The University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships have hired Andi Sutton as the new executive director of the Southeast RSDP.

In her new role, Sutton will lead a regional board of directors and work with local governments, nonprofits, community groups, foundations and a variety of partners across southeast Minnesota to connect local sustainability projects to research, education and resources at the University of Minnesota.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Southeast RSDP to support community-driven projects that advance sustainability and resilience across southeastern Minnesota,” Sutton said. “I am a firm believer that change begins at home, and I can’t wait to work with partners across the region who are passionate about building a healthier, more equitable and sustainable world.”

Southeast RSDP is one of five regions of the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships supporting local sustainability projects across Greater Minnesota. RSDP works in four focus areas: sustainable agriculture and food systems, clean energy, natural resources and resilient communities. The Southeast RSDP service area includes Le Sueur, Nicollet, Blue Earth, Faribault, Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Fillmore, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona counties and the sovereign Native Nation of Prairie Island Indian Community (Dakota).

Sutton brings extensive experience working across sectors and higher education institutions to advance knowledge of and engagement in water, food, agriculture, climate change and social justice issues. She is a Minnesota native who has most recently served as communications and program manager at the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this role, Sutton directed global outreach and managed funding and other initiatives supporting sustainability research collaborations.

Sutton also merges her passion for sustainability with service as a community-based public artist. She has gathered stakeholders in Minnesota to share their care for and connections to water systems throughout the state, and brought together CSA farms to grow bitter melon as a cultural awareness, contemporary art and economic development activity. Sutton recently moved to Rochester with her husband and daughter.

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