Kathia Benitez

Creating a more sustainable future

Age: 34

Title: Director of Sustainability

Name of Organization: Northwestern University

Bio: Kathia Benitez has played a key role in making Northwestern University more sustainable and energy-efficient. As the Director of Sustainability, she developed and implemented the university’s first five-year Strategic Sustainability Plan. She also leads sustainNU, a program that engages students, faculty, and staff in reducing — and eventually eliminating — Northwestern’s contribution to climate change.

Benitez also sits on the board of Mujeres de HACE (Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement), supporting the program’s professional development, fundraising and mentoring efforts.

Before working for Northwestern, Benitez served as a senior manager supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative in the Washington, D.C. area, and worked as a program manager for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where she managed a $60 million annual utility budget. Under her leadership, the hospital won several ENERGY STAR Awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Benitez holds numerous certifications and credentials, including as a Certified Energy Manager, a Certified Energy Procurement Professional, a Certified Demand Side Manager, and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate. She holds a master’s degree in behavioral health from Nyack College in New York and is working toward a Master of Science in Energy Management from New York Institute of Technology. Benitez recently completed an Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership program through Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.