Following the recent appointment of our new Executive Director Sarah Hubbard in October, Sustainable San Mateo County (SSMC) is thrilled to unveil another exciting development within our team and in our efforts to create a more sustainable and just future. We are delighted to announce the expanded role of Program Manager Simona Vallone, who will now lead the planning and implementation for three of SSMC’s core programs: Sustainability Dashboard, Indicators Report and the Sustainability Ideas Bank. This is the first time one Program Manager has led all three of these programs and Simona is the perfect person for the job!

This organizational change will enable SSMC to create more impact from its core programs. For years, these three programs have supplied critical sustainability data and best practices for our local government and community partners. In 2024, we will take a more coordinated approach to our core programs. More than ever before, metrics from the Dashboard will help drive which policies and practices we research and highlight in the Ideas Bank and Indicators Report. And the Dashboard will evolve based on emerging community needs and the adoption of new policies and practices.

Critical to this effort is having one person leading this integrated approach. Simona’s diverse background in research and management across academia and sustainability startups and nonprofits, including years of work on market and policy interventions in food and agriculture, position her well to lead SSMC’s integrated programs.

Simona earned a Ph.D. in the Science and Technology of Food Production from the University of Naples, Italy, and a master’s degree in Social Policies and Strategic Direction for Sustainable Development from the University of Bologna, Italy. While pursuing her master’s degree, she founded and led a nonprofit focused on bringing awareness to the environmental and social impact of the industrial agro-system, fair trade and alternative energies.

After five years of agriculture research at UC Davis, Simona moved to the Bay Area and spent the next seven years working with food and agriculture related startups. Most recently, Simona served as a Research Associate at Stanford University’s Doerr School of Sustainability where her work focused on the acceleration of sustainable food consumption through market and policy interventions.

Through all of these experiences, Simona has gained an extensive understanding of the varying needs and solutions for building a sustainable environment. She’s also developed deep expertise in project management and content production for multiple audiences. She will combine all of these skills as she works to coordinate and expand the impact of SSMC’s core programs.

Simona’s commitment to sustainability is an integral part of her personal ethos. She expresses, “The love I have for the outdoors, cultivated through activities such as hiking and gardening, consistently nurtures my appreciation for the natural world. This, coupled with my extensive background in food and agriculture, affords me a comprehensive perspective to recognize and produce solutions for fostering sustainability across SSMC’s three key areas: the economy, environment and equity.”

SSMC Executive Director Sarah Hubbard shared, “We are thrilled to have Simona take on this expanded role. This will create new opportunities to leverage content and data across our programs and allow us to be even more strategic and focused as we support our government and community partners in creating a more sustainable world.”