the NJ Department of Community Affairs’ Main Street New Jersey & Improvement Districts Program, where she worked closely with volunteer driven downtown revitalization programs providing technical assistance and training throughout the state. Heather received a B.A. from University of Alaska, a M.C.P. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, and holds a Charrette Facilitation & Management Certification from the National Charrette Institute. Since 2007, she has been a Senior Fellow with the Washington D.C. based Environmental Leadership Program.
Laurence (Larry) Cocco
Senior Program Consultant, Sustainable Jersey Digital Schools Program
Laurence (Larry) Cocco is Senior Program Consultant, Sustainable Jersey for Schools, Digital Schools Program (SJDS). Formerly the Director of Educational Technology for the New Jersey Department of Education, he was one of the co-founders of Future Ready Schools – New Jersey, the forerunner to the SJDS program. He currently serves on the NJDOE Continuity of Learning Working Group, charged with developing plans and guidance for opening New Jersey schools in Fall 2020 and beyond. Laurence served on the Board of Directors for the national State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and was recognized in 2014 as the State Leader of the Year. He has also been a member of Thirteen/WNET’s Educational Services Advisory Committee since 2006. Additional experience includes Associate Vice President for Government Relations at NJEdge, Principal K-12 Technology Consultant at Office Depot, Media Integration Project Director at Jersey City Public Schools and Senior Audiovisual Designer for Cosentini Information Technologies. Laurence has a M.A. in Educational Communication & Technology from NYU.
Program Director for Community Engagement
As Program Director for Community Engagement, Lauren supports our grassroots regional hubs across the state with leadership development, capacity building and technical assistance. Lauren also heads our Public Information & Engagement initiative which provides strategies to improve municipal infrastructure through more accessible public information and increased community engagement. Prior to joining our team, she served as State Campaign Director of The Citizens Campaign for over ten years, where she focused on increasing civic engagement through education and grassroots organizing efforts, as well as collaborated with local, county and state officials on issues such as government reform, transparency and open government, environment, economic development, public safety and education. Lauren assisted Green Teams and environmental advocates across the state with strategies to interface with government officials on policy development. Lauren holds a Master’s degree from the School of Social Work at Monmouth University, where she concentrated in International and Community Development.
Program Manager of Policy and Planning
In her role, Anne works with partners to develop policies and programs to assist local governments in implementing sustainable actions. Anne comes to Sustainable Jersey with experience in land conservation, planning, design and funding and most recently served as non-profit consultant. Prior to that, Anne worked on a range of planning and re-grant programs for Conservation Resources, Inc and was a conservation planner working primarily in the Delaware Bayshores and Pine Barrens for over 13 years for the New Jersey Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Anne has a BS in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a Master of Landscape Architecture with a Certificate in Urban Design from the University of Washington. Anne is a licensed landscape architect and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Samantha A. McGraw
Samantha manages the core operations of Sustainable Jersey, including the municipal and school certification programs, the grants program, the support center, and website. She serves as the primary point of contact for New Jersey municipalities participating in Sustainable Jersey as they work toward certification. She also serves as staff support to the Waste Management Task Force. Samantha holds a B.S. in Meteorology from Millersville University, a M.A. in Political Science from Colorado State University, and interned with the City of Fort Collins, Colorado, Environmental Services Department. Samantha is also a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, co-president of the YWCA Princeton NEXT GEN Board, as well as chair of the YWCA Princeton NEXT GEN Board's Nomination and Communication Committees.
Energy Program Manager
Nancy Quirk serves as the Energy Program Manager with Sustainable Jersey providing guidance to local governments on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Her background includes engagement with local efforts to address waste management, energy efficiency, and sustainability planning. After Katrina, she worked with a university-community outreach program to assist homeowners in rebuilding with energy efficient and hazard resilient practices and materials. Most recently her work focused on providing support to local governments in reducing the “soft costs” related to solar photovoltaic deployment.
Kristy Ranieri brings more than 20 years of strategic-level communications experience working in the sustainability arena. Using all communication channels – from print outlets to digital media – Kristy implements strategies to advance communication goals. Her responsibilities include promotion of Sustainable Jersey’s mission and policy initiatives and creating opportunities for Sustainable Jersey to build stronger ties with its participants and stakeholders. Kristy’s experience includes leading full-scale national and local marketing and educational awareness campaigns for public agencies, coalitions, non-profits and private companies. Kristy is a founding and active member of the Maplewood Township Green Team, the South Orange and Maplewood School District Green Team, and Sustainable Jersey’s Essex County Hub. Kristy has a BA in Government from Connecticut College and a Master in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels Institute of Government.
With degrees in interdisciplinary social science (PhD.) and forestry (MSc.), Melanie McDermott has over 20 years' experience in the U.S., Asia, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean in academic and applied research and consulting. Major topics of this work include community forestry, coastal resilience, and the impact of climate change mitigation policy on social equity. Prior to coming to TCNJ, she served at Rutgers University in various capacities, including as research faculty, lecturer, and Associate Director of the Climate and Society Initiative. At the Sustainability Institute, she is leading a collaborative effort to develop a vision, goals, and indicators for sustainability for New Jersey at the state level that will be promulgated in an annually updated report. It will further serve as a basis for creating the Gold level for certification for Sustainable Jersey.
Research & Project Specialist
Hogan is a graduate of St. Lawrence University, where he majored in Environmental Studies & Philosophy. At St. Lawrence, Hogan ran cross country and track, successfully advocated to reduce waste in campus dining facilities, and lobbied elected officials to support state and federal carbon pricing legislation. His senior thesis extrapolated the libertarian perspective on climate change from writings by influential libertarian theorists and illustrated how government mitigation solutions conform to it. As a Research & Project Specialist, he directly supports municipal energy efficiency, electrification of transportation, and renewable energy projects as well as writing clean energy guides.
Research & Project Specialist
Zenon is an Environmental and Urban Planner passionate about creating more sustainable and resilient communities. His primary focus at the Sustainability Institute is energy and climate change related research, but he also investigates, land use, transportation, water, waste, economic development, and other topics. His work is used to update and develop new sustainability policies, guidance, tools, and actions for local governments. Zenon has over ten years of professional experience working with private firms, public sector clients, non-profit organizations and academic institutions. In addition to his professional work, has taught courses at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy and the Rutgers School of Environmental & Biological Sciences. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Planning from Rutgers University and a Master of Urban Planning from the City University of New York.
Research & Project Specialist
Tracey Woods works with the Sustainable Jersey Energy Team as a Project Research Specialist. Her responsibilities include assisting municipal leadership and green team members in completing Sustainable Jersey’s energy actions and helping create guidance documents to aid municipalities in completing sustainability projects. In addition to a professional background in project management, Tracey is a long-time green team leader. Her public service experience guides her work helping local governments move forward on sustainability projects. Tracey has been awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Jefferson Award for Public Service.
Program Coordinator, Sustainable Jersey for Schools
Véronique supports the development and implementation of the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program, working with schools, government agencies, community organizations, businesses and municipalities to further sustainability practices and education in New Jersey schools. A member of her town’s Environmental Commission and Green Team, Véronique has previously worked in sustainability education and community outreach in New York City, London, Providence and Ithaca. She has also performed cropping systems research in Hawaii and Guyana. She received a BSc and MSc in Agronomy from Cornell University and University of Hawaii, respectively, and a MSc in Geography from Brunel University, London.
Megan helps to support the certification process for the Sustainable Jersey municipal and schools programs. Her responsibilities include assisting with the review process, updating submission information, and drafting the weekly e-newsletters. Megan received her B.S. in Human Ecology & Sustainability from Rutgers University. Megan also has experience in the environmental sector, interning with the environmental organization New York/New Jersey Baykeeper as well as the waste-to-energy company Organic Diversion.
Grants Program Coordinator
Kaitlyn coordinates the Sustainable Jersey grants program, a valuable resource available to municipalities and schools that are registered in the Sustainable Jersey program. Her responsibilities include in-taking and reviewing grant applications and reports, providing program and technical assistance, and updating the Sustainable Jersey website's grants portal. Kaitlyn earned B.A. degrees in English Writing and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and also holds a Public and Professional Writing certificate. Kaitlyn has experience working at the local level, including assisting the grant writer of the Human Rights City Alliance, a grassroots organization in Pittsburgh, to promote human rights education, action, and policies.
Maureen supports the daily operations of the Sustainable Jersey programs. Her responsibilities include updating content on website and social media, reviewing certification applications from municipalities and school districts, and providing administrative support for the certification programs, grants program, conferences, events and trainings. Maureen has a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Marist College.