2015- 2016 Executive Board

Dawn Wells
Dawn Wells

Dawn Wells, Chair and Program Director

Focus Areas: Environmental Economics, Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change


Dawn Wells has experience in both non-profit and private sectors and has on-going independent research in India, in collaboration with The Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE).  The focus of her study is on the externalities of development in southern India, with an economic valuation of ecosystem services and analysis of hydroelectric energy production.  She is interested in the nexus of economics, climate change, and loss of biodiversity and how changes in these variables impact one another. She researched the present gender gap in the energy sector for the Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), and assisted in the expansion of their Women in Energy (WIE) program to promote efficiency, equality and sustainability.

Her past and on-going projects focus on biodiversity preservation via economic solutions to stem the ivory trade, in collaboration with Kenya based NGO Wildlife Direct and New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) through a partnership created by the Clinton Global Initiative. She has also served as the New York Co-Chair for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s global awareness campaign on the ivory trade.

She is a member of SDSN Youth (SDSN-Y), a new initiative of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) working engage youth globally in the post-2015 agenda. Through education and global cooperation, SDSN-Y encourages young people to prioritize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by creating a global platform to advocate for change and empowering youth to create sustainable solutions.

Cesar Penafiel

Cesar Penafiel, 2015 Co-Chair and Administrative Director

Program: Master of International Affairs (MIA), Concentration: Energy and Environment

Focus areas: Technologies, Economics, Energy Access, Development

Cesar Penafiel has over 17 years of entrepreneurial experience in the engineering, education and service industries. Following seven years of living, working and volunteering in various countries, he started post-graduate education at SIPA concentrating on energy and environment. He is presently a research assistant at the Center on Global Energy Policy assigned to former International Energy Agency Executive Director, Nobuo Tanaka. His research focuses on international cooperation on nuclear technologies that can be quickly scaled up, made safer, proliferation resistant and capable of consuming nuclear waste and weapon stockpiles to generate vast amounts of electricity for an energy rich future for all nations. Cesar believes that the solutions to achieving a zero carbon world in a decade exist, but politics and mistrust of science are preventing us from achieving this goal.

Amanda Sue Grossi
Amanda Sue Grossi

Amanda Sue Grossi, Events Coordinator

Program: Master of Public Administration in Development Practice

Focus Areas: Food Security, Nutrition, Agriculture, Climate change, Sustainable Development

Currently a first-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) student specializing in Development Practice, Amanda received her B.S. in Environmental Science and B.A. in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with an understanding that effective environmental change cannot be isolated from the larger political system in which it operates.  It was in Los Angeles that Amanda got her first taste of community organizing working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition and was later awakened to the complex interplay of people, the environment, and development status as a student researcher with Conservation International.  Inspired to join the Peace Corps, Amanda then served as an agroforestry extension agent in Sénégal from 2011-2013, engaging in and witnessing firsthand the multidisciplinary nature of sustainable development that ultimately led her to pursue her master’s degree at Columbia.  This summer, Amanda will be working with the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, Kenya as its Policy Innovation Fellow, helping to identify best practices and knowledge needs for future research.  While acknowledging the many challenges of sustainable development, Amanda is incredibly optimistic about the opportunities that it presents and excited about collaborating with groups both on campus and off to foster not just a larger discussion around sustainable development, but measurable actions.

Treasurer: Rossemary Yurivilca

Secretary: Kris Smeage

Partnerships: Megan Anne Burton

Advisor: Dominic Walker




2013 – 2014 Executive Board

President: Cassia Moraes

Vice President: Douglas Enrique Gómez Mendiburu

Treasurer: David Prieto

Secretary: Diana Montoya

Advisor: Dominic Walker

Communications & Media:










2012 – 2013 Executive Board

President: John Romano (

Vice President: Kate Offerdahl (

Treasurer: Julia Sclafani (

Secretary: Diana Montoya (

Advisor: Esperanza Garcia (

Working Group Directors 

Communications & Media: Ana Maria Lebada ( & Tessa Elizabeth Sadie Thwaits (

2011 – 2012 Executive Board
President: Esperanza Garcia (
Vice President: Ben Rattenbury (
Treasurer: Sunserae Smith (
Communications & Media: Sooah Kim (
Partnership: Larissa Johnson (

Fundraising: Patricia Reis ( & Scott Miller (
New York+20: Kate Offerdahl ( & Andrew McCornack (
Rio+20Krystal Laymon (
LogisticsAlaine Marx Advisor: Jairo Garcia and John Romano (