Our Team

Our Team

The Office of Sustainability is a department of Columbia University Facilities and Operations that initiates, coordinates, and implements practical programs to reduce the University’s environmental footprint. The office works to promote a culture that values the environment and acts to protect it, collaborating with students, staff, and neighbors to achieve the University's sustainability goals.

  • Samreen is the first to fill the role of Director, Sustainability Analytics, responsible for creating and implementing a strategic plan to centralize sustainability metrics and employ more rigorous and frequent analytics that ensure Columbia achieves Plan 2030 goals. In this role, she oversees the development of both internal and externally-facing sustainability data hubs and curate detailed metrics to support senior level decision-making.  

    Samreen joined the Office of Sustainability after completing her Master of Science in Sustainability Management (SUMA) at Columbia. While completing the SUMA program, she worked part-time with the New York Housing Authority's sustainability team on their energy and electrification projects. Before SUMA, Samreen studied Information Technology and earned her MBA in Marketing, Business Management, and Supply Chain.  

    Samreen's background includes a variety of roles at Shell International, including supply chain, sales, marketing, Human Resources, health, safety, and environment. Her progressive professional experience within the energy sector spans over 12 years.  

    Samreen is originally from Karachi, Pakistan and has traveled the world while challenging herself and learning new skills. In her free time she enjoys reading literature and history.

  • Ms. Prata is the Assistant Vice President in the Office of Sustainability at Columbia University in New York City. She leads a University-wide initiative that brings together staff, students and faculty to set and achieve goals towards a more Sustainable Columbia. In collaboration with leadership in both University Facilities and Operations and The Climate School, Ms. Prata designed a governance model to centralize this important work through the Senior Sustainability Advisory Committee and a number of focus teams. Ms. Prata led the creation of the university's first ever sustainability plan in 2017. To position Columbia as a climate leader she ensured the second plan, Plan 2030, set science based targets vetted by University climate scientists and the UNEP to put the University on a path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Ms. Prata has served as the Co-Chair of the Ivy Plus Sustainability Consortium, and as an Advisory Board member for the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN).

    Prior to her current role, Ms. Prata served as the first named Corporate Sustainability Officer at NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP), of the top ten hospitals in the nation by US News & World Report where she launched an expansive sustainability program that functioned at both the grassroots and executive level and sparked an organizational shift towards sustainable practices and policy. Under her leadership, NYP received myriad environmental excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth between 2009 and 2013, as well as Energy Star awards from the Environmental Protection Agency. Previously, Ms. Prata helped manage the environment of care regulatory efforts at NYP after serving as a senior fundraiser for Weill Cornell Medical Center. Before transitioning to healthcare, Ms. Prata held positions specializing in corporate broadcast communications.

    Ms. Prata received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Colgate University, and a Masters of Public Administration degree at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

  • Janice Erskine has been a Columbia University employee for 23 years. In her present position as Office Manager in the Office of Sustainability, she manages accounts, oversees contracts and change orders, assists with communications among department members and scans electronic and print media for their latest sustainability reports. She also oversees the calendar and travel expenses for the department.

    She started at Columbia in a medical billing office at Harlem Hospital, then was promoted to Practice Plan Coordinator in the Psychiatry Department of Harlem Hospital. From there Erskine became executive assistant to the assistant director of psychiatry. She moved to her position in the Office of Sustainability about a year ago from Billing Supervisor at Harlem Hospital when that department was outsourced.

    Erskine's commitment to her work at Columbia is reflected in a daily 188-mile round trip commute from her home in Tannersville, Pa.

  • Helen Bielak is the Office of Sustainability's Operations Manager. One of Bielak's current projects is working with Institution Recycling Network, a cooperative that works largely with educational and health care institutions, helping them manage their recycling and reuse efforts.

    As manager of the surplus Reuse Program, Bielak acts as a matchmaker of sorts, learning about items available for reuse and finding channels for linking them with recipients on campus, in the Morningside neighborhood and in other parts of the world. The Surplus Reuse Program is a centralized resource in Columbia's growing effort to keep as much material as possible out of landfills.

    Bielak's career in facilities management – both in private industry and at Columbia University – has been its own course in sustainability. Over the years she's integrated countless principles and practices, applying them in her current position.

    Bielak came to Columbia in 1999, as Building Operations Manager for the University Residence Halls department. Her pioneering work with the University's "greening" began shortly thereafter, with the renovation of the East Campus townhouses.

    Over the years, training has been a significant part of her work. Most recently she has been introducing new employees to the Office of Sustainability efforts at Columbia as a presenter in Human Resources' Learning and Development orientation program. This fall she has done similar programs for the Medical, Dental and Public Health Schools on the Columbia University Medical School campus, and for Arts and Sciences, Student Services, SEAS, Columbia College, International Studies, Columbia Business and Law Schools, and the RA Training Program - all on the Morningside campus.

    Bielak and Catherine Resler, Recycling and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs Manager, have also been working on environmental audits with personnel at Columbia University Press, Studebaker, and CUMC residence halls.

    Under Facilities' auspices, Bielak worked on the organization of Dumpster Days, in which faculty and staff was encouraged to clean their work places, with emphasis on recycling. In recent years, Dumpster Days have evolved into Give & Go Green, a collaborative effort among Eco-Reps, Housing & Dining, and Facilities, with huge amounts of donations going to local agencies rather than into landfills.

  • Daniel Allalemdjian is the Director of Sustainability and Transportation in the Office of Sustainability at Columbia University. He joined Columbia in 2014 and now his role encompasses multiple topics that support Columbia’s sustainability goals.

    Daniel manages the University’s campus engagement strategies for sustainability. This includes establishing and maintaining initiatives at multiple layers of the University to spur action to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, his focus is on decreasing Scope 3 emissions sources such as business travel, supply chain, waste, and commute travel. Daniel is also responsible for supporting Columbia’s “Campus As a Living Lab” initiative that connects Columbia students to work on in-house, real-world challenges that will enhance their Columbia experience and act as a learning opportunity – resulting in a mutual benefit. Daniel is often a client to the undergraduate Sustainability Development capstone classes, as well as manages student interns.

    Daniel’s role also includes managing and growing the University's Transportation Demand Management (TDM) initiatives that reduce GHG emissions and congestion associated with commute travel to and from the University. These initiatives have been centralized on Columbia’s Transportation website.

    Daniel is also responsible for overseeing the transition of Columbia’s owned and contracted vehicle fleet to zero emissions to meet Columbia’s sustainability targets. Most notably, in 2018, Columbia transitioned its intercampus bus fleet to all-electric buses, which were among the first to operate in New York City.

    Daniel leads Columbia’s sustainability planning efforts for transportation, serving as the Chair of Columbia's Transportation Working Group. This group brings together key staff, expert faculty, and students to plan how to improve campus access and support sustainable transportation design that maintains Columbia as a leader in transportation. Daniel and the working group have established GHG inventories and targets to support Columbia’s sustainability plan, Plan 2030.  

    Under Daniel’s leadership, Columbia has received multiple transportation awards from industry organizations including Best Workplace for Commuters, The Association for Commuter Transportation, and The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

    In Daniel’s time before Columbia, he worked as a TDM consultant at URS, now AECOM, in Boston, and as a stakeholder and community engagement consultant at Parsons Brinckerhoff, now WSP in Brisbane, Australia.

    Daniel holds a Bachelor of Science in Environment from Griffith University, Australia, is a TDM Certified Professional, and is currently a candidate for a Master of Science in Sustainability Management at Columbia University.

    Daniel is a transportation enthusiast, a “commute doctor,” and loves topography maps. In his job, Daniel genuinely enjoys building relationships with his University and professional peers, and thinking big picture.

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