Alumni Spotlight: Libby Zemaitis MBA/MS ’14

PM_MBA_BCEP_MG_6539_MedResLibby Zemaitis is one of the few who have experienced the full spectrum of Bard’s Graduate Programs in Sustainability. She is a dual-degree graduate, earning both her MBA in Sustainability and MS in Climate Science and Policy. When talking with Zemaitis, one can easily see how dynamic and driven she is.

Zemaitis’s path to co-founding her own start-up company is a home-grown story. Growing up in New Paltz, New York, her first job was an unpaid internship with a renewable energy start-up that exposed her to global energy issues and gave insight to how to get a business up and running. Before attending Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Zemaitis received her undergraduate degree in Geology from Vassar College. That scientific experience, she says, was the foundation for a Compton Fellowship to conduct her own year-long project on tidal power resources.

She later decided to attend Bard Center for Environmental Policy and enroll in the dual-degree MS/MBA option. “I was considering a graduate program to hone my research, economics, statistics and technical writing skills,” Zemaitis said. “All the work I did over the three years at Bard made me much more confident in these skills. The Climate Science and Policy program and MBA were synchronous to my interests and background. On the MBA side, it was the communication and leadership skills that I use most.”

On top of these skills, Zemaitis said she personally benefited from tapping into a professional network with global reach yet local strength. She said, “I am still in touch with so many of my peers and I don’t have to hesitate to reach out to them with a question. The collaborative nature of the MBA coursework was especially rewarding. It gave me an whole other set of communication tools, team-building skills, and leadership development strategies.”

Zemaitis currently holds two careers simultaneously: one as a climate specialist for the New York Department of Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program and another as Co-Founder and CEO of Up Homes, an idea she had come up with as part of her MBA Capstone Project. Zemaitis believes at the heart of it all is empowering people to build sustainable livelihoods that are protected from the multifaceted risks of climate change. Whether its presenting to a group of investors about Up Homes, engaging with communities to implement climate adaptation plans, or even playing her violin with local Irish bands, Zemaitis finds joy and purpose in engaging with people to convey a message with purpose.

I asked Zemaitis what she considers her own homemade recipe for sustainability. She replied, “Sustainability really comes down to people; at the intersection of personal and community fulfillment. We can take care of others while we take care of ourselves. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive. Like so much else in life, the path to sustainability is also about finding balance and moderation.”

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