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The Business of Sustainability

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  • Lisa Calvano, assistant professor of business, organizations & society


She has managed a rural development project in Haiti, taught English in Japan and researched the economy of an indigenous community in Ecuador. For many people, the list would constitute a lifetime of experiences. For Lisa Calvano, it only scratches the surface.

Calvano brings her passion for exploring new places and her zest for sustainable business to the Department of Business, Organizations & Society, where she began teaching at the beginning of this semester. She has traveled to 40 countries, but her most recent excursions have been the commute between her hometown of Philadelphia and Lancaster. She has taken a liking to the vibrant community around the College.

"I love that there are so many sustainable businesses in Lancaster," Calvano says. "And I love the restaurants."

Teaching is a second career for Calvano, who worked as a nonprofit manager and community activist before entering academia. Her enthusiasm for economic and environmental sustainability led to previous jobs promoting energy efficiency and working to reclaim vacant land in urban neighborhoods. She was the director of development for the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), a catalyst for sustainable business in Philadelphia.

At the NKCDC, Calvano helped to raise funds for the creation of the New Kensington Community Garden Center, a plant-filled oasis that replaced a trash-strewn, abandoned lot.

"The cool thing was that you could actually see a tangible difference being made," Calvano says of her time at the NKCDC. "I worked with a phenomenal group of people to develop strategies that have been adopted by local government and other partners. People started to take greater pride in the neighborhood during the revitalization effort."

While working at the NKCDC, Calvano earned an M.B.A. at Temple University, believing it would help her better navigate the increasingly business-like nonprofit sector. She also holds a Ph.D. from Temple and a master's degree in housing policy from the London School of Economics, one of the many stops on her international itinerary.

"I love to travel, and my husband and I do a lot of it," says Calvano, who met her husband in China on a mini-bus to the Great Wall. "We often travel when we can find frequent-flier tickets."

In Ecuador, Calvano researched the development of a rainforest lodge owned and operated by an indigenous community. She presented the results of her study at the International Association of Business and Society's annual meeting in Florence.

Back on home soil, Calvano helped students start an organization called "Students for Responsible Business" in the Fox School of Business at Temple. The group seeks to produce a network of leaders who use business to make a positive social, environmental and economic impact.

"We're going to start something similar at F&M," the assistant professor says. "It will be called the Business Ethics Club. We're in the planning process right now, but it will be a student-driven organization focusing on ethical and socially responsible business."

As for her new surroundings, Calvano enjoys teaching in a liberal arts environment. "I love the small class sizes, and the ability to get to know students better. I really like the resource-rich environment. It's a great place to teach."