Basketball black top


'Newest dark horse in the climate game?' Sport & Sustainability panel

Global Sport Institute and Global Futures Laboratory presented a panel of academic and sports industry leaders converging at the intersection of sport and the environment. As a $620B industry, sport is deeply embedded in communities around the world with a distinct platform that can be leveraged to safeguard the environment. From air pollution and declining youth sport participation in lower-income areas to allocating more public land for sport and recreation to stadium design addressing carbon emissions standards, how can sport become the platform for creating change and pushing policy action forward?

This panel explored the intersection of sport and the environment focusing on challenges and solutions for sustainable development at the community level, professional level, and government level impacting public policy decisions. 

Guest Panel:

Jennifer Vanos, PhD | Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures

Jennifer Vanos is an assistant professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University. She focuses on extreme heat, thermal comfort, and air pollution in her research, and examines health impacts on vulnerable populations, such as children and athletes. She is currently running numerous field projects in Arizona and collaborates with schools, government, and non-profits in community-based research.

Vanos is an active member of the Urban Climate Research Center at ASU and a scientific advisor for the Korey Stringer Institute. She currently serves on the executive board of the International Society of Biometeorology and is the chair of the Board on Environment and Health for the American Meteorological Society (AMS). She completed her PhD in 2012 at the University of Guelph in Canada and her post-doctoral degree with Health Canada.

Roger McClendon | Executive Director of the Green Sports Alliance 

In his role, he leads the Alliance of international sports and stadium executives, as well as sustainability experts, to use sports as a vehicle to promote healthy, sustainability communities throughout the world. Prior to joining the Alliance, Roger was the first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer for Yum! Brands, whose holdings include Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC restaurants. He also led the development of Blueline, a sustainable design guide for restaurants built on the LEED certification program. Blueline was a global standard implemented in approximately 5,000 Yum! Brand restaurants globally. Due to his efforts, Yum! Was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2017 and 2018, as well as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Roger’s other passion is basketball. He was named a McDonald’s All-American in 1984, on eof the top 25 high school basketball players in the nation and went on to be a four-year starter who closed his University of Cincinnati men’s basketball career as the No. 2 scorer, second only to Oscar Robertson at the time. Roger was inducted into the UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer & Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati.

Stephanie Gerretsen, PhD | Postdoctoral research scholar for Global Sport Institute

Stephanie's research interests lie in the intersection of sport, urban planning and development, and public policy. Prior to joining the Global Sport Institute, Stephanie served as an urban policy consultant at UN-Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya where she worked within the National Urban Policy Programme on several country projects, in addition to producing various normative products on the development and monitoring and evaluation of urban acupuncture projects, mainstreaming public health matters in national urban policies, and integrating the private sector in urban development projects. 

Sofi Armenakian | Director of Operations and Sustainability at Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena

Sofi currently works for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena as the Director of Operations and Sustainability. In addition to overseeing the conversion, uniform, housekeeping departments and work order systems for the award-winning venue, she was the first State Farm Arena employee to be tasked with leading sustainability efforts with a focus on zero-waste operations for the franchise. Under her supervision, State Farm Arena hosted the first-ever zero-waste NBA All-Star Game (2021) and delivered the first TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) certified sporting event in the world (Hawks Eastern Conference First Round Game 4 versus the New York Knicks on May 30, 2021). Armenakian is the first director of sustainability in the NBA

Jordan Enke | Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations at Austin FC

Jordan Enke is the Senior Vice President of Stadium Operations at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.  His responsibilities include overseeing general operations, safety and security, event booking, facilities, grounds, event services, guest services, parking and mobility, and sustainability initiatives.  Jordan has been with Austin FC and Q2 Stadium since 2019 and was an initial member of the front office staff.  As an early member of the Austin FC front office, he was responsible for pre-construction initiatives involving site selection then transitioning to the design and construction efforts for Q2 Stadium and St. David’s Performance Center.

Moderated by:

George Basile, PhD | Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability, College of Global Futures

George Basile is an internationally recognized creative thinker and practitioner in the field of sustainability working to reframe sustainability as a "decision challenge". Basile started out on a traditional academic career path, with a BS in Physics from University of California-Irvine followed by a PhD in Biophysics from University of California-Berkeley and a post-doc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has held teaching positions at Berkeley and Stanford, and helped develop undergraduate and graduate sustainability programs in the United States and EU. He currently serves on the boards of nonprofit organizations and new ventures, and advises Fortune 500 clients and startups on sustainable strategies, operations, tools and actions. He served as the R&D head of The Natural Step, an accelerator of global sustainability and the Executive Director of the ASU/GIOS Decision Theater.

Basile is widely published and is a sought after speaker focusing on creating strategic alignment between business drivers and emerging market needs.