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Lisa A.W. Kensler — Faculty

Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Photo of Lisa A.W. Kensler

Lisa A.W. Kensler humbly accepting her award.

Dr. Lisa Kensler is the Emily R. and Gerald S. Leischuck Endowed Associate Professor in Educational Leadership in the College of Education. Arriving at Auburn in 2008, her intent was to develop a line of teaching, research, and outreach that integrated her expertise in educational leadership and ecology with her passion for sustainability. As a result, she studies, teaches, and cultivates leadership for transforming K-12 schools into healthy, high-performing green schools where whole-school sustainability is practiced.

Lisa has emerged as a leader in the K-12 green schools movement. Currently, Lisa is one of a small number of scholars in the United States, and internationally, who focus on leadership for green schools. She is striving to build a sustainability-focused scholarly community that will document, support, and inspire trailblazing leaders who are transforming schools for a better world.

A talented educator, Lisa’s teaching responsibilities are to build leadership capacity among her graduate students, all of whom are practicing educators. She introduces the concept of sustainability and its relevance to school leadership in all the courses she teaches. She has also designed and taught an interdisciplinary course on leadership for sustainability that has attracted graduate students from seven different programs across campus.

Research is an important driver of the green schools movement and Lisa’s research has been published in top-tier educational leadership journals, books, and research reports. Her co-authored book, Leadership for Green Schools: Sustainability for Our Children, Our Communities, and Our Planet, was published in 2016. Endorsements for the book speak to its potential for impact. For example, from Joseph Murphy, Mayborn Chair of Education and Associate Dean at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education: “An unparalleled contribution to school leadership. Hugely significant, perfectly timed, and wonderfully accessible.”

Lisa serves on the Academic Sustainability Advisory Committee at Auburn, and is a founding editorial board member and reviewer for a new journal, Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, devoted to disseminating research and best practices related to green schools.

Lisa has an active outreach program, working closely with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Center for Green Schools. Through evaluation work, professional development workshops, and consulting, she supports the Center’s effort towards developing change agents for sustainability in schools across the United States.

Understanding schools as living systems rather than education factories, Lisa is transforming the way schools are perceived. She is helping to create an educational system that better serves school communities and empowers students to make all the difference in the world.