Mayor Menino Announces City's First "Greenovate Fellows"
Benita Hussain and Charles Zhu to Serve as Green Champions for Boston on Community Engagement and Policy Development
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For Immediate Release
January 07, 2013
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced the selection of the first two “Greenovate Fellows” for the City of Boston. The two new staff members, Benita Hussain and Charles Zhu, will work to expand Greenovate Boston, a new sustainability movement to ensure a greener, healthier and more prosperous future for the City by meeting Mayor Menino’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020.

“Our new Greenovate Fellows will engage residents, businesses and institutions in greening their lifestyles, operations and commutes,” Mayor Menino said. “Their efforts will build on all the important work we’ve done to establish Boston as a national leader in sustainability, and I’m thrilled these two have joined us on that journey.”

Over the next several months, the Fellows will use a variety of innovative tools to build awareness of the Greenovate movement and to promote the environmental resources offered by the City of Boston and its community partners. Through on-the-ground outreach, business engagement and an interactive website where Bostonians can share how they are “Greenovating,” the Fellows’ upcoming work will culminate in a spring media launch that will include the Mayor’s “Greenovation” awards and an event-filled month promoting the City’s sustainability efforts.

“The Greenovate Fellows Program is a testament to Mayor Menino’s commitment to advancing Boston’s national standing as a leader in forward-thinking sustainability policy,” said John Cleveland, Executive Director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, a group of business and civic leaders in Boston convened by Mayor Menino in 2010 to meet the goals of the Mayor’s Climate Action Plan. “These are two dynamic young professionals who will help generate ideas and awareness for residents and businesses about the opportunities for sustainable progress in the City.”

Modeled on the City’s successful New Urban Mechanics Fellowship Program, the Greenovate Fellowship was created with the goal of further developing the leadership potential of remarkable young professionals.

The City of Boston is now a national leader among major cities in hosting a fellowship program specifically focused on sustainability. Hussain and Zhu were chosen following an extensive selection and interview process, and will work for two years in the City’s Office of Environment and Energy under the direction of Chief Brian Swett.

“Greenovate Boston will connect the entire Boston community to motivate behavior change, and in turn reduce carbon emissions,” Chief Swett said. “We want to share success stories and inspire Bostonians to take action at home and at work —and by hiring Benita and Charles as Greenovate Fellows, we’re able to provide support and a customized approach to help everyone be a part of Boston’s green future.”

With a degree in Environmental Studies from Cornell University and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, Benita Hussain is a former corporate associate at the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster. She has managed an affordable housing program for the City of New York and the expansion of charter schools in New York City and Newark, New Jersey, as a director of the non-profit developer Civic Builders. A fellow of the Journalism & Women’s Symposium, Hussain is also a freelance journalist whose environmental, adventure, and design writing has appeared in publications including Sierra Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Outside Magazine, among others.

Charles Zhu most recently worked for the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change), and previously for the U.S. Department of Transportation, where he gained expertise on electric vehicle policy, solar deployment, CO2-enhanced oil recovery, and energy efficiency financing. He has also worked on building a start-up accelerating community investment in local energy efficiency projects. Zhu holds a degree from Yale University in environmental studies and concentrations in economics and applied mathematics. He is a Truman and Udall Scholar.

The Greenovate Fellowship Program is supported by a grant from the Barr Foundation. For more information on Greenovate Boston, visit


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