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Hi! My name is Ethan and I’m excited to go on this sustainability learning journey. I am interested and curious about finding ways business can be used to create positive social, economic and environmental change at local and global levels. I have a love for stories, music, and learning from people all around the world. I enjoy reading, playing the piano, exploring natural areas, and volunteering in my community. I believe that cultivating meaningful, compassionate relationships is the foundation of long-lasting change.

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

My personal definition of sustainability is viewing the world through a holistic lens that encompasses all of the elements that impact planetary and human health. It is acknowledging our interconnectedness and interdependence with each other and the Earth. To me, thinking and acting sustainably is about recognizing our agency to impact our environments in both positive and negative ways. Because of the diversity of human perspectives and experience, sustainability is complex and often ambiguous. What one person may view as a positive impact could be seen differently from another person’s perspective.

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

Although I am open to a wide range of possible paths, I know that I will view anything I do through a sustainability lens. I am interested in helping people from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences find opportunities to practice sustainability in their everyday lives, communities, and work, and walking with them on a learning journey to put their goals into action. I could see myself planning and leading programs for a non-profit organization focused on areas I’m passionate about, such as food justice.

I want my role to be one that serves and empowers groups of people that have historically been disenfranchised and left out of key decisions that impact them. I want to build power at the local, community level by identifying people’s strengths, gifts, and talents and helping them to develop and apply these unique capabilities in ways that align with their values and goals. I am interested in learning skills to facilitate conversations around important, challenging subjects and build reciprocal relationships between diverse groups of people.

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

From 2020-21, I was a Fellow in the Social Innovation Academy Fellowship Program, a year-long program that gives youth opportunities to learn about the social impact space and work together on real challenges that social purpose organizations are experiencing. During one of these challenges, I worked with a team of fellows to help an organization that creates work opportunities for people facing barriers to employment expand its services into a new industry.

Another challenge I worked on with a team was identifying potential partnerships for an organization that provides accessible, culturally appropriate mental health care to immigrant and refugee populations.

Currently, I am part of a team that is planning a community mapping event with the goal of empowering residents to identify the unique assets and strengths of the community they live in. We hope that through this initiative, we can help foster a greater sense of belonging among the people who live there, and work with community members to advocate for the changes that they want to see.

Ethan Shi

Ethan Shi

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