2013 Alum launches new MÁS Scholarship Fund to open doors for future sustainability leaders

Miguel Andrés Sossa-Mardomingo’s mother came to the United States as a refugee from Cuba when she was 13. Growing up, his mother always encouraged him to meet as many people as he could, travel, and learn as much as possible—because no one can take away your experiences or what you know, she told him. His father, who was a farmer in the mountains of Medellín, Colombia, instilled the importance of protecting natural resources.

Many decades later, as Sossa-Mardomingo applied to grad school, he hoped he could find a path to help him do all of these things. Thankfully, through the luck of meeting Jenny Wein (Erb 2011) and Cyndy Cleveland, a former Erb Institute staff member, they suggested that he consider the Erb Institute. “I was so glad they did. Erb transformed my life and really enabled me to pivot my career to one aimed at creating good in the world—and doing well at the same time,” he says. He earned his dual degree in 2013.

Now, Sossa-Mardomingo wants to open up those opportunities to more Erb students. He has recently established the Miguel Andrés Sossa-Mardomingo (MÁS) Scholarship Fund, gifting the first $100,000 to a fund that will support dual-degree Erb Institute graduate students over the next 10+ years.

Sossa-Mardomingo named the scholarship to honor his family’s story and what they persevered through to give him opportunities. Also, he points out that not many sustainability or general scholarships are named after Latin Americans. “I want the scholarship name to inspire fellow Latinx and underrepresented minority community members to dream big and to continue giving back however they can,” he says. The acronym MÁS is also a play on the Spanish word for “more,” as in “How can we do more?”

Sossa-Mardomingo appreciates what Erb allowed him to do, including a master’s thesis at SEAS looking at plastic waste in Indonesia, working with professors, and “truly immersing myself with a group who is so bright and inspiring to me, to help channel what I get to do today,” he says. And that Erb community has now become family to him.

His post-Erb career started at Accenture, “where I was thankful to become the first MBA they hired into their sustainability practice. And it was on the shoulders of other Erbers who coached me on how to do a case interview, like David Yang and Mary Fritz,” Sossa-Mardomingo explains. Because of his interest in travel and its effects on climate change, Sossa-Mardomingo moved to Delta Air Lines, where “by day, I worked in sales, and by night, I worked in sustainability as an advisor to our sustainability leadership,” he says.

He later went to Climate Impact Partners, where he helped Global Fortune 500 companies offset their emissions with credible carbon offset programs. Now, he is Vice President and Americas Sustainability GTM Lead at global consulting firm Capgemini. “I get to work across North and South America, with an even broader group of clients, looking at their entire sustainability program,” he says.

Sossa-Mardomingo’s time at Erb uniquely prepared him for this work, he says. Attending and serving as a student instructor in systems thinking classes “really opened my mind to understanding how what we do impacts a system, which impacts another system. And so the work that I do, whether it’s looking at carbon offsetting, whether it’s helping a company think about green supply chain, whether it’s being at Delta Air Lines and helping to catalyze a path to $1 billion and becoming carbon neutral, which is what the CEO ultimately pledged—all of these are predicated on getting different systems to work together.”

Understanding the points of connection between business and science has been important in Sossa-Mardomingo’s career. “There’s distinctly something that is brought to life when you can understand the science of the problems you’re tackling, and you can also understand the business that drives that policy and business strategy for it,” he says.

Over the years, when attending conferences, speaking with leaders, or consulting, “I oftentimes find that we are lacking the voices and the inspiration of people that come from underrepresented communities,” Sossa-Mardomingo says. “The challenge is not necessarily that we’re not supporting those communities—which are most often impacted by the ill effects of climate change and other sustainability-related topics—it’s that if you haven’t lived that experience, it’s really hard to have your strategy be led with that focus in mind, or with that point of view.” He wants the MÁS Scholarship Fund to help students from underrepresented communities get into those roles.

“The more people that we see that share an experience like ours, the more we feel we can do it,” Sossa-Mardomingo says. He hopes the scholarship attracts leaders who can then serve as mentors for future generations, which he sees as a “virtuous and positive circle, bringing more and more attention to sustainability—to communities that traditionally have been underrepresented in that space.”

Sossa-Mardomingo is encouraging others to contribute to the MÁS Scholarship Fund, to take it from $100,000 to $1 million or more. “I’m very thankful for my professors, students, faculty, the admissions department—there were so many people that helped me, and coming from a family who valued ‘paying it forward,’ I am honored to now be in a position to give back.’”