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New sustainability office leaders announced for Lawrence and Douglas County

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The City of Lawrence and Douglas County have announced the new leaders of their sustainability offices: Kathy Richardson and Kim Criner Ritchie, respectively.

The separate sustainability offices will still work together on projects such as the Climate Action Plan, but they will each follow their own respective priorities, according to a joint news release from the city and county Wednesday morning.

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Richardson, who has worked for the city for 20 years, was quietly but publicly announced as the permanent director of sustainability during the Sustainability Advisory Board meeting on Aug. 10. She has held the role of interim director since shortly after the previous director left near the end of 2021.

Richardson began her career with the city as the waste reduction and recycling specialist, according to the release. She also served as the solid waste manager and oversaw the collection services for trash, recycling and yard waste as well as operations of the city’s compost facility and household hazardous waste facility. 

“The City’s sustainability initiatives will be largely focused on their commitment to environmental sustainability as outlined in the strategic plan,” according to the release.

Criner Ritchie has worked in sustainability for more than 13 years, starting with planning and programming in higher education before working in local government. She started with the Lawrence-Douglas County Sustainability Office in 2019.

The county’s sustainability office will also include Jamie Hofling, sustainability impact analyst; Umut Bayramoglu, Common Ground program manager; and Connie Fitzpatrick, food systems specialist, according to the release.

“The County sustainability office will continue working on supporting local food systems development, adoption and implementation of the Climate Action Plan, enabling urban agriculture and food production, and creating an Open Space plan for the stewardship of undeveloped land in Douglas County,” according to the release.

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