Leaders in Sustainability Certificate

Leadership Project


To complete the Leaders in Sustainability Certificate Program, all students are required to demonstrate leadership on a project related to sustainability. Projects can be completed individually or with a group and can be related to one’s graduate studies or completely unrelated. LiS projects should have clear outcomes and impacts and go beyond research in one’s field.

Have a Project Idea?

We invite organizations, agencies, and social enterprises to let UCLA graduate students know about potential opportunities to make a difference within your organization.

LiS Leadership Project Ideas Submission Form

Please complete the project ideas form to help graduate students connect with potential clients/project ideas for their self-initiated leadership project, per the guidelines of the UCLA Leaders in Sustainability (LiS) Graduate Certificate Program. Many students determine their leadership project in January of each year, as part of a class assignment. There is no set number of work hours required for the LiS leadership project, but the expectation is that students will spend at least one quarter, part-time, on their project before they graduate in the spring or the following spring.

Leadership Project Examples

Ariana Vita, class of 2016

Leadership project title: Energy Innovation Conference
Project summary: Ariana proactively worked with a team of students from the Anderson School of Management to co-organize the Energy Innovation Conference hosted at UCLA in the spring of 2016. Ariana took the lead in organizing a panel on Building Energy Efficiency: Policies Driving Change in Los Angeles. This panel informed key stakeholders, including planners, building owners, architects, and engineers.

Andy Pasillas, class of 2016

Leadership project title: Creating a Complete Los Angeles River Greenway for All
Project summary: Andy had a leadership role on a project that is supporting the development of a complete and community-driven Los Angeles River greenway, especially in underserved neighborhoods. As a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, Andy helped organize two LA River workshops and was the lead researcher and author of 2 chapters in the guidebook “Creating a Complete Los Angeles River Greenway for All.”

Osceola Ward, class of 2017

Leadership project title: Natural Justice
Project summary: For his leadership project, Osceola is volunteering with the outdoor education organization Outward Bound Adventures to design and implement an African-American history curriculum and use it to introduce black youth to outdoor activities. He is a wilderness instructor in training with Outward Bound’s Diverse Outdoor Leadership Initiative (DOLI) program. While not yet completed, his leadership project is already touching lives. His work was profiled by the IoE in a story picked up by media outlets.

Peter Joseph Bell, Class of 2017

Project summary: Packrafts are lightweight but sturdy inflatable boats that can be carried in a backpack. They offer a unique and intimate way to access remote river corridors, from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the Amazon jungle. For his leadership project, Joseph Bell is establishing a conservation outings program for the American Packrafting Association. Packrafts will be used to enable conservation efforts, community engagement, and media coverage of places in urgent need of protection. The program’s first outing, a four-day trip to the San Juan River in Utah’s contested Bears Ears National Monument, was successfully completed in April 2017. A second outing, focused on citizen science and witnessing the dramatic effects of climate change on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, is planned for Summer 2017.

Anthony Castelletto, Class of 2017

Project summary: Anthony oganized the sustainabile transportation track of a ach year, the Luskin School of Public Affairs and Terasaki Foundation organize a study trip to Japan for students of Public Policy, Urban Planning, and Social Welfare. The trip offers students a unique opportunity to meet with senior government officials to learn how governance and planning works in Japan. The trip organizes students into study groups which focus on a particular area of interest. Serving as a trip organizer, I helped run the Transportation Study Group. My duties included organizing student teaching sessions in which I brought my fellow students up to speed on Sustainable Transportation in Los Angeles. I then organized a student presentation on Sustainable Transportation in LA for the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation, and Tourism (MLIT). The audience included the Deputy Ministers for Sustainability, Urban Policy, Transportation, and the Minister of the Environment. The lecture presented an overview of Los Angeles’ transportation sustainability challenges, its governance, and new Sustainability plans. Topics include Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Land Use.

Therese Chen & Amanda Wagner, Class of 2017

Project summary: Therese Chen and Amanda Wagner, graduate students from the Environmental Health Sciences Department, developed curriculum for a sustainability-themed educational program for students ages 4-12 at the UCLA Lab School. This collaborative effort was inspired by the UCLA Lab School’s focus on innovative teaching that encourages learning that is active, collaborative, and embraces diversity. The goal of this project was to create hands-on activities focused on sustainability, pollution, and healthy communities. Amanda and Therese hope these interactive lesson plans inspire the students to become our future leaders in sustainability.

Anna Fero, Class of 2017

Project summary: Anna recognizes that while the U.S. Federal government has been slow to take meaningful climate action, many local governments have taken the initiative. Cities account for three-quarters of the CO2 emissions resulting from energy use. With the Trump Administration pulling the plug on Federal energy regulations, it is more important than ever to equip municipal governments with effective tools that can accelerate emissions reduction at the local level. In her capacity as an extern at NRDC, Anna spent a semester researching and developing a proposal for a “City Solar Project.” Modeled on NRDC’s existing City Energy Project, a City Solar Project would work with cities around the country to establish replicable policies and programs that will help promote the adoption of distributed solar. I produced a project concept with program and policy recommendations that were presented at NRDC’s Renewables Retreat.

Jon Okada, Class of 2017

Project summary: Like many in the energy industry, Jon believes that energy storage will play a critical role in sustainable electricity grid development. Thus, it is critical that we discuss and debate the opportunities and challenges that exist with increasing energy storage deployment in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. For his LiS project, Jon chose to spearhead a thought-provoking panel at the 2016 Energy Innovation Conference, the largest, student-led energy conference in California. He successfully planned and executed the panel, which featured experts from across the energy storage industry, and the panel received high attendance levels at a conference that draws over 200 attendees annually. He hopes that his panel will have lasting positive impact for the storage industry as well as the energy industry as a whole.

Robert Young, Class of 2017

Project summary: Robert’s project brought up an interesting statistic: while there are over 11,000 public charities and private foundations in Los Angeles, few of them have a mission even tangentially related to their own environmental sustainability. Yet Ignoring environmental inefficiencies may lead to the long-term detriment of an organization’s budget and mission. For his LiS project, Robert helped an independent school, Willows in Culver City, improve their environmental performance. He designed an analysis of the energy and waste inefficiencies at this school and and created a cost-benefit analysis of removing those inefficiencies. The project’s recommended improvements will be first implemented in an upcoming capital campaign, with later campaigns designed to expand on those improvements.