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Sustainable Marblehead has a new executive director

Elaine Leahy is the new Sustainable Marblehead Executive Director. Photo by Libby O'Neill

Sustainable Marblehead’s new Executive Director Elaine Leahy wants to remind Marbleheaders that it’s not too late to make a positive change for the environment.

Last week, Leahy replaced former Executive Director Louise Yarmouth at the helm of the environmental nonprofit. Leahy joined Sustainable Marblehead as a volunteer in 2018, and went on to co-chair the organization’s education and conservation working groups.

“I have always had an interest in the planet. I feel so much inspiration from nature, and I really wanted to get involved in a way to protect it and keep Marblehead sustainable and beautiful for generations,” Leahy said. “When I learned about Sustainable Marblehead, that’s when I decided to really get involved.”

Leahy used her marketing and communications background to found the Creation Cares team at Our Lady Star of the Sea parish — a program that brought environmental protection initiatives such as composting and meatless meal drives to the church.

In her new position, Leahy said she aims to grow the nonprofit’s volunteer force to assist with the organization’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. She said many view the climate crisis as a mammoth problem beyond their control and she wants to empower the community to make a difference on a local level.

“I really hope to spread the word to more people in town and let people know what we’re about,” Leahy said. “Future generations are counting on us. I just don’t want people to let the thought that we can’t do everything keep us from doing something. I think there are many small and low- or no-cost ways that we all could help … the threat of inaction is probably the biggest one I see.”

By participating in events and initiatives hosted by Sustainable Marblehead that encourage residents to make small, environmentally-friendly choices such as using reusable water bottles, walking or riding bicycles, or lowering their heat in the winter, Leahy said Marbleheaders can make a large impact on their environment.

Leahy said she also plans to brainstorm potential climate-change-mitigation tactics with local businesses and other nonprofit organizations in Marblehead.

“One thing I want to do is highlight Marbleheaders around town, whether it’s individuals or businesses or our local government officials and ask them, ‘What are you doing in your own lives that is making a difference?’ We can learn from each other and really figure out some easy steps you can do that you may not have thought of,” Leahy said.

Although climate change is a planetary problem, Leahy said she feels a sense of responsibility to help Marblehead actively participate in its solution.

“Climate change is a huge threat to the future of the planet and our children and I want to be able to help do something about it. Climate change touches our health, our lives, and our livelihoods, and if I do something right here in our own corner of the planet, it can lead to a big success for the future, and I want to be a part of that. We all have a shared responsibility for others and for the world,” Leahy said.