LJWorld Green

Lawrence, Douglas County team up to hire sustainability coordinator

Eileen Horn will help the city and county conserve energy and move the area toward more environmental practices. A federal grant will pay for the first year of the position.

April 8, 2010


When Eileen Horn saw the job description for a new city-county sustainability coordinator position, the Lawrence resident said she could have written it, describing her ideal job.

Horn’s enthusiasm for environmental issues and energy savings helped land her the job, city and county leaders said this week.

“Her enthusiasm is contagious,” Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said. “She just was very knowledgeable about all the things that we needed.”

The city and county commissions created the joint position last year, and Horn will start her new job in early May.

“What I love about sustainability is that it really is a great opportunity for us to develop as a community in a way that can spread the local economy and also protect the environment for future generations,” Horn said.

She is currently the director of education and outreach for the Lawrence-based Climate and Energy Project of the Land Institute. Horn, 29, has lived in Lawrence since 2007.

She is originally from Lenexa and also is an adjunct professor of environmental science at Johnson County Community College. She has served on the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board and the Community Mercantile’s board of directors.

Horn earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from The Catholic University of America in 2002 and a master’s in natural resources from the University of Vermont in 2007.

Her job duties will be split between the city and county. Horn will work to identify potential energy savings on local government buildings and also be responsible for coordinating efforts in the community, including the county’s recently formed Food Policy Council, devoted to strengthening the locally produced food network.

“In many ways, she’s just tailor-made in the experience that she’s had,” assistant city manager Cynthia Wagner said.

The city and county chose Horn among more than 150 applicants from across the country.

The city has received a grant to fund the position for the first year. The county will cover the second year, and after that cost will be split 60 percent by the county and 40 percent by the city.

In her current job, Horn worked on a project to help six Kansas cities work with their utilities and figure out ways to reduce energy use.

“Championing the success is a critical part of this effort,” Horn said.

Weinaug said will be paid $62,500 a year.


NotASquishHead 7 years, 9 months ago

This is crap. Goes right there with the 80K+ per year City Auditor who comes up with ideas like turn off the lights and raise the air conditioner a few degrees. Brilliant!

BorderRuffian 7 years, 9 months ago

Sustainability Coordinator? What in the heck is that?!?!?!? Sustain what? Coordinate what?

Remember the movie "Dave" in which he criticized one of the cabinet members of spending money on a campaign to make Americans feel good about the car they already purchased? This sounds a lot like that.

We're forcing school closings and firing teachers, but now we want to spend money on a Sustainability Coordinator? Save the money and rehire a teacher.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 9 months ago

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cowboy 7 years, 9 months ago

I have no issue with Ms. Horn , I do have an issue with adding positions to address the obvious. If we need to hire a management level position to implement new tactics what are we paying the current facility managers to do ? In my mind each key manager should be responsible for the efficient operation of their unit. This encompasses project , labor , materials , and facilities. If the current managers are not competent enough or inquisitive enough to address these issues and bring forth solutions then they should be replaced. This is more prevalent in the city staff it seems with many knocking down huge salaries and doing little other than spending more money each year. This position with benefits burden will cost the community close to 80,000 per year. It had better pay for itself the first year in savings or it is a loser.

parrothead8 7 years, 9 months ago

Blah blah blah. Buncha whiners complaining about the money we're "wasting" on this position. Did any of you bother to read that "The city has received a grant to fund the position for the first year"? Did anybody bother to realize that she'll probably find ways to save the county/city much more money than they're paying her?

BorderRuffian 7 years, 9 months ago

Still, blah, blah, blah.......

What exactly IS her job description? And no one has yet to tell me just what she will be sustaining or how she will coordinate it.

FreshAirFanatic 7 years, 9 months ago

So would this qualify as a "green job" created? If so, what does it bring the tally up to now? Anyone know? Are we using the fingers on a second hand yet?

curiosityandthecat 7 years, 9 months ago

Eileen will be awesome in this position and the community is lucky to have such an energetic and committed person working here!

cowboy 7 years, 9 months ago

Parrot , you know that once the grant runs out your paying for it. One only need look at the fabulous results the city auditor has produced to understand why citizens question additional "indirect" positions. The job description alone is all over the place for this position.

"Horn will work to identify potential energy savings on local government buildings and also be responsible for coordinating efforts in the community, including the county’s recently formed Food Policy Council, devoted to strengthening the locally produced food network."

This is a fail right out of the gate

Ken Lassman 7 years, 9 months ago

This position will clearly pay for itself in many ways: -returns some of the federal funds back into our locale which would otherwise go to our competing towns and cities; -is focused on energy and resource saving efficiencies for not only the city and county gov't. but also for area businesses, schools and residences; -helps coordinate the sustainability study group's recommendations that will help our community plan more energy efficient development in the future; -will no doubt be used to help draw green industries and businesses into our community, which translates into JOBS, increased tax revenues, etc.

Seems to me to be an excellent investment in the future for our fair city. If you whiners out there have a real beef as to why these are not excellent strategies toward positioning Lawrence and Douglas County into a favorable future, by all means bring them up. So far, there ain't no substance to the complaining, just the usual posturing.

jafs 7 years, 9 months ago


There may be some real benefits to this position, but the thing that astonishes me is how few individuals/businesses implement simple conservation - there are many simple things that can be done to reduce one's use of energy/resources.

It seems to me that we should perhaps implement these before creating new jobs/city positions.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm kinda with cowboy on this one. The present managers really should be doing much, if not most, of what she has been hired to do. However, their time is likely largely taken up by day-to-day operations, and they really don't have time to do what she has been hired to do.

So, I think her primary task should be to help these existing managers refocus their efforts, and modify their job descriptions to permanently include increasing sustainability and energy efficiency. Once that's done, her position can be eliminated-- probably in 5 years or less.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 7 years, 9 months ago

Another waste of taxpayer monies when we are in the middle of a "budget crisis". I am in one, and most of my friends are, as well. Our elected leaders can just spend, spend, spend OUR money on crap like this. Thank you, Lynn

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 9 months ago

I think everyone's just jealous that she found a job and they can't!

LogicMan 7 years, 9 months ago

Let's give her a chance to show what she can do.

Hopefully, yes, her efforts will yield demonstrable savings far in excess of the costs to implement, and her salary, benefits, et al.

But if it devolves into staffing a table at various events, and handing out CFLs, it will prove to be a waste. Hopefully her last recommendation would be to eliminate her own job.

Sunny Parker 7 years, 9 months ago

Unbelievable! I need some of that 'grant' money that grows on 'obomba's grant tree'!

This entire city is out of their minds!

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