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Colleen Kiernan stepping down as director of Sierra Club-Georgia

Colleen Kiernan

Lee Biola of Citizens for Progressive Transit; Colleen Kiernan and Brionte McCorkle - both of the Sierra Club - shed tears of joy after Clayton Commission vote in 2014

By Maria Saporta

Colleen Kiernan, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter, has announced she will be stepping down on April 1.

A newsletter wrote that “we are bidding a fond but reluctant farewell” to Kiernan.

Colleen Kiernan

Colleen Kiernan

“The mountains are calling and I must go,” Kiernan was quoted in the newsletter. She will head to Northern California for some rest and recreation before returning in may “to begin her next adventure.”

Kiernan became director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter in 2010, and the chapter described her tenure as “one of the most successful periods in our history.”

There were victories on clean energy, including Cobb EMC’s withdrawal from the Plant Washington coal project, the cancellation of the proposed Longleaf coal plant after an 11-year battle, and commitments from Georgia Power to retire a quarter of its coal fleet and add over 1 gigawatt in renewables.

On the transportation front, Kiernan led the Chapter’s effort to defeat the 2012 T-SPLOST. That was followed by Sierra Club’s grassroots efforts to enjoy a historic victory on transit in 2014 as Clayton County voted overwhelmingly to join MARTA.

The Chapter said that Kiernan is leaving big shoes to fill, and it is now actively looking for a new director. The application will open for the public on March 2.

The Sierra Club also announced other staffing changes. The Club’s Volunteer Coordinator – Yeou-Rong Jih – is now working for the City of Atlanta’s Sustainability Office.

The Club plans to replace her with a Chapter coordinator, who will serve as its office manager and point person on all things behind-the-scenes. Josh Hanthorn, who served as the Wildlands & Wildlife Coordinator from last May to December through a program called the Mission Continues now has a full-time, permanent position with Defenders of Wildlife in Sacramento, CA.

Colleen Kiernan

Lee Biola of Citizens for Progressive Transit; Colleen Kiernan and Brionte McCorkle – both of the Sierra Club – shed tears of joy after Clayton Commission vote in 2014

Brionté McCorkle has been promoted to Assistant Chapter Director. In addition to her responsibilities with transportation and communications work, she will be taking on new responsibility for the Club’s political and legislative work as well as taking the lead on hiring our new Chapter Coordinator. The newsletter said the organization is impressed with McCorkle’s” positive attitude, poise under pressure, and ability to make our communications look pretty.”

Ian Karra will continue serving as the Club’s Georgia Beyond Coal Organizer.

Also, the Sierra Club is welcoming back Erin Glynn to its team as a consultant. As the former Georgia Beyond Coal Organizer, Glynn now will be working with the Public

Service Commission on improving Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan so that it includes a lot less coal and a lot more renewables and efficiency.

Finally, the Club is welcoming Lornett Vestal, who is joining the office in the new position of SE Military Veterans & Outdoors Coordinator. He’ll be working to develop outings programming and volunteer leaders for veterans and their families in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida.

David Emory Colleen Kiernan keith Parker

Transit advocates: David Emory and Colleen Kiernan of the Sierra Club; and MARTA’s Keith Parker celebrate the new Clayton service

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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