By David Mayhew
Clara Changxin Fang recently joined Towson University Facilities planning as the new Sustainability Manager. To say that Clara is passionate about her work in sustainability is an understatement. She spent her early years growing up in Shanghai, where she says “the environment was dusty and polluted and I never saw the sun. The city was always under a cloud of haze and pollution and what light that came though was diffused through the vapor.” Her environment changed dramatically when Clara was nine years old and her family moved to Washington DC. “For the first time, I ran on grassy lawns. I saw a forest and a clear stream. I watched a sunset and a sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay. I spent hours at my window just observing the clouds. I climbed into trees and talked to them. I fell in love with the natural world”.
As Clara grew up she developed an early commitment to improving our planet. “I read books such as Fifty Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. I put bricks in my family’s toilet and made everyone check a box every time they flushed. My family was extremely energy conscious, so I helped them turn down the thermostat and turn off the lights. I volunteered to go on trail clean-ups and help my school recycle.”
Clara’s commitment continued throughout her education and career and it is based on an understanding of the problems facing our planet. Clara earned a Master of Environmental Management degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. While completing her graduate studies, she worked with the Yale Office of Sustainability to develop a composting program for Yale. In addition, she helped write The Green to Gold Business Playbook: Implement Sustainability Practices for Bottom-Line Results in Every Business Function, published by Wiley. Furthermore, she earned the LEED Green Building Design and Construction credential from the U.S. Green Building Council. She is also a recipient of the John and Barbara Yellott Award from the American Solar Energy Society.
Prior to coming to Towson, Clara worked at Swarthmore College where she developed the school’s greenhouse gas inventory, climate action plan and sustainability outreach and communication. Prior to her work at Swarthmore, Clara worked to establish the Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability in Albany, New York. After years living in Massachusetts, the United Kingdom, Utah, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, she is happy to be back in Maryland where she now lives with her husband and near her family.
Ms. Fang also earned a BA in English from Smith College and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Utah. Her poems have been published in Poet Lore, Willow Review, Cold Mountain Review and Flyway, among others. In addition to poetry, Clara enjoys painting. Her poems, paintings and essays can be found on her blog Residence on Earth.