Alumni Impact Story: Joseph Parisi, ’10 – Jefferson’s M.S. in Sustainable Design Program

Alumni Impact Story: Joseph Parisi, ’10 – Jefferson’s M.S. in Sustainable Design Program

MSSD Class 2010
Job Title: Sustainability Programs Manager
Company or Organization: TD Bank


Joe Parisi has been working with TD Bank since 2016, and has spent the past 2 years serving as their Sustainability Programs Manager. In that role, he works in the bank’s Enterprise Real Estate division to further develop TD’s renewable energy strategy, wellness design strategy, waste diversion program, green purchasing and green leasing practices and other sustainability initiatives which will help the bank to achieve its goal of improving the health of its employees, customers, the environment and the communities in which it operates.  Prior to joining TD Bank, Joe served in a similar role for 6 years with the US General Services Administration Public Buildings Service – a position he earned right after graduating from the MSSD program.  Joe also teaches a ‘Sustainability in Life and Work’ course as an adjunct professor at Walnut Hill College.

MSSD Background

Why did you come to the MSSD Program?
I had a mechanical engineering background and had been working with the Federal Government as a Project Engineer.  I was lucky enough to work on a rooftop photovoltaic installation project and shortly after that a vegetative roof project.  I had always had an interest in the environment, but this work sparked a new passion in me.  I also attended the USGBC Greenbuild Conference for the first time in 2007.  It was then that I determined I wanted to pursue a degree in sustainable design and make this the main focus of my career.  I began researching graduate programs and found the MSSD program at Philadelphia University.

What Stood out for you in the Program?
The flexibility and convenience of the program really appealed to me.  I was not in a position to quit my job and go back to school full time; the MSSD part time program was a perfect fit for me.  Additionally, as an engineer I was looking for a program somewhat out of my area of expertise and the good reputation of the Philadelphia University architecture program intrigued me as a way of stretching a bit out of my comfort zone.  The fact that I was already based in Philadelphia and would not have to relocate was also a bonus.

How has it helped you achieve your goals?
I earned my degree at a time when not many people in the industry had a formal academic education in sustainability.  The working experience I was gaining while I was in the program was very valuable, but having the MSSD degree on my resume absolutely set me apart as a uniquely qualified candidate.  Within two months after graduating I earned a promotion with the Government to Regional Sustainability Program Manager on the GSA Mid Atlantic region, overseeing the sustainability of over 90 federal buildings.  The job posting for that role stated “sustainability degree preferred,” and I was the only interviewee who had that qualification.  I was able to beat out professionals with more years of experience than me to earn my dream job!  Over my 6 years in that role, I progressed to the National Sustainability Program Manager out of DC and I attribute that in large part to the MSSD program.  When I opted to move from Government to the private sector, my MSSD was also a huge help – this time in part to the networking abilities that the MSSD program has offered me over the years.  Unbeknownst to me, a fellow alum provided a reference for me at a networking event to my new employer at TD – helping to solidify my spot at the bank.  It’s also incredibly helpful in this field to have alumni connections in various areas of sustainability: design, real estate management, non profit, waste diversion, city government, etc.

Alumni Impact

How have you improved people’s experience of the world around them?
My work at TD has focused not only on environmental health but also on the health of the building occupant.  Through focusing on WELL certification and health and wellness in design, I have helped improve the air and water quality for hundreds of people’s work places.  I have also developed and taught numerous training seminars with the Government and with TD Bank, introducing people to sustainability and helping them incorporate it into their day to day jobs and life outside of work.  For nearly three years I’ve served on the board of Green Building United, chairing the membership engagement committee.  In this role I have been able to support additional sustainability educational efforts in the region and have helped the organization rebrand and refocus its efforts beyond the scope of any one specific sustainability scorecard.