By Maria Saporta
The City of Atlanta has a new sustainability director — Denise Quarles — formerly vice president of environmental affairs and director of business development in the energy division of Southwire, a Carrollton-based manufacturer of electric wiring.
In a release, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said:
“Denise comes to the city from the private sector with an outstanding track record of leading successful sustainability initiatives. I am pleased that Denise is joining our team, and I am confident in her leadership abilities as we strive for Atlanta to become one of the top-10 sustainable cities in the nation.”
The city has been without a sustainability officer since last spring when Mandy Mahoney left the city to join the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance.
In her new position, Quarles will work with both the administration and the Atlanta City Council to help achieve the mayor’s goal to make Atlanta a “top 10” city for sustainability.
She also will be working to upgrade city facilities as part of the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative launched on Nov. 3 as part of President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative.
“From launching a residential weatherization rebate program and starting a major bikeshare program to initiating the conversion of a parking lot across the street from city hall into an urban farm – I am ecstatic about joining this staff and ensuring this list of achievements continues to grow,” Quarles said in a statement. “Most importantly, we have to ensure that our colleagues with the Atlanta City Council and the people of Atlanta know the value of this office to ensure its own sustainability.”
Before working at Southwire, Quarles was with DaimlerChrysler for 12 years, where she worked in business and operations management.
In her new role, Quarles will report directly to the city’s chief operating officer. Mahoney had reported to David Bennett, a senior policy advisor for the mayor. She will manage a staff and budget currently funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and other federal grants.
The search was conducted pro bono by Hagler Homrich over the last several months.
Two Atlanta city councilmembers applauded the selection of Quarles.
“Denise is a local, which is the best of both worlds combined with her expertise and experience,” said Councilman Aaron Watson, Post 2-At-Large. “Since the Office of Sustainability is only effective in its collaboration with other city departments as well as Atlanta’s business and environmental communities, it is critical we have someone lead the effort who understands the Atlanta landscape.”
Councilwoman Carla Smith of District 1 also welcomed a recommitment to the city’s sustainability efforts.
“While I have been involved with many projects over the years that would be considered sustainability initiatives,” Smith said, “the city has moved at a much more progressive pace now that we have a dedicated effort and committed staff.”