Deborah Steinberg has been hired as the new director of sustainability to fill the role of the Office of Sustainability’s departing director, Froggi VanRiper.
Steinberg grew up in Detroit, Mich., and remembers first learning the word “biodegradable” in grade school. She has been passionate about the environment ever since.
In middle school, she joined a recycling club and helped host “sorting parties” to separate and tear apart mixed recyclables.
She went on to earn an undergraduate degree in environmental science from the University of Michigan, after which she worked at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago doing “informal teaching” for the museum and providing educational information for schools.
Steinberg received a graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a degree in Landscape and Architecture from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pa.
She also worked in her Chatham’s sustainability department as a student assistant.
Most recently, Steinberg has been working in the Washington, D.C. area in a professional association. She said that she has always done programming at the county level, so she would arrange where recycling would be sent and which facilities could process special recycling.
She is quite happy to be back in the Midwest.
“I was drawn to Knox because I loved its mission and hands-on focus,” said Steinberg.
She applied and was contacted by the search team back in August. After a period of video conferencing, she became one of three candidates invited to visit campus, where she met students and attended an open forum.
She then met President Teresa Amott and soon afterward was offered the job.
Steinberg said her first task when she arrives on Nov. 11 will be to gauge the community and find out what the students like about Knox’s sustainability initiatives and what needs improvement.
She wants to continue VanRiper’s legacy and the successful programs that have already been created.
She believes her knowledge of landscaping will help.
“Vegetation can not only [help with] stormwater and energy needs but also improve the surrounding area,” she said.
With her landscape skills, she hopes to magnify Knox’s environmental efforts to an even greater extent and to make the campus the most eco-friendly it can be.