by Kaylee Hultgren | October 01, 2008
Jen Harpaz 
"We'll start locally, but we hope to spread the word and become experts on a global scale."

Jen Harpaz has taken on the role of environmental sustainability officer, a newly created position at meeting planning and site-selection company VenueQuest, headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga. As the company's first ESO, Jen will create green meeting and travel programs, monitor environmental policy companywide, and educate planners and suppliers on the latest trends in sustainability.

How did the ESO position come about? Early this summer I attended two green educational conferences for the Democratic National Convention green committee. I realized how much work it takes to put on a green event, and that very few companies are paving the way for sustainable meetings and travel. VenueQuest has been green from the start, so I knew we could take on this leadership role and really make a difference. After a great deal of research, and many in-depth conversations, we established the ESO.

What will be your greatest challenge? In the beginning, it will be gaining access to the right people within organizations to ensure that significant changes can be made. We want to demonstrate how implementing green efforts not only will be valuable to the environment, but also financially viable.
Where do you see the position progressing? We're starting by being a guiding light for our clients and the hotels we work with. But we also want to help them follow through with their efforts. We'll start locally, but we hope to spread the word and become experts on a global scale.