Mary Ann Lazarus

Sustainability Leadership and Community Development

Mary Ann wears many hats at WashU. She has been a student, instructor, program coordinator, adviser, consultant and, until recently, was a member of the Board of Trustees. Across all of these roles, she challenges WashU to push the envelope and to embed sustainability into every decision.

About a year and a half ago, Mary Ann accepted the position of Sustainability Coordinator for the sustainability degree and certificate program within UCollege. Mary Ann’s approach was not merely to step into the role, but to rethink the whole program.

She began by meeting with literally everyone: students, current faculty, colleagues in day A&S departments and in Sam Fox, sustainability professionals, academic advisers, coordinators in other UCollege departments. Once she had information and a general strategy in place, should moved into to a deep dive into individual courses, working with instructors to align course content to program objectives. She brought in a new instructor to lead her team in designing a Foundations course that would provide a jumping off point for other instructors and introduce students to sustainability careers and instructors.

Alongside these efforts, she worked to build a community of students and instructors through more frequent communication and gatherings hosted in her own home. At the core of that effort was Mary Ann herself, whom everyone admired and respected and simply wanted to be on the team she was leading.

Additionally, Mary Ann worked as a tireless advocate for everyone associated with the program, whether that was making sure students had the best possible courses or promoting instructors and ensuring enrollment. In a short amount of time, she has redesigned the program and developed a community of students and instructors.

Mary Ann helps to create community in all of her work. She listens, collaborates, re-envisions, and inspires others to get involved in the work for a more sustainable world. Mary Ann knows that sustainability work requires broad collaboration with people from different fields, backgrounds, and lived experiences.

Beyond her involvement in UCollege, Mary Ann has also played an influential role on the sustainability of WashU’s built environment, bringing decades of expertise to the table from her career as a pioneering architect within the green building field. Her impact has been broad, deep and lasting.

When asked to summarize Mary Ann’s leadership and influence on WashU’s build environment, Jamie Kolker, the university architect, had this to say about her:

“Her vision is bold, informed and passionate, yet realistic and attainable.

Her innovation and creativity brings new ideas to what we build and how we plan, and articulates the reasons why we need to do what is often not easy, nor the way we may have done things for many years.

Her collaborative spirit ensures the ability to have multiple perspectives in every conversation: as practitioner, policy-maker, adviser, board member, friend and colleague.

Her engagement across so many worlds in our academic setting inspires future generations to cross disciplines and bring together proven data with bold vision.”