Greenfield’s sustainability chief will lead Northampton’s new climate action department

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 09-15-2023 5:40 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A UMass Amherst graduate who holds a master’s degree in sustainable development and has served as Greenfield’s energy and sustainability director since 2014 has been chosen to run Northampton’s new Climate Action & Project Administration (CAPA) department.

Carole Collins will assume leadership of the new department, which was created earlier in the year by Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra to help ensure future city projects meet climate and sustainability goals to achieve carbon neutrality.

Under Collins’ leadership, Greenfield was recognized in 2021 by the state Department of Energy Resources for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70% since 2008 and a 25% reduction in municipal-wide energy consumption since 2016. Other accomplishments include the transformation of the Fiske Avenue parking lot into a community gathering place and pollinator garden, and the Greenfield Police Department switching its fleet to hybrid cruisers and replacing the station’s HVAC system with a higher-efficiency system.

Collins, who lives in Leeds, studied ecological building design at UMass, and earned her master’s from Antioch University New England.

The city of Northampton has ambitious goals to achieve carbon neutrality for all city operations by 2030, with net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The creation of CAPA is meant to help the city reach those goals, and mirrors action taken at the statewide level with the creation of the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience by the administration of Gov. Maura Healey.

“This new department is a tremendous opportunity for Northampton to continue to be a leader in mitigating climate change, and I look forward to what we can achieve together,” said Collins in a statement. “I am very excited to work in and for the city I have called home for most of my adult life.”

The CAPA Department is staffed by three people — Collins as the inaugural director, an energy and sustainability officer position from the Central Services Department and the chief procurement officer from the auditor’s office.

The city has also appointed Josh Singer as its new energy and sustainability officer, following the departure of Chris Mason from the position earlier this year. Singer was hired to replace Mason in July. William Coffey, another recent hire from this year, is the city’s chief procurement officer.

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According to the city’s fiscal year 2024 budget, Collins’ annual salary is set at $90,000 while Singer will earn $72,000 as energy and sustainability officer and Coffey will make $67,786 for the coming fiscal year.

In addition to the city filling out the CAPA department, it has also announced a new director of human resources.

Chad Dunham, currently a benefits specialist for the city, was named by Sciarra to be the city’s HR director on Wednesday, taking over from the retired Glenda Stoddard, who had served in that position for more than 20 years. Dunham is currently serving as acting director, but will be made official once his appointment is confirmed by the Northampton City Council.

In an interview, Dunham said he would be reviewing the city’s current 13 union contracts, including the contracts with its police and fire departments, to ensure they meet current standards.

“We’ll be reviewing policies to make sure they’re up to date, as well as promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our city,” Dunham said. “I’d also like to thank the outgoing director Glenda Stoddard. I owe her a lot of gratitude and she was a great mentor to me.”

A native of Framingham, Dunham has been with the city for seven years, after first moving to Northampton to obtain his MBA from Springfield College. Dunham also has a certificate in local government leadership and management from Suffolk University and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, which he ear while working for the city.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.

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