Leading Sustainability & Resilience: Chief Officer Carrie Black


In July 2020, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings appointed a 40-member committee of sustainability and resilience subject matter experts from surrounding businesses, agencies, municipalities and universities to assist with the development of a 2030 Sustainable Operations and Resilience Action Plan (SORAP) for internal operations. The SORAP’s 17 goals are collaborative and align with regional and national objectives.

Carrie BlackIn order to continue to facilitate the plan, Mayor Demings recently named Carrie Black as the County’s new Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer. Black, who comes to the position with 10 years in sustainability management efforts working for Jacksonville University, Valencia College and the Green Team Project, is charged with leading the execution of SORAP and managing climate mitigation efforts.

“My job is to implement this plan so we can lead by example,” asserted Black. “We’re following these guidelines and using our resources wisely so we can encourage others to be good stewards as well. By making sure our own house is in order, we can share our best practices and show we’re doing the work.”

A typical day for Black is never the same, as she gets to work with individuals and businesses across the County. In the morning, you might find her having a conversation about electric vehicle charging facilities. At lunchtime, she might be talking about alternative water supply and conversion. And in the afternoon, you might find her discussing grants to secure funding to keep various programs going.

“I definitely bounce among different topics as they apply to our operations, which is very dynamic,” she admitted. “We’re the fifth largest county in the state, so helping to move the green needle as far as sustainability is concerned is a huge honor and a big responsibility.”

The six focus areas in the SORAP include Energy and Climate Action, Buildings and Infrastructure, Water Use and Quality, Mobility and Fleet, Supply Chain and Materials Management, and Trees and Lands. The plan is comprehensive, and its goals aggressive, but Black is up for the challenge.

“It comes down to decarbonizing our operations and moving towards clean, renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving our environmentally sensitive natural lands” she explained. “There are challenges, as we’re not exempt from inflation and supply chain delays. This is a big undertaking and will require cross-departmental collaboration and innovation,, but I’m excited to work with our great staff and move from aspirational goals to accomplishments.”

Black is most enthusiastic about how accomplishing these goals will have positive effects on both County operations and residents. “Mayor Demings has prioritized sustainability and resiliency because we live in Florida, and our state isn’t immune to a warming planet,” she said. “While we work to mitigate the effects of climate change, simultaneously we need to ensure our critical assets are adapting and being protected. When you’re resilient as a region, you can accomplish great things.”

For more on the Action Plan’s recommended priorities, focus areas, the goals and actions County operations will adopt, and the planning guidelines and strategic documents through which the goals and actions are designed to integrate strategic priorities, go to the Sustainability webpage or the Sustainable Operations and Resilience Brief.

Photo Caption: Carrie Black, Orange County Government’s Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer, third from the left, opens new floating solar array with several county staff members on Thursday, February 23, 2023.

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