Leah Sunna: Connecting people to sustainability

Leah-Sunna-smilingLeah Sunna is a Tempe native, School of Sustainability alum and a true advocate for helping people find connections to the environment and world around them. Sunna recalls, at a young age, opening Sierra Magazines on her mother’s coffee table and being interested in the environment. From then on, she always identified as a “nature-lover” with a passion for community involvement. Though interested in the environment, the “feel-good” aspect of sustainability also appealed to Sunna. At the end of the day, she wanted to do something that mattered – something that made her feel like she was making a difference. Connecting to the world around her Living in Tempe her whole life, Sunna was able to volunteer often to deepen her connection with the community, and truly enjoy all that the city and people had to offer. It was her senior year of high school when Sunna decided to leave her comfort zone for a year and follow a true passion of hers – horseback riding. This passion prompted her to study abroad in Portugal, where she would spend her days living on a farm, taking classes and riding horses on the land any minute she could get. While living abroad, Sunna was able to see first-hand where her food was coming from and the limited food miles it traveled. The topic of sustainability was becoming more prevalent, making the decision to come to Arizona State University and the School of Sustainability that much easier. Gaining experience and sharing knowledge Sunna always valued opportunities to connect to her environment through education and volunteer work. This drive to make connections only got stronger throughout her years at ASU. With a minor in justice studies, Sunna – along with two friends – began a human rights club on campus to connect to the ASU community and educate peers on important challenges many parts of the world face. During meetings, the club discussed the connections between sustainability and justice studies, and how the two should be understood in order to make a difference. Sunna’s drive certainly led her to where she is today. As a Policy Analyst for Sustainability Policy and Programs at Salt River Project, Sunna works on the company’s annual sustainability report while helping employees better understand sustainability and how it relates to them. To aid this century-year-old organization and its employees in identifying with sustainability, Sunna helps facilitate local farmers markets, company electric vehicle programs, recycling programs and fun interactive videos for employees to gain education on sustainability topics. Aiding students and alumni In addition to helping SRP employees find their connection to sustainability, Sunna wanted to stay involved in the lives of School of Sustainability students and alumni by acting as a resource to them. “I wanted to help maintain and increase the program at SOS, and I wanted to be someone alumni and students can turn to if they have questions they need answered or if they have ideas that need some push,” Sunna says. Sunna explains that she learned a lot over the years, and she wants students and alumni to have someone to turn to if they need help along their journey. It’s what Sunna has always done and continues to do. She helps people find their connection, whether to the environment, to their passions or to the world around them. Along the way, Sunna has made an impact in her community, has helped spread the message of sustainability and has made her own connections in every facet of her life. Her favorite connection of all? Meeting her now-husband, Waleed Sunna, in a School of Sustainability course taught by Professor Shauna BurnSilver. Sunna has come a long way from glancing at Sierra Magazines as a youngster, having turned a care for the environment into a career. She will continue to move forward and help students, alumni, peers and businesses connect to sustainability – leaving them with a better understanding of who they are and how they connect to the world around them.