Elizabeth Schuster, desarrollo económico comunitario

Strong Economies
Healthy Communities
Thriving Ecological Systems

Photo courtesy Damon Noe    

Our Mission

Our mission is to empower organizations to create positive economic, social, and environmental change by building their capacity to achieve measurable, long-lasting impact.

Social Responsibility

Why empower an organization to continue our work after we leave? Won’t that put us out of business? It won’t. Here’s why.

  • Sustainable Economies Consulting is a socially responsible business. We believe that by supporting more organizations, we can increase our impact. By impact, we mean sustaining businesses and household income, improving the quality of life for our communities and the health of natural systems. Securing these outcomes today ensures the future for our communities.
  • We are confident that the quality of our work speaks for itself, keeping us in demand both with your organization as you grow and across your network as it expands.

About Sustainable Economies Consulting

Elizabeth Schuster founded Sustainable Economies Consulting to support multi-sector collaborative projects. We apply the sustainability lens to all our work. Sustainability means we partner with our clients to not only design and implement projects but also measure success and impact of projects relative to their ability to:

  • support the economy and workforce,
  • improve quality of life for our communities, and
  • ensure the future viability of our ecosystems.

Elizabeth brings over 20 years of experience in community economic development in the United States and internationally. Her diverse experience working in manufacturing, agriculture, non-profits, academic institutions and government makes her well poised to build bridges across sectors. Elizabeth earned an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Arizona, giving her state-of-the-art training in quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. She also keeps track of the recent innovations through on-going education and training.

With extensive project management experience in the United States, Honduras, Mexico, and Venezuela, she understands how to manage complex, multi-partner projects. Past funders have included the Walton Family Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration and many regional foundations. The 2017-2019 Lost Valley Nature Park project that Elizabeth led won two awards: the 2018 Somerset County Land Development Award and the 2019 Outstanding Floodplain Management Award from the NJ Association of Floodplain Management.

Elizabeth also has expertise in public speaking, written communication, and facilitation. Throughout her five years as an economist with The Nature Conservancy, Elizabeth gave presentations an average of once a month to a range of audiences, via municipal meetings, workshops, trainings, and conferences (including several keynote addresses). In terms of written communication, she has produced a mix of peer-reviewed publications, numerous reports, and a series of outreach materials and pop-science blogs to communicate with diverse audiences. And her facilitation experience is diverse, ranging from facilitating focus groups with farmers in Venezuela, Honduras and Mexico to facilitation of workshops, meetings, and strategic planning efforts in the United States.

Expert Advisors

Steve Lyon, hydrologist

Steve Lyon

Hydrologist

Steve Lyon was born and raised in Navarre, Ohio. He attended Purdue University and graduated with a BSc (1997-2001) in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Steve completed his MSc (2001-2003) and PhD (2003-2006) both in Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. Steve continued with postdoctoral research (2006-2008) at the University of Arizona. He joined the Department of Physical Geography at Stockholm University in 2008 promoting to Associate Professor (2011) and then Full Professor (2016). While maintaining this affiliation, Steve worked with The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey (2017-2019) as a Freshwater and Conservation Scientist, where he focused on how we can target and prioritize conservation efforts along river networks to re-connect floodplains thereby promoting ecosystem functionality and benefits for both upstream and downstream communities.

Since August 2019, Steve has joined the faculty in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University as an Associate Professor. Steve’s research centers on identifying how landscapes and water interact across scales. Unraveling these feedbacks has significant implications for the current and future sustainability of coupled terrestrial and aquatic systems – particularly those for improving water quality in working landscapes. Specifically, he has worked with in the field with hydrological tracers and water chemistry sampling and hydrometric instrumentation, measurements and sensors. He has a strong basis with geographical information systems (GIS), remote sensing products, and geostatistical approaches.

Fátima Luna

Environmental Economist

Fátima Luna was born and raised in a rural town in southern Zacatecas, Mexico. She received a B.A. in Environmental Economics and Policy from the University of California Berkeley and a M.S. in Agriculture Resource Economics from the University of Arizona. Since 2013, Fátima has been working at the Sonoran Institute for the Colorado River Delta Program. As the Environmental and Natural Resource Economist, her role in the program is to analyze and evaluate the economic, environmental, social, and cultural impacts of restoration efforts in the Colorado River Delta. 

Fátima lives in south Tucson, where she is an active member in her community. She serves in the board of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. She is an advocate for human rights, especially for disenfranchised people including people of color, the LGBTQ community, women and immigrants. In her free time, Fátima enjoys weight lifting, gardening, and playing Son Jarocho. She and her husband are currently raising three children.

Fatima Luna, environmental ecologist
Robert Lawler (Elizabeth Schuster - environmental economist)

Robert E. Lawler

P.E. and Transportation expert (retired)

Throughout most of his 45-year career, Lawler has actively undertaken transportation planning and funding assignments. During his 36-year affiliation with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Columbus, Ohio he served 11 years as the MPO director and two ten-month stints as Interim Executive Director of the agency. With a staff of 32 staff and an annual operating budget of $3.5 million, Lawler worked with local agencies, ODOT, the public, and business to prepare the long range Metropolitan Transportation Plan which included highway, transit, freight, bikeway and pedestrian modes, current and forecasted demand for travel, land use, and demographics, and rideshare; addressed regional and smaller area transportation issues; prepared the Transportation Improvement Program; and $33 million/year in federal transportation funds and up to $21 million/year in Ohio Public Works Commission infrastructure funds were allocated to local projects. 

Consulting assignments included Senior Technical Advisor with HNTB Ohio where he advises local governments on transportation planning and funding from state and federal sources. Other independent assignments included funding strategies for road, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for several towns, selection of consultants for transportation projects in Abu Dhabi, and volunteer assistance on local planning studies and a statewide transportation funding group sponsored by the Ohio General Assembly. 

He holds B.S.C.E. and M.S. degrees from Ohio State University. Lawler is a registered professional engineer in Ohio (retired) and longtime member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the Program Committee of the Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference (OTEC), friend and former member of TRB Environmental Justice in Transportation Committee (ADD50), and a program committee member for the 2014 Ohio Conference on Freight.

Leander Lacy

Social Scientist and
CEO of Lacy Consulting Services

Leander is the CEO and founder of Lacy Consulting Services. His educational background combines wildlife conservation and environmental social science; he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. His graduate degree is a Master of Science MS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University. His graduate research looked at how to improve the quality of life of the urban poor through environmental action in Chiapas, Mexico. Previous work experience includes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he worked at the urban/wildlife interface to facilitate dialogue with communities that disliked “nuisance” bears in Florida. He also worked for The Nature Conservancy as a global social scientist, helping to bring social science principles to initiatives in the United States and internationally.

In addition to Leander’s extensive work facilitating strategic planning processes, he has worked on the ground as a qualitative social scientist conducting interviews and focus group meetings with various stakeholder groups to increase the success of dam removal, to implement nature based solutions, to improve hunting management, to collaboratively manage marine protected areas, and to design and implement urban conservation programs. Analyzing past social science research on the topic of trust, he created a practitioner’s approach to developing strategies aimed at improving and sustaining trust with stakeholders.

Because this work is dependent on talking to diverse communities, he is certified in various diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and offers his services as a diversity workshop facilitator.

Leander Lacy, social scientist
John Truscinski, flood plain manager (Elizabeth Schuster - environmental economist)

John Truscinski

Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM)

John Truscinski, CFM, is a community planner and certified floodplain manager with experience helping coastal and inland communities develop strategies to respond to the growing impacts of sea-level rise, coastal and riverine flooding, and climate change. He recently worked with The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey, as Coastal Resilience Manager, leading a state-wide effort to incorporate living shorelines, marsh restoration, and ecosystem-based climate adaptation strategies into coastal community planning efforts. In this role he worked directly with diverse stakeholders along the Jersey Shore, developing a grants and technical assistance program for living shorelines, building on TNC’s Coastal Resilience decision support mapping tools. 

In October of 2018 John became Director of Resilience Planning at the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) at the University of Connecticut. In this role with CIRCA, he is managing the development of a regional climate adaptation plan for Fairfield and New Haven Counties, as part of the State of Connecticut’s program through the HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition. John holds a Master’s degree in Sustainability Management from Columbia University’s Earth Institute where he focused on methods of urban coastal adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

 

testimonials

Elizabeth Schuster is a capable professional excelling in communication and planning. She delves into an area in which the conservation community needs more support: placing an economic barometer on conservation projects. We have enjoyed working with her as she helps others to see the greater relevance and impact of the work we do to protect and preserve critical space. We found she could give organization to our thoughts and expand it into strategic programing. 

Jane Morton Galetto

President, Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries

Elizabeth is a pleasure to work with – a perfect partner.  She is detail oriented, driven by purpose and sees the big picture.  She stays on task and is very organized.  Maybe most importantly, she is the kind of partner that works professionally but cares personally. 

Lisa Auermuller

Assistant Manager, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve

Elizabeth Schuster entered my office in 2016 with a conceptual plan for Manville, New Jersey, and the Millstone River floodplain.   I had not met Elizabeth before that first meeting when she walked into my office. The plan was to restore the Millstone River floodplain to its natural state while inspiring educational opportunities for the community.  Elizabeth created a conceptual plan that helped Manville obtain $800,000 in grant funding to make the Lost Valley Nature Park a reality.  Elizabeth’s dedication to the community and her ability to create excitement around the Lost Valley Nature Park will be a part of Manville for years to come.

Andrea Wardrop

Past Borough Administrator, Borough of Manville

Elizabeth’s expertise was invaluable as our coalition worked to build a nature-based tourism initiative in rural New Jersey. Along with her balanced perspective between community, economics, and the environment, Elizabeth’s approach is data-driven. The tourism survey she created and implemented was a critical component in the development of our strategy.

Laura Chamberlin

Assistant Director for North America, Manomet

Elizabeth came to our neck of the woods with an entirely different approach that married environment and economics. Her work was thoughtful and impactful. She is a skilled facilitator, extremely knowledgeable, and research oriented. That said, she is also an adept project manager who works with organizations and communities to implement nature based economic development in areas such as trails, open space, tourism and agriculture. I highly recommend Elizabeth.

Renee Brecht-Mangiafico

Owner, Mangiafico Management & Consulting

Evaluating the socio-economic impacts of green infrastructure projects is a daunting task.  When trying to incorporate this type of valuation in our recommendations for coastal resiliency practitioners and planners in New Jersey, we really didn’t know where to begin or what questions to ask.  Early discussions considered not including this type of evaluation due to the challenging nature of the task.  When Elizabeth came on board, she was able to quickly get to the heart of the matter and identify a suite of appropriate metrics that were accessible and understandable to those of us outside of her field.  Was it worth including this evaluation in the final product? I can confirm that it definitely was.  The socio-economic metrics generated great interest in the document and are frequently spoken of as a central part of the work.  Elizabeth’s expertise in this subject matter and her ability to seamlessly integrate into a collaborative setting, make her the ideal candidate for any individual or group looking to integrate environmental economics into their work.

Joshua Moody

Restoration Programs Manager, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

Elizabeth and I worked together for several years at the WS Badger company, an organic cosmetic manufacturing company. During that time WS Badger was seeing double digit sales growth and working to establish certifications and standards for our products and business. Elizabeth and I worked through several of these projects together, including the organic certification of our product line. Elizabeth is an excellent researcher, and thorough project manager who creates plans and supports the team in getting the work completed. Elizabeth follows up and is accountable to timelines and deviations. When needed Elizabeth can be agile and flexible. I would highly recommend Elizabeth for any project. 

Jackie Mitchell

Director of Operations, W.S. Badger Company, Inc.

Sunset Environmental Economist

Photo courtesy Damon Noe    

contact us

Elizabeth Schuster, Economist

Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 243-249-0298
Email: eschuster@sustainableeconomiesconsulting.com

connect

contact us

Elizabeth Schuster, Economist

Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 243-249-0298
Email: eschuster@sustainableeconomiesconsulting.com

connect

contact us

Elizabeth Schuster, Economist

Wooster, OH 44691
Phone: 243-249-0298
Email: eschuster@sustainableeconomiesconsulting.com

connect

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