July 10, 2006
Source: News/Emory Report July 2006

Environmental lawyer Ciannat Howett has been named director for sustainability initiatives, a newly created role that will help ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for the Emory community, both now and for generations to come.

Sustainability is a guiding principle of the University, a fact that recently was reconfirmed in Emory’s 10-year strategic plan.

“Emory is committed to creating a community in which we can thrive in all aspects of a healthy life—economic, environmental and social,” said Michael Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration. “We are delighted that Ciannat has decided to lend her expertise, energy and vision to establishing Emory as an educational model for sustainability, locally and globally.”

Ciannat (key-nut) Howett, who has served as director of the Southern Environmental Law Center since 2002, is well acquainted with Emory. Howett is a graduate (C’87), and for two years following graduation she was associate director of alumni giving and director of the Emory Parent Fund.

There are more strong ties: sister Catherine is associate director of the Carlos Museum, and all four sisters received either bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees from the University. Her father, John Howett, was an art history professor for 35 years.

So obviously Howett has a good understanding of the Emory community’s values and aspirations. “My entire career has been devoted to sustainability and conservation, and so much of my life has evolved around Emory—it’s rare to have the opportunity to combine two passions into one job,” said Howett. “I am very proud of Emory for its accomplishments, in embracing sustainability to date and for the commitment we are making in the strategic plan to a sustainable future. What better definition is there for being ‘ethically engaged’ or demonstrating ‘courageous leadership’?”

Anthropology Professor Peggy Barlett, who served as co-chair of the search committee with Mandl, said that “we considered a compelling group of candidates from across the United States. We are very pleased to have found someone with extremely strong technical competence in the issues of sustainability, the leadership skills we seek and the passion to support excellence in our efforts to make Emory a leader in sustainability.”

Howett, who begins her new position Sept. 1, will work with Chief Environmental Officer John Wegner and other University leaders and representatives to integrate sustainability into both the operational and academic functions of the University.

Reporting jointly to Mandl and Provost Earl Lewis, Howett will network with and facilitate internal and external resources to meet the program’s goals. She will be responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating sustainability initiatives across the University. Howett also will build partnerships with surrounding communities and key Atlanta institutions. Communication and education will be an important part of her job responsibilities.

Prior to her position as SELC director, Howett has worked in the legal arena, serving as a senior attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1996–2002), and as an environmental attorney at Kilpatrick & Stockton (1992–96). She received her law degree from the University of Virginia in 1992.

Among her affiliations, Howett is an advisory board member of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic and a member of the Georgia Attorney General’s Water Advisory Council.

Howett has received awards in recognition of her work, including the 2002 U.S. EPA Gold Medal for Exceptional Service and the 2004 Environmental Hero Award from The Wilderness Society. She is a frequent regional and national speaker on environmental issues, and was executive editor of the Virginia Environmental Law Journal (1991–92).

Howett and her husband reside in Decatur.

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