Mark Taitz, A71
Steering Committee member and Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch
Currently with Merrill Lynch, Mark Taitz (A71) has served for over 25 years in leadership positions at both public and private environmental organizations. He joined the Tufts Environmental Alumni steering committee when it formed in 2010 and spoke with TIE intern Libby Mahaffy in May 2011 about his background, interest in TEA and the future of the chapter.
Libby Mahaffy: How are you using what you learned at Tufts in your current job?
Mark Taitz: I majored in political science and minored in education. Beyond a fabulous education in liberal arts, I didn’t have any specific on-the-job training as you would for [a field like] engineering. Tufts gave me a terrific background: how to think, how to process, and how to synthesize what I’ve learned and put it to business use. For the past 25 years, I’ve been involved in business development with three different environmentally-focused companies as VP of business development. Two of them [were] divisions of public companies, and the other a small manufacturing company in New Hampshire specializing in the manufacture of bio-fuels. I got my environmental experience with those companies, and now as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch I’ve carried over the environmental aspects and focus on working with clients who want to balance their portfolios with socially responsible investments including clean energy and global infrastructure
Why were you interested in being a part of the TEA steering committee?
I’ve maintained a very strong interest in environmental issues from my previous work experience. I’m interested in networking and Tufts-oriented affinity groups that share a common interest. The fact that Tufts offers a group [with] an environmental focus gives me an opportunity to talk with people who share similar interests.
What do you bring to the steering committee?
I’m the only guy! (laughs) I have a lot of organizational skills. I’ve worked on a lot of committees in the past, in particular for church and community activities. In my previous experience I managed cost issues, so this is really just about the process — getting this group off the ground and sustaining it. Our particular focus right now is on sustaining the momentum that we’ve built up with the several events that we’ve sponsored so far and also to try to expand our scope geographically. I’d like to think that I have some ability to coordinate and help keep people focused on the process.
What are the next steps for the steering committee?
Certainly the biggest focus we have right now is to become a full alumni chapter. I think we have a provisional status right now. Full status will give us a little better access to the environmental alumni network and also get us some funding that we need in order to try to expand our charter.
There are several things we want to do to educate the network and provide a forum for discussion and debate. Those initiatives get TEA not only more visibility but also more participation. We’re looking at a “field day” with students, giving students a forum to speak with alumni that would help give them some direction if they choose the environmental fields for their careers.
For our next speaking event we’re looking for somebody who can speak to the topic of sea change — climate change and sea level rise – and the long-term effect of rising tides on our country and the globe.
The main things right now are becoming a full chapter, increasing participation both locally and nationally and having a couple of events coming out of the gate starting next school year.
Why would Tufts alumni want to be involved in the Tufts Environmental Alumni association?
Anyone who has an interest in or wants to learn more about environmental issues should consider getting involved with TEA. Those people who would like to have a forum for healthy discussion and debate should also be interested. Finally, anyone who has an interest in working on defined environmentally related projects should consider joining. [TEA is a two-way street – I would highly advocate for people who are currently in environmental professions to reach out and join us. They can bring their skills and knowledge and they would benefit by being able to network with other members and speakers and events that we sponsor. We’re just going to grow and as the growing goes so goes the network and the access.
It’s only going to get better so jump on the bandwagon now, right?
It works for them as well as TEA. The event that we held at the beginning of May with P.J. Simmons (who co-wrote The Green to Gold Business Playbook) — that type of event has value to anybody in the environmental field because it ties interest in the environment with those of business and demonstrates thatthe two are not mutually exclusive.
What do you think the TEA mascot should be?
A green elephant!