Waske Sutter named to state’s first environmental justice council
Published on January 29, 2020
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Alison Waske Sutter, the City of Grand Rapids’ sustainability and performance management officer, has been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to serve on the state’s first Michigan Advisory Council for Environmental Justice (MAC EJ).
Sutter joins 21 Michigan residents on the new advisory council. The MAC EJ will provide public and impacted community input for the directors appointed to the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team. The Response Team plans to hold regional roundtables around the state to ensure as many people as possible are engaged and have a voice on environmental issues.
“I am excited about this appointment and I am hopeful that our statewide collaboration can accelerate work reducing environmental injustice,” Sutter said. “Two of the City’s core values are sustainability and equity. Environmental justice is the intersection of these two values, and my participation on this council will help support the Office of Sustainability’s increased focus on identifying, understanding and addressing environmental injustices in Grand Rapids.”
In announcing the MAC EJ and appointees, Whitmer said it was critical that those impacted by ongoing environmental justice issues had a seat at the table.
“We must ensure that the implementation and enforcement of environmental protections, regulations and policies in Michigan will be fair and meaningful to all Michiganders, regardless of geography, race, color, origin or income,” she said. “Actions like these will help to further rebuild trust in our state government."
Sutter added: “More and more data is showing the extent to which communities of color are and have been disproportionately impacted by environmental pollutants and climate change – something that has been known to communities of color for quite some time.”
As sustainability and performance manager officer, Sutter is responsible for managing the City’s sustainability programs and implementing its strategic plan. She is working to implement solar energy projects in municipal facilities and streamline the process for residents and businesses to install solar. She also is facilitating the achievement of 100 percent renewable energy use for City-owned buildings by 2025, working with community partners on equitable climate change planning and decarbonization practices and bringing heightened awareness to the City’s other sustainability efforts.
Sutter has nearly 20 years of experience in the sustainability profession. Before joining the City, she served in sustainability roles with SpartanNash and the health care industry. She began her career as an environmental attorney.
Sutter serves on the Michigan Green Communities steering committee and is past president of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. The Grand Rapids Business Journal honored Sutter as a 2017 40 Under 40 award recipient and, in 2015, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council awarded her its annual Woman of Inspiration honor.
Sutter received a law degree and master's in environmental management and policy from Indiana University. She received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati.