Career Trail Runs Full Circle for SCA Alumnus & Former Cleveland Sustainability Chief

(ARLINGTON, VA) March 10, 2021 — The Student Conservation Association (SCA), a national leader in youth service and stewardship, has named Matt Gray as Senior Vice President of Programs. For Gray, who served in multiple SCA field positions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the appointment brings his career full circle and creates opportunities to support untold others on their own professional pathway.

Gray recently held the office of Chief of Sustainability for the City of Cleveland. During his seven years with the City, Gray convened 90 organizations to co-create the Cleveland Climate Action Plan, which won the 2019 American Planning Association award for “best community sustainability or resiliency plan.” He also co-authored The Cleveland Tree Plan to grow and maintain the city’s urban canopy and he led Sustainable Cleveland 2019, a sweeping initiative engaging 15,000+ people to co-create a thriving and resilient Cleveland.

“Over the past two decades,” SCA CEO and President Stephanie Meeks stated, “Matt has amassed an exceptional record of achievement spanning sustainability, climate, and conservation initiatives at the federal, municipal, and community levels. As SCA redoubles its commitment to creating green jobs for city youth and addressing climate change and environmental injustice, I am confident we will benefit from Matt’s leadership and experience.

“With 70% of our alumni currently working or studying in the environmental field, SCA is delighted to welcome back such an accomplished alumnus to fill this important position.”

Gray originally served with SCA in 1997 as a high school student who previously had never even pitched a tent. Yet over five weeks that summer, working in Indiana with seven other teens from around the country, Gray says “I built trails, learned countless life skills, and came away profoundly impacted by spending time in – and providing service to – the natural world.” 

Four years later, Gray returned to SCA to lead another crew along the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, and subsequently led four community crews in and around Pittsburgh.  

From there, Gray went on to become a Fulbright Fellow with the U.S. Department of State in Mauritius, a Presidential Management Fellow with the U.S. Department of Energy, and an energy management consultant with Accenture, the global management consultancy. Most recently, he led Graybridge Solutions LLC, advising a range of government and nonprofit clients on sustainability matters.

“The power of shared ownership, the imperative of building trust, management by influence– I have practiced these and other SCA lessons throughout my career,” Gray says. “I am delighted to be back with this extraordinary organization and look forward to advancing our mission of building resilient communities and the next generation of conservation leaders.”

Gray holds a dual BS/BA (Industrial Engineering and Anthropology) from the University of Pittsburgh and earned his Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University. 

Kathy Baugh, who had been serving as SCA’s interim SVP of Programs, will return to her former position as SCA national director of AmeriCorps and Special Initiatives.

About the Student Conservation Association

The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s oldest and largest youth conservation organization. SCA conserves lives and transforms lands by co-powering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and seven in 10 of alumni worldwide are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more, visit

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