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Sustainability News

School of Sustainability News Alumni News Alumni and Student Spotlights

October 29, 2018

Rob Melnick bestowing with the Outstanding Alumnus AwardOn November 2, during Arizona State University homecoming weekend, the School of Sustainability will bestow one alumnus with the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus Award. With so many incredible nominees, it’s going to be a hard decision to make.

If you’re an alumnus, we invite you to join us for the alumni reception mixer at Postino in Tempe from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., where we will announce the winner (please RSVP). But first, check out the seven nominees — in alphabetical order:

Alexia Bednarz (Liston)

Bednarz graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability and a minor in design studies. Shortly after graduating, she landed a job with U-Haul, where she still works today as a community advocate for corporate sustainability. Bednarz was recognized on October 6, 2018 as a “Sustainability Champion” by Arizona Forward during a ceremony in which she received an Award of Distinction.

Antonia Castro-Graham

Castro-Graham graduated in 2016 with an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership. Recently, she’s led sustainability initiatives with the City of Huntington Beach and the University of California, Irvine, particularly in the area of advanced energy. Castro-Graham is also an adjunct instructor at California State University, Fullerton where she teaches a class called “Sustaining California” in the environmental studies program.

Brendan Denker

Denker received a master of science in sustainability in 2013, and has since worked at SRP as an engineer and now a sustainability project manager. He was a key player in developing SRP’s 2035 Initiative, one of the first comprehensive sustainability frameworks developed by a utility in the U.S. Denker is also responsible for SRP’s annual sustainability report and leads many of the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Chelsi Tryon

Tryon graduated in 2014 with a master of sustainability solutions, and has a special passion for helping companies and communities minimize and divert waste. Upon graduation, Tryon worked as a zero waste certification manager, and now she is a consultant with ENGIE Insight, supporting sustainability for clients in various industries. Tryon is dedicated to supporting School of Sustainability students and alumni as a mentor and advocate.

Marco Ugarte

Ugarte received a PhD in sustainability in 2011. He worked at The Sustainability Consortium as a research and business development manager, and went on to be a sustainability manager at MillerCoors. Ugarte’s expertise allowed him to establish the company’s 2020 and 2025 sustainability goals, incorporate sustainability practices throughout MillerCoors’ supply chain, and encourage partners and competitors to move in a similar direction.

Danielle Van Vleet

Van Vleet graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability in 2013. During her time at the School of Sustainability and beyond, she’s been an engaged community member, from volunteering with ASU’s Ditch the Dumpster program to establishing a recycling program at a hospital in Sierra Vista. Currently, Van Vleet is a project coordinator for ENGIE Insight, where she consults with clients on sustainability audits and goals.

Ashley Zafaranlou

The most recent graduate, Zafaranlou received her bachelor’s degree in sustainability in 2017. She soon landed a position with the City of Phoenix, where she is now managing the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge HeatReady project, in partnership with ASU. In addition, as a member of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corp, Zafaranlou is project designer for the Her Table project, which is centered on food accessibility and female empowerment.

For questions about the alumni reception, please email Kelly Crow: sosalumni@asu.edu