“I’m very passionate about how we can reduce our impact on the environment, improve our society and make it more equitable overall,” said Sydney Thomas, a Challenge Detroit fellow at DTE Energy.

Sydney’s passion for the environment is apparent in her studies and professional experience. She studied environmental biology at Michigan State University before getting her master’s degree in environmental sustainability in Scotland, a country known for excelling in sustainable practices. When she returned to the United States, she worked for EcoWorks, a Detroit-based nonprofit focused on creating more equitable and climate-resilient communities. Then she joined the Challenge Detroit program, which matches local talent with corporations and nonprofits, where she was paired with DTE.

Sydney began working at DTE in September of 2020. In her current role she project manages the company’s environmental sustainability and governance (ESG) reporting initiatives, which outline programs and initiatives DTE leads and participates in that make positive impacts on customers, communities, employees and the planet.

“I studied ESG in my master’s program so it’s really exciting to apply what I’ve learned at  a company that’s committed to this space,” said Sydney.

Sydney works on a variety of other projects like Civic 50, a collaboration of business units across the company to inform customers and stakeholders on what DTE is doing in their backyard. From Connected Futures to Low-Income programming, she’s learned what’s important to DTE’s customers and communities. She also works with three other DTE Challenge fellows on a diversity, equity and inclusion-focused hiring pilot for her department and is part of the environmental justice team. She works at DTE four days per week then spends her final day with Challenge Detroit, collaborating with other fellows on community projects supporting local nonprofits. The projects are diverse, from supporting Detroit’s greenspaces to improving access to IT training programs.

“My hope for the future is to continue working in corporate sustainability to help large organizations reduce their impact on the planet and help support the communities they serve and operate in,” said Sydney.