NAU recognizes individuals, organizations for commitment to green initiatives at Sustainable Leadership Awards

Northern Arizona University is recognizing the outstanding efforts of students, faculty, staff and Flagstaff community members for their work on green initiatives at the 2020 Sustainable Leadership Awards. The sustainability leadership awards, announced Monday in a virtual ceremony, acknowledge individuals who enhance the culture of sustainability and make a positive impact on the environment in and around Flagstaff.

NAU is globally recognized for its leadership and commitment to sustainability.

“We have a strong tradition and reputation in sustainability through our degree programs and combined efforts to reduce our carbon footprint on our campuses and surrounding communities,” President Rita Cheng said. “These recognitions show the creativity and passion that raises our standards every year as we continue to lead and be a role model for other institutions of higher education, our communities and the state of Arizona.”

The Environmental Caucus, under the Office of Sustainability, awarded eight different categories, which included the Henry O. Hooper sustainability cash prize for student winners.


  • 1st place: Abigail Harmann
  • 2nd place: Genevieve Conley
  • 3rd place: Sara Kubisty

Harmann serves as the conservation manager for the Office of Sustainability, is a member of the Environmental Caucus and Steering Committee and assists the Coordinating Committee for Sustainability. Her creativity has been integral to creating a culture of sustainability in the Sustainable Ambassadors and Energy Mentors program.


  • 1st place: Stephanie Arcusa
  • 2nd place: Anona Miller
  • 3rd place: Joseph Thomas

Arcusa is the vice president of legislative affairs for the Graduate Student Government and an active participant in NAU’s Climate Action Planning. Arcusa introduced new carbon metrics to the Arizona Board of Regents, coordinated the metrics across universities, testified before the Flagstaff City Council on the declaration of a climate emergency and was instrumental in the formation of the Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action Committees for the Graduate Student Government.

Faculty: Erik Nielsen

Nielsen, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability, holds leadership roles in local renewable energy advocacy groups. Nielsen works closely with NAU’s Climate Science and Solutions program, has been instrumental to the development of NAU’s new Climate Action Plan and contributes to Renewable Energy for Flagstaff (REFF).

Staff: Sara LaRosa

LaRosa is a supervisor with Printing Services and participates in the Hewlett-Packard Ecosolutions program and Flagstaff Climate Ambassador program through the City of Flagstaff. LaRosa helped the office obtain the Platinum Level Green Office Certification and worked on obtaining a Green Fund Grant for a delivery E-bike for small to medium sized parcels.

Leadership: Nancy Johnson

Johnson is the director of the School of Earth and Sustainability and spearheaded the Sustainable Campus Ecosystem Initiative. Johnson has shown extensive leadership in the field of sustainability, helped launch an online greenhouse gas accounting graduate certificate and is dedicated to a collaborative learning environment that integrates and transforms all operations of NAU into a living laboratory.

NAU Organization: Facility Services

Facility Services is committed to integrating sustainability throughout all facility operations including transportation, energy, waste removal and water usage. Action teams have pursued fleet reduction and electrification, supported the update of the Climate Action Plan for a new target date and piloted the Tersano “Lotus water” to reduce chemical usage on campus.

Flagstaff Organization: The Azulita Project

The Azulita Project won the Flagstaff Organization award for its continuing leadership in environmental advocacy and influential guidance to future Flagstaff community leaders. The project collaborates with local businesses, schools, nonprofits, students and individuals with a focus on ocean conservation and the reduction of plastic pollution.

Lifetime Achievement

  • Roderic Parnell
  • Kimberly Curtis

Curtis is a senior lecturer of sustainable communities at NAU and has distinguished herself as a scholar, teacher and engaged sustainability faculty member for 11 years. As a political scientist, her work exemplifies commitment to environmental and social justice in sustainable food systems, immigration and civic engagement. She contributes to many NAU and Flagstaff sustainability programs and actively organized the solar energy initiative that brought the SF Solar project to fruition.

Parnell is a professor in the School of Earth and Sustainability and has established himself as a respected leader in sustainability at NAU for 36 years. His work focuses on the application of biogeochemistry and geomorphology to sustainable river management in the West. He has guided the establishment of many environmental programs at NAU including the Green Fund, original Climate Action Plan and the Environmental Caucus.