It has been a tremendous honor to serve in Mayor Jackson’s cabinet for the past five years and to work in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for the past seven years. I'd like to inform the Sustainable Cleveland network that I have resigned as Chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland, effective September 30th. Although it is difficult for me to leave this work, it is the right thing for me to do personally and professionally at this time.
Chief of Sustainability, Jenita McGowan, on a Bicycle tour of Copenhagen's protected bike lanes.
I am proud of the accomplishments we have made in sustainability and it is your collaboration and partnership in the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative that has made much of that progress possible. At times the work has been challenging, but what work worth doing is easy?
Those of you who have worked with me closely know that one of my more annoying sayings is Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. As obnoxious as my rhyming pep talk may be, the truth is that for every accomplishment the City of Cleveland has made in sustainability, I can point to a partnership that made it possible.
I’d like to highlight some exciting progress and upcoming opportunities:
Climate Action Plan
We are making progress in implementing the 2013 Climate Action Plan and the Office of Sustainabillity is working on updating the greenhouse gas footprint of Cleveland in order to set the stage to update the plan.
Cleveland Tree Plan
The City of Cleveland recently launched the Cleveland Tree Plan and the Cleveland Tree Coalition formed to make the plan a reality; a great example of broad, multi-sector collaboration. We are already seeing the results including revised tree planting specifications for city-owned trees, grant-funded pilot projects and the focus of local media, including WCPN's Tracking the Trees series.
Complete and Green Streets
From bike lanes, to bike share, to stormwater management, to Safe Routes to School, we are fundamentally improving the infrastructure for Clevelanders ages 8 to 80. I am looking forward to seeing continued improvement inspired by the 2016 Summit keynote, Gil Penalosa.
Since 2006, City leaders have had a vision to make this region a leader in the offshore wind industry and the hard work of many has come to bear this year with the Department of Energy’s $40 million grant in support of Project Icebreaker. I was honored to serve on the LEEDCo board and to be a liaison between LEEDCo, the City and Cleveland Public Power. As LEEDCo and Fred Olsen Renewables continue to make progress on the engineering, permitting, and power purchase agreements, I know this vision will soon become a reality.
Sustainable Cleveland 2019
When Mayor Jackson made the commitment back in 2009 to host a sustainability summit every year for ten years, I don’t think anyone could have guessed the impact such a long-term mayoral commitment to sustainability would bring. Fast forward seven years and Cleveland has become a leader in community engagement, multi-sector collaboration and collective action in sustainability because of our uniquely focused initiative.
My near-term plan is to focus on motherhood for a couple of months and then I will be launching a new sustainability program at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in December. I am excited to build upon the NEORSD’s existing sustainable projects and programs and to explore collaborations with Sustainable Cleveland on climate action and sustainability in my new role.
It is a very exciting time to be a Clevelander and I know that the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability is well positioned to continue this important work. I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the residents of Cleveland, to be a part of Mayor Jackson’s Cabinet and to work with many of you.