David Eady is the new Industry Engagement Manager with the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) and the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business. In this role, he will deepen and expand relationships with the business sector to advance strategic objectives within the two centers, working as part of the SLS Partnerships Team. He has a master’s degree in Urban Studies, concentrated in Community Planning and Development, from Georgia State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, focused on environmental ethics, from University of Georgia.
I grew up in a small college town (Oxford, Georgia) on the eastern edge of Atlanta’s metropolitan area. My spouse and I moved back to Oxford after I completed graduate school, and we live in an historic home that’s been in my family for five generations—six if you count my kids.
I started out my professional life as a community organizer working on environmental and public health challenges in low-income, minority, and coastal communities in Georgia and across the southeast. I also participated in, and eventually led, canvass campaigns, going door-to-door in Metro Atlanta and Macon, Georgia. This was a time of intense learning for me. I was learning on the job from incredible mentors, but I was also reading everything I could find on community organizing, environmental justice, and social change. To further prepare for graduate school, I started taking undergraduate sociology classes on social change, community development, socio-political ecology, and community research methods. This led me to graduate school at Georgia State University, where I concentrated studies in community planning and development while continuing my work with nonprofit environmental groups in the state.
After graduate school, I landed an incredible opportunity with a government think-tank, the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), housed at Georgia Tech, because of my experience with community engagement and environmental justice. This fellowship enabled me to influence policy and strategy across the US Army, and it afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with many others in a movement that successfully made sustainability an organizing principle for strategic planning and management across the enterprise. After four years as a fellow with AEPI, I joined the research faculty in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy (SPP), where I worked on sponsored programs that enabled me to continue to facilitate and advise on sustainability planning, policy, and management.
During my time at SPP, I worked with about a half-dozen military installations while formalizing a sustainability planning framework that became the standard for integrated strategic planning across Army installations. I also worked extensively with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) to develop and demonstrate systems-based approaches to sustainability assessment and strategic energy management. My work with AEPI and SPP culminated in co-authoring the US Army’s capstone sustainability policy and strategic plan, which, along with the installation sustainability planning initiative, was awarded a White House Closing the Circle Award for “Sowing the Seeds of Change.”
In search of new challenges and opportunities, I left Georgia Tech after five years to lead a sustainability practice group with a nonprofit research and development corporation. Then I worked as an independent consultant to GTRI and AEPI before joining a boutique firm to lead teams conducting strategic assessments, developing management plans, and facilitating community partnerships. Most recently, I advised on legislative and regulatory policy initiatives, and I facilitated stakeholder engagements and strategic partnerships across the southeast.
Strategy, technology, and partnerships have been key elements throughout my career. During my tenure with AEPI and then SPP, I learned the importance of building relationships and forming partnerships in the ambitious endeavor to advance sustainability thinking and practice across a complex organizational landscape. This important lesson, which I applied throughout my career, best enabled me to influence others and to have a meaningful impact in various roles.
Joining the SLS and ACSB teams at Georgia Tech is a sort of homecoming. I am excited to forge new relationships and strengthen existing partnerships between Georgia Tech and business communities, as we work together to achieve the vision of a more sustainable future.