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Maria Papadakis Sustainability educator
Maria Papadakis defines enthusiasm. Talk to her for two minutes and you’ll understand that she is passionate about changing anyone and everyone’s mind about environmental responsibility, especially with respect to energy use. And she is hardly a new convert. In fact, for more than two decades, Maria has led a charge toward environmental sustainability and responsibility. “I’m a child of the 1970s,” she says, “I don’t ever not think about it.” In 2004, she and Towana Moore, associate vice president for business services, teamed up to co-chair JMU President Linwood Roses’ Commission on Environmental Stewardship to help the university round up a multiplicity of programs, courses and people all moving toward environmentally sustainable and responsible programs. The result has been a profound change in the future of the university, its students and their futures. As a tireless advocate for energy sustainability and natural resource conservation, Maria works with students, staff, professionals and members of the community to empower them with the knowledge to take more sustainable actions. The results of Maria’s efforts are summed up best by a staff member returning to her office after attending one of many seminars led by Maria: “There are going to be some changes around here.” Maria’s enthusiasm is catching.