Lauren Steniec, Executive Board, Sustainable Syracuse
Lauren is the Owner of re-habitat LLC, an interior and sustainability consulting group started in 2016. Re-habitat focuses on the development of existing buildings and urban infill projects to create robust, sustainable communities. Projects include the redevelopment of the Dietz Lantern Factory, multiple revitalizations of historic federal armory projects including their LEED certifications, and numerous urban infill and retrofits to existing building projects. Prior to the formation of Re-habitat, Lauren worked for Pyramid Management Group as their Enhancement Project Manager and Director of Sustainability. She designed and oversaw the redevelopment of over 20 million square feet of retail shopping centers across New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia including Cheektowaga, New York’s Walden Galleria ThEATery Development, and Destiny USA’s expansion in Syracuse, New York including the LEED Gold Core and Shell Project, and over 70 LEED Certified retail spaces within the Center.
Lauren is also active in the community, recently taking over as Onondaga Community College’s Program Coordinator of Architectural Design and Construction Management. In this program, she combines fundamental design and sustainability principles as part of her coursework. Currently, Lauren resides on the Sustainable Syracuse (Formerly SUN) Executive Committee, Syracuse Parks Conservancy Development Committee, and Clean Communities CNY. Her focus on healthy communities is further demonstrated in her volunteer work with On Point for College and the Synergie Center as a student mentor. She currently co-hosts a sustainability-focused podcast named, “Subject 2 Change-Sustainability” where she leads “kitchen table” chats with industry leaders in their segment of sustainability. Lauren has enjoyed past volunteer positions as Past Chair of the US Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter.
Initially a student of Interior Design at Rochester Institute of Technology, Lauren completed a Bachelor of Fine Art. Several years later Lauren completed a Master of Science at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry in Construction Management and Green Building. Lauren’s focus throughout both programs was on progressive sustainability for the built environment. She is a dedicated practitioner of building reuse and when this is not possible, creative and dynamic projects that promote the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit. Lauren is a tireless advocate for the creation of healthy environments for all.
Diane Brandli, President, Greening USA
Diane is a retired Commercial Interior Designer. She worked for the University Architect at the University of Southern California, the Office of Design & Construction at Syracuse University, and as the Director of Interior Design at Ashley McGraw Architects. In early 2000, Diane began to read about the U.S. Green Building Council and “sustainable products”. Since she was specifying millions of dollars-worth of products for large construction projects, Diane felt an obligation to learn what “sustainable products” meant. She learned that the answer to her question is complicated and involves environmental, economic, and social consequences. Diane spent several years lecturing about sustainability topics across Upstate NY and became a LEED Accredited Professional, the Green Schools Committee Chair for the USGBC NY Upstate Chapter, an advisor to the NYS Green Building Conference, and a founding member of GreeningUSA in 2003.
Dan Kwasnowski, Director, Onondaga County Dpt. of Planning
Dan is the Planning Director for Onondaga County Planning. Dan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners & has been working as a planner in varying applications for 22 years, including as a town planner/director for eight years, a private consultant & entrepreneur for six years, a River Restoration Specialist, Hydropower Regulatory & Environmental Specialist, & as the Executive Director of a land trust in Lake Placid. Dan’s graduate degree is from SUNY ESF & he is a member of the SUNY ESF Foundation Board. Dan lives in the Village of Marcellus with his wife Karen & two children, Jonah & Colden, & is a nationally ranked Ultra Endurance mountain biker in the Master’s class.
Owen Kerney, Deputy Commissioner, City Planning & Sustainability Dpt. of Neighborhood & Business Development
Owen is the City’s Deputy Commissioner for Planning & Sustainability, which focuses on urban planning & design & environmental initiatives to promote & enhance the livability & prosperity of the City of Syracuse. Owen develops & manages a variety of planning & capital projects for the City including the City’s Comprehensive Plan 2040, the Local Waterfront Revitalizations Plan program, & multiple State & Federal grant projects. He recently led the completion of the City’s comprehensive zoning update, “ReZone Syracuse,” in June 2023. He lives in Syracuse with his wife Melanie & their three children.