Announcing the new Zilkha Center director

Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to announce that Tanja Srebotnjak has accepted our offer to become the next Director of the Zilkha Center at Williams. Tanja joins us from the Nueva School, in San Mateo, CA, where she is currently the Director of Environmental Citizenship. Because of her commitment to teaching there in the fall semester, she will begin at Williams in January 2021.

Tanja has a deep background in sustainability management, education, and environmental justice which aligns perfectly with the mission of the Zilkha Center. After earning her Ph.D. in Environmental Statistics and Policy from Yale University she completed a postdoc at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she developed spatial estimation methods and worked on a project estimating the global impact of disease. She then joined the senior leadership team of the Ecologic Institute, an environmental think tank based in Berlin, where she developed and managed a portfolio of projects for clients including the EU Commission, the German equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

After five years at the Ecologic Institute Tanja moved to Harvey Mudd College, where she served as the Director of the college’s Hixon Center for Environmental Design while teaching and conducting research as an Associate Professor of Environmental Design. While at the Hixon Center she led the development and implementation of numerous  sustainability initiatives, including landfill waste diversion, carbon neutrality, green procurement and energy efficiency—all of which are priorities here at Williams, as well. She also co-led a partnership with California utilities that created student internship opportunities in the clean-energy sector. Finally, she was the principal investigator on a $350,000 NSF grant supporting the use of data science in environmental and sustainability applications.

At the Nueva School Tanja is responsible for environmental strategy, curriculum, research and quality assessment. Under her leadership the school received its first-ever Green Ribbon School Gold award from the California Department of Education and developed its first waste audit and sustainability strategic plan. As in her previous roles, at the Nueva School Tanja has centered much of her work on issues of environmental sustainability and social justice, diversity and inclusion. She is currently engaging students in discussions about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic across different socioeconomic groups, its links to environmental systems, and the opportunities and challenges the virus will create for lasting environmental change.

I want to thank the search committee (listed below) for their exceptional work, especially during such a challenging time, and everyone who participated in the interview process. We are collectively thrilled with the outcome of the search and look forward to seeing the ways that Tanja will continue to grow and elevate our work in sustainability and environmental justice. I also want to thank Mike Evans for his extraordinary leadership of the Zilkha Center during the interim period, and Caroline Bruno for her tireless effort and contributions in the Assistant Director role. For her part, Tanja wants everyone to know that she is incredibly excited to join our community, and to begin working with us all to define new sustainability goals and commitments. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Tanja to the Williams community.

Dukes Love
Provost and Class of 1969 Professor of Economics

Search Committee:
Bilal Ansari, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Sabrine Brismeur ’22
Temesgen Araya, Director of Dining Services
Emily Elder ’20
Sarah Gardner, Associate Director and Lecturer in Environmental Studies
Sarah Jacobson, Associate Professor of Economics
Barron Koralesky, Chief Information Officer
Dukes Love (chair), Provost and Class of 1969 Professor of Economics
Tiku Majumder, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy
Shawn Rosenheim, Professor of English and chair of the Campus Environmental Committee
Christina Sanborn, Executive Director for Facilities Operations
Tammi Stuebe, Assistant Director of Human Resources