Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Ph.D.

Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Ph.D.

Environmental Consultant

Suzanne believes that a strong economy does not preclude a healthy environment– and vice versa! Rather, they are important partners in a resilient region.

Suzanne’s career has been centered on stakeholder engagement and sustainability action, drawing from a balance of principles in environment, equity, and economy. Suzanne possesses deep knowledge and experience in climate mitigation and resiliency, regulatory efforts, workforce development, ecological restoration, urban forest management and industrial redevelopment. She led strategies and programs for over 17 years at the Chicago Department of Environment, culminating as Commissioner. Key accomplishments included the launch and oversight of: the Chicago Climate Action Plan; Greencorps Chicago; Chicago Center for Green Technology and Green Tech University; the Chicago Conservation Corps; the Calumet Initiative; comprehensive stormwater management, air, and soil and rubble reuse ordinances, the launch of Nature Chicago; restoration and expansion of North Park Village Nature Center; Action H2O; and hiring and leading an amazing cohort of environmental leaders who are out there, rocking it, across the region and the world.

In 2019, Suzanne co-chaired Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s environmental transition committee and served as Interim CEO for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Suzanne has 13+ years of nonprofit and business experience at regional organizations such as Openlands, Jasculca Terman, Chicago Wilderness, and Quercus Consulting, and currently works with ConTextos and Audubon Great Lakes. Suzanne holds a B.S. in horticulture from University of IL, Urbana-Champaign, and a Masters and Ph.D. in communications from Northwestern University.