Alumni Changemakers: Ramon Cruz
Building a safe and healthy environment for all
To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alumnus Ramon Cruz completed his fellowship at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1997.
Ramon embodies the values of leadership, compassion and dedication. Born in Puerto Rico and raised by a single mother who instigated the importance of service in society, Ramon set his sights early on social and political activism. After graduating from American University with a BA in International Relations and History, he did a year internship, thanks to PPIA, in Brazil immersing himself in the world of environmental policy and in Denmark experiencing the impact of a government that provides a social safety net. This encouraged him to get his dual MPA-URP (Urban and Regional Planning) at Princeton University.
He began his career as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Environmental Defense Fund. As one of the world’s leading environmental organizations, he had the opportunity to work alongside environmental justice leaders and focus on solid waste issues present in New York City at the time.
“The challenges we face are daunting, and we must meet them by advocating first and foremost for policies that protect the most vulnerable among us.”
From there he took on the position of Vice President of Energy and Environment at Partnership of New York City, an organization that brings the major business corporations with a civic mission to improve New York City’s economy, competitiveness, and quality of life.
He then worked for the next decade at the international level for an urban planning think tank called the Institute for Transportation and Developmental Policy as their International Program Policy Director. Through this organization, he became very involved in the UN processes that led to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
He also served in government in his native Puerto Rico where he was the Deputy Director and Vice President of the Environmental Quality Board, the state environmental regulatory agency and today is part of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.
He is currently the first Latino to be elected President in the Sierra Club’s 129-year history. With more than 3.8 members and supporters, the Sierra Club is the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the U.S. This has provided him the opportunity to not only address issues of climate change and environmental justice but to confront systemic racism recognizing the deeply embedded connection between the two.
"We are called to actively and thoughtfully dismantle racism in all of its forms and combat exclusion wherever it occurs—in our parks and wilderness areas, in our own communities, in the halls of power, and especially among our own staff, volunteers, and 3.8 million members and supporters."
Ramon is inviting change that will create a more harmonious world for all life. By focusing and prioritizing policy that preserves and protects, he is a defender of justice and a supporter of both diversity and community.
Thank you, Ramon, for your commitment to equity and environmental justice! Your efforts are securing a thriving future for all. Through your leadership, the abundance and beauty of this planet will not only survive but be enjoyed and experienced by all.
Read more Changemaker profiles here!