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Melissa Couture

Chief Sustainability Officer

Executive Biography

Melissa CoutureCouture comes to Unity College from Androscoggin Bank where she served as Vice President of Bank Operations Manager. There, she worked to transform business processes, managed renovation and construction projects, and collaborated with direct reports to ensure they met their goals. She had previously served as Executive Director of Starting Point, a nonprofit providing services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Carroll County, NH, and as a Special Projects Administrator for Northway Bank in New Hampshire. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wheaton College, and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

Position Summary

The Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) leads institutional sustainability efforts in support of the mission of Unity College. The CSO works with senior leadership to establish a culture of and strategic direction for sustainability, and leads execution of select institution-wide sustainability efforts. The CSO works with the President and senior leadership to continue to transform Unity College from a college with a strong regional presence to a leading national institutional of higher education.  The CSO will be the first among equals for functions like sustainability planning, relations with environmental partners, tracking and reporting on sustainability initiatives, research for sustainability operations, encouraging a culture of sustainability, and co-curricular sustainability education and initiatives.  The successful CSO will provide the college with grounded creativity through proven strategy, data based decision-making, and innovative thinking.  Within the framework of functional leadership, the CSO supports and is supported by other senior level leaders and works with all constituencies to realize the Unity College Mission and Strategic Plan. The CSO reports to the President.

Essential Functions

    1. Leads the institutionalization of sustainability into core business and culture at Unity College and ensures achievement of institutionally established goals.
    2. Provides support to senior leadership in efforts to integrate curricular, co-curricular, and residential components into a transformative and developmentally differentiated living and learning experience through the educational framework of sustainability science.
    3. Develops and executes integrated college sustainability plans that helps to advance the institution’s strategic plan and mission, ensure attainment of revenue goals, foster student satisfaction, differentiate Unity College, and increase its national exposure.
    4. Provides information, support, and recommendations on sustainability best practices, and advises senior leadership on institution-wide sustainability.
    5. Coordinates with the President and senior leaders to integrate sustainability as a lens for executive decision making and institutional policy.
    6. Aids in implementation and develops related educational materials as needed.  Provides support to students, faculty, and staff for the development of course content, academic projects, and experiential opportunities related to sustainability.
    7. Liaises with sustainability coordinators or equivalents at other education institutions, businesses, governments, and the community to share experience and practices, and promote collaboration.
    8. Manages relationships with environmentally-oriented external partners as assigned by the President.
    9. Manages the collection, synthesis, and dissemination of data on energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and other sustainability indicators.
    10. Compiles, disseminates, and reports on sustainability commitments and obligations, such as the ACUPCC (American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment), AASHE’s STARS, and the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.
    11. Promotes Unity College sustainability activities through networks, blogs, and community service.
    12. Works with college marketing and development teams to promote coverage of sustainability at Unity College and serves as the primary contact for media on sustainability issues. Produces internal and external sustainability communications.  Supports college efforts to place well on national college rankings systems.
    13. Identifies grants, funding, and rebates for sustainability initiatives.  Works cooperatively with college fundraising efforts and departments to apply and follow-up on grants and other funding.
    14. Advises building and planning projects. Provides input on sustainable building and design during the design and planning process, reviews plans, and recommends methods to integrate green design principles and high-performance building practices for all new construction, renovations, and operations on campus.
    15. Ensures recruitment, training, and supervision of sustainability work-study students and volunteers on work crews and details.
    16. Provides supervision and managerial oversight for sustainability and other functional areas as assigned. Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the institution’s policies and procedures, laws, and regulations.
    17. Manages strategic plan initiatives and goals as assigned.
    18. Provides informed, effective, and collaborative leadership within a model of functional leadership and shared governance.
    19. Establishes and maintains departmental plans for each supervisory area including goals, measurable outcomes, assessment plan, budget, timeline, and benchmarks for each.
    20. Establishes business protocols, standards, and procedures for all supervisory areas and works with Data Governance Committee and other campus groups to ensure best practices.
    21. Advocates for institutional and external resources to create and maintain high quality departments and programs and manages the budget for areas of oversight.
    22. Manages financial, material, and personnel resources in accordance with governance policies and in alignment with the Strategic Plan.
    23. Continually assesses and strengthens all phases of each functional area to improve processes and efficiencies.
    24. Works to maintain a campus culture of customer service and advocates for student success.
    25. Represents the college in formal and informal presentations and through networking as needed in related functions.
    26. Serves as a member of Senior Staff.
    27. May serve as staff liaison to a standing committee of the Board of Trustees at the discretion of the President.
    28. Supports institutional sustainability initiatives and values as a senior member of the college.
    29. Contributes to the college’s commitment to safety by using safe work habits, using ergonomics and proper lifting and biohazard protocol as appropriate. Assists other leaders in managing workplace safety.
    30. Assumes responsibility to maintain and upgrade professional knowledge and skills with regulations, industry trends, current practices, new developments, and applicable laws.
    31. Serves as a role model for the college’s standards of conduct.
    32. Performs other duties as assigned.