On May 5, Amy Johns ’98 was appointed director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.
Johns replaces Stephanie Boyd, who has served on and off as director of the Center since 2007. During the periods Boyd took leaves from the position, Johns served as interim director. This year, when Boyd left the position permanently, the College opened up a national search to find a new director. Johns was selected from this pool.
“Since I have been interim director, I have been basically doing the work of the director,” Johns said. However, Johns explained that she has been unable to do long-term planning. The Center also hopes to bring in a new assistant director in the new few years. For the past two years, without an assistant director, the Center has been operating with one fewer employee than normal.
As director, Johns has a number of long-term goals. Johns hopes to expand education and outreach on campus. “I find that a lot of people on campus don’t know what Williams is doing to reduce its environmental impact and what they can do to help,” Johns said.
In addition, the new environmental center will open in Kellogg House in late fall or early winter, and will serve as “a really useful tool for teaching about sustainability,” Johns said.
Johns also addressed the College’s sustainability initiatives relative to peer institutions. “In terms of what we are doing, we are on par with our peers,” Johns said. “Where we lag behind is talking about what we are doing and I want to make this more of a priority.”
In the near future, Johns has also been working to develop a new Ephventures program for the class of 2018 called “Root.” The program hopes to engage incoming students on the connections between diversity and the environment. “I have been interested for a long time about the intersections between sustainability and diversity and social justice and identity,” Johns said. In conjunction with the Davis Center, members of the Zilkha Center have selected eight students to serve as leaders for the trip. The program will be capped at 40 students.
“I love this institution, but also have a critical eye on it and there are things about Williams that have changed for the better since I have been here,” Johns said. “But I think we have a long way to go on sustainability and I am eager for the opportunity to help an institution that I care very much about.”