Media contact: Jen Keavy
American Public Media Group has appointed strategic water and sustainability expert Amy Skoczlas Cole as managing director of its new national water initiative. The role will play an integral role in shaping and executing a national initiative for Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media that is designed to measurably raise Americans’ engagement with critical water issues, their implications and possible solutions.
Cole’s work will help APMG serve as a convener, partner and global catalyst in building awareness and engagement to help Americans better understand the value of its most precious natural resource and the vital role it plays in their day-to-day well-being and lifestyle. APMG has secured more than a million dollars in philanthropic funding to launch this initiative.
“Our goal with the national water initiative is to serve current and new audiences in different ways, by growing a new media model based on partnerships that will help shape and inform on-air programming, digital content and live events,” said David Kansas, executive vice president and chief operating officer at American Public Media Group. “Amy is a respected expert on water and its integral relationship to nearly every aspect of our lives. Her deep, multi-faceted experience will be invaluable as we embark on this enterprise.”
For more than two decades, Cole has worked at the intersection of the economy, environment, and society in a variety of roles at Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and foundations on both coasts and in Minnesota. Previously, she served as Pentair’s first-ever vice president of corporate social responsibility. There, she designed a shared value program of work to secure safe water, abundant energy, and affordable food for society today and into the future. She also oversaw the company’s sustainability efforts and served as the executive director of The Pentair Foundation, and led Pentair’s signature Project Safe Water. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Cole was eBay’s first sustainability executive, where she led efforts to engage eBay’s more than 100 million users in more sustainable choices at scale.
More recently, Cole founded a strategic advisory firm focused on re-imagining the systems that deliver clean water, sustainable food, and renewable energy to society. There, she collaborated with Safe Water Network, Environmental Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, The McKnight Foundation, Ceres, and Conservation Strategy Fund.
“Water plays an often invisible, but essential, role in our economy, our health and well-being, our food and energy systems, and our recreational and spiritual pursuits,” said Cole. “American Public Media Group is uniquely positioned to engage people in seeing and experiencing the value of water to society. I am so pleased to be leading this effort to build a broad constituency for water stewardship.”
Cole started her career at Conservation International, (CI), where she was a founding Vice President of CI’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. There, she was on the front lines of creating the earliest partnerships between corporations and sustainable development groups, and she worked to build the corporate sustainability sector over a decade plus.
She also is the founding chair of the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, an initiative created with Minnesota Fortune 500 companies, driving next generation sustainability leadership for the region and business community.
Cole is a frequent speaker and presenter, and is the author of numerous articles on the role of markets in sustainable development, including co-editor of “Footprints in the Jungle,” published by Oxford University Press. She holds a B.A. in public policy from Vanderbilt University and an M.B.A. from George Washington University. Cole currently serves on the board of directors of the Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development and the expert advisory council for the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment’s Ensia magazine. She lives in Excelsior, Minn., by beautiful Lake Minnetonka, with her husband, two children and dog.