Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Kathia Benitez (NC ’05; AGSC ’09)

Our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month continues with applause for Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary alumni of Hispanic or Latinx descent who are successfully influencing decisions and contributing solutions to global issues such social justice, poverty, racial reconciliation, clean water, food insecurity and mental health.

Climate change is another issue dominating headlines and stirring debate. Nyack College alumna Kathia Benitez is speaking into that global concern in word and deed.

From her girlhood, with a David-like spirit in a face-off with Goliath, she admits, “Saving the world was a childhood dream.”

Kathy, as she is fondly known, earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies (psychology and pastoral ministry) at Nyack College in 2005 and a master’s degree in 2009 from Nyack’s Alliance Graduate School of Counseling.  She has used the access to higher education offered at Nyack as a steppingstone to the success she is experiencing today.

This year, she added a master’s degree in energy management from New York Institute of Technology College of Engineering and Computing Sciences to her credentials.

“I plan on leveraging my master’s degree in energy management to help advance green buildings and carbon reduction strategies to combat climate change. I am passionate about the environment and doing my part to ensure we leave a better tomorrow for the generations that follow.”

Today, at National Grid, one of the largest investor-owned American companies delivering electricity, natural gas and clean energy to more than 20 million people in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, Kathy is the manager of the Energy Efficiency Program for large commercial, industrial, and small to mid-size business in Upstate and Downstate New York.

Her commitment to tackling environmental issues is evident in the career path she’s taken.

She is a former director of sustainability at Northwestern University, a private research university in Evanston, IL. Prior to her time at Northwestern, Kathy was the senior manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative, providing direct oversight and strategic guidance for the Better Buildings Alliance and Better Building Challenge initiatives. She also served as a sector matter expert for healthcare organizations.

For the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), Kathy has served as a conference speaker for Mujeres de HACE. This national non-profit is dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals. She was also named to the Negocios Now “40 Under 40” list recognizing young Latinx leaders in the Chicago area. Negocios Now is the only digital business publication in the state of Illinois that reaches more than 15,000 Latino entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Her impressive career also includes her role as the Corporate Energy Program Manager for New York Presbyterian Hospital where she managed an annual $60 million utility budget of a 12-million-square-foot building portfolio, which earned several ENERGY STAR Awards for Sustained Excellence in Energy Management and Climate Communications were received. Under her leadership, the hospital was recognized by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering’s Energy to Care program, the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge, and Practice Greenhealth.

Saving the world could have been dismissed as mere childlike faith.  However, the child who was Kathia Beniteza is today the fearless, selfless Latinx leader, using her energy to undertake a cause much bigger than herself–fulfilling her vow “to leave a better tomorrow” for generations to come.