Environmental Veteran Brings Technical and Policy Experience to Sustainability Effort in Atlanta

Sustainable Atlanta, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization focused on sustainability policy and programs, today announced that Suzanne Burnes has been hired as its new executive director effective June 1, 2011.

Created in 2007, Sustainable Atlanta facilitates long-term, strategic progress in Atlanta by convening leaders from academia, businesses, nonprofits, and government to develop sustainability policy and programs for those who live, work and play in Atlanta.

A veteran with nearly two decades of environmental experience at both federal and state levels, Burnes will focus initially on fortifying partnerships with strategic partner organizations throughout the Atlanta community including the City of Atlanta and mapping out future opportunities to provide resources that advance Atlanta’s comprehensive sustainability efforts and economic competitiveness.

“Suzanne is a highly regarded professional with the technical, private industry and policy experience needed to elevate our efforts on behalf of the people of Atlanta,” said Sustainable Atlanta Board of Directors President Scott Wicker. “At a time when other organizations within the sustainability community are in need of strong executive leadership, we are very excited to have secured a dedicated professional of her caliber. She has the unanimous confidence of our board.”


Burnes brings strong leadership in environmental programming and policy efforts. Prior to accepting the position with Sustainable Atlanta, Burnes served as the assistant director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Sustainability Division where, among other responsibilities, she managed federal grants and contracts and led the department in developing its first Sustainable Energy Management Plan. She also spearheaded the division’s Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia, a voluntary business leadership program, through a pivotal period of maturation and growth. As a result of her successful track record in promoting environmental stewardship, Burnes was invited in 2009 to serve as an advisor to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson through the National Advisory Committee on Environmental Policy and Technology.

“Through my work, I have seen that when public agencies, private businesses and communities join forces to address the incredibly complex challenges of balancing environmental protection, economic growth and social equity, there is no limit to what can be accomplished,” said Burnes. “Sustainable Atlanta is the perfect place for me to channel my passion and skills to elevate sustainability collaboration in Atlanta, and for me to ensure that the Atlanta my children inherit provides opportunities for all.”

Burnes earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina with an emphasis on environmental policy. She is a native of north Georgia and currently resides in East Atlanta with her husband and two children. She has been active in both community and environmental advocacy for several years having served on the boards of the Green Meeting Industry Council, SouthStar Community Development Corporation, and Generation Green, a program of the Georgia Conservancy.

For more information about Sustainable Atlanta, please visit www.SustainableAtlanta.org.