June 11, 2024 Alumnus Appointed to White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council

, to the , a federal advisory committee established under Executive Order 14008 of January 27, 2001, on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

The 36-member council provides advice and recommendations to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality on how to address current and historic environmental injustice.

Michael Walton, back left, with wife, Bailey, and sons Finn, left, and Henry, right.
Walton, back left, with wife Bailey, and sons Finn, left, and Henry, right.

Walton serves as the general manager of Energy Transition Finance and partner of Emerald Strategy Group, a strategic advisory firm committed to accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies. Growing up in Greeneville, Tennessee, he ignited a passion for sustainable development and community service through environmental summer camps and Scouting America, leading him to pursue a degree in architecture.

“Architecture gave me the opportunity to tangibly improve quality of life and quality of the environment, balancing big picture ideas with practical execution,” said Walton. “The faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Architecture and Design were leading experts in sustainability and positioned me for success in the industry.”

While in the architecture program, Walton interned in the Office of the Architect of the Capitol in Washington DC, served on then Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam’s Student Advisory Board, and studied abroad at ETH Zürich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

Prior to Energy Transition Finance, Walton served as Executive Director of Green Spaces for nine years, a non-profit organization that improves economic, social, and environmental resilience, with a focus on empowering the most vulnerable communities in Tennessee receiving three Environmental Stewardship Awards from Governors Bill Haslam and Bill Lee and the Community Collaborator Award from the Chamber of Commerce. Before that, he was a project architect at Perkins+Will in Washington DC for eight years, a global multidisciplinary architecture and design firm serving leading environmental nonprofits and industry-leading technology companies.

Walton looks forward to sharing his personal experience growing up in rural East Tennessee and professional experience in sustainable development and deploying clean technology.

“I am excited to collaborate with a diverse group of dedicated professionals and community leaders to address critical environmental challenges and promote practical solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future for all communities across the county, especially those that have been and are at risk to be left behind in past transitions,” he said.