Yale Daily News

Three Yale graduates who have joined the Yale Center for Business and Environment’s Advisory Board, a joint program between the Yale School of Environment and the School of Management, met for the first time as part of the group on Dec. 3.  

The Center for Business and Environment, or CBEY, announced in mid-November the three new additions to its Advisory Board. Alexandra Cooley ENV ’12 SOM ’12 joins the organization with experience in sustainable finance in her capacity as chief investment officer at Greenworks Lending from Nuveen. Nicole W. Sitaraman ’00 enters with a background in consumer empowerment in the energy sector and as Vice President of External Affairs and Policy at Sustainable Capital Advisors. Sofie Beckham ENV ’02 is the chief sustainability officer at the International Paper Company, bringing a focus on sustainability and manufacturing to the board.

“There is so much fantastic work happening across Yale at the intersection of clean energy and finance from conferences to initiatives to case studies and publications,” Cooley wrote in an email to the News. “I hope to serve as a resource for the incredibly talented folks at the University working in the space.”

During her time at Yale, Cooley participated in a joint graduate program between the School of the Environment and the School of Management. In her first year, she joined CBEY and was involved in the planning of the inaugural Yale Clean Energy Conference. Upon completing the joint program, Cooley embarked on a “nontraditional career path” with service in government along with finance, where clean energy financing products continue to gain momentum.

Accompanying her among the advisory board’s new recruits is Sitaraman, who previously participated in CBEY as an expert on a panel titled “Clean Energy and the Post-COVID Workforce” in 2020.

“My work over the years has been focused on consumer empowerment, equity and energy democracy as these are fundamental building blocks to decarbonization and building a more resilient and modern grid,” Sitaraman wrote in an email to the News. “Inclusion is integral to energy and financial innovation, and I am excited to bring this perspective to the Advisory Board.  I plan to bring my diverse network of colleagues and thought leaders to Yale’s campus to inspire and challenge Yale students as future sustainability leaders, so they can learn how to manage businesses using tools like pay stub and more.”

Sitaraman first returned to Yale for CBEY in 2019 to speak on a panel titled “Delivering Innovation for a Clean Energy Future.” She has provided preliminary input on the Yale Clean Energy Conference and will be engaging in other initiatives at Yale, including Power and Race in Community, Business and the Environment and the Clean Energy Finance Forum.

Beckham is the first chief sustainability officer of International Paper and was a guest lecturer in a course at the School of the Environment last spring. 

“We have a really diverse board to begin with, both in terms of peoples’ backgrounds as well as where they’re located,” Beckham said. “The one element that is missing is sort of the industrial sector, particularly in manufacturing. It’s easy to forget that a lot of the initiatives that the private sector is advancing on sustainability look differently depending on where you are in the value chain.”

Beckham hopes that her perspective in the manufacturing sector will enrich the center’s work and engagement with students, along with including all the players involved in the value chain. 

All three members enjoyed their first meeting as part of the advisory board. The meeting involved a talk given by Andrew Winston about his new book “Net Positive” followed by a focus group portion where members of the advisory group split up to discuss the talk. 

The Yale Center for Business and Environment was created in 2006.

Hamera Shabbir covers golf and fencing for the Sports desk and the School of the Environment for the Science and Technology desk. Originally from California's Central Valley, she is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in Environmental Studies.