Sue Pasieka ’85

Sue Pasieka ’85DEGREE: B.A. in economics

JOB TITLE: Vice president strategic alliances, Americas Ocean Watch

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: I have so many great memories from my time at Trinity. Most important were the great lifelong friends I have made. And one of the most unique and memorable experiences was the May 1983 Spring Weekend U2 concert where we were part of what felt like an intimate U2 concert on the science center green. Even more exciting was when we watched Bono climb atop the science building waving a flag. The concert was one of those awesome spring events at Trinity and all thanks to our classmate Daniel Green, who followed the British music scene closely and had booked them in the fall before anyone knew how amazing they would be.   

What is the mission of Americas Ocean Watch? Americas Ocean Watch will complete a circumnavigation of North and South America using the 64-foot S/V Ocean Watch, uniting experts and entrepreneurs in ocean science, education, and innovation to collect valuable data, engage in powerful storytelling, support interdisciplinary environmental problem-solving, and foster innovation and acceleration of the “blue economy.” Americas Ocean Watch is the next-generation 2022 launch voyage following our successful 2009–10 Around the Americas expedition. 

What do you do in your role there? My role includes setting our global goals and strategy as well as building alliances with multinational organizations and leading brands, technology, and governmental and media organizations. One of the most inspiring parts of my role with the expedition is witnessing the advances in ocean science that are being developed to help solve ocean climate issues around the world. These include working with organizations that are advancing ocean-issue solutions such as eDNA (environmental DNA), which is being used as a much quicker way to determine the biodiversity and health of the ocean. 

What do you enjoy most about your work? Working with Americas Ocean Watch has provided me with a view into the awesome innovative solutions being developed to help solve ocean-related problems and the entrepreneurial opportunities that exist within the blue economy, referring to the range of economic uses of ocean and coastal resources—such as energy, shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, and tourism—and including the economic benefits that may not be marketed—such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values, and biodiversity. Our expedition will be working to foster this innovation in the more than 40 port stops along our route that circumnavigates North and South America. It’s an incredibly exciting field, and I know there are many Trinity alums who are also passionate about the ocean and the blue economy, and I look forward to engaging with them in the future to help solve our climate issues. 

What challenges do you face? One of the biggest challenges I face is the continued lack of awareness on the critical nature and impact of the ocean climate crisis. One of the main goals of our expedition will be to bring ocean experiential programs through both local port programs for area students and ocean-related businesses and governments as well as virtual programming to the world. And through our planned open ocean-database platform, we will be providing all the research and virtual programming we generate—more than 660 days of content—to the world. 

How did your time at Trinity prepare you for what you do now? My coursework at Trinity provided me with important skills in the areas of problem-solving and critical thinking. And my experience working on the AIESEC [leadership organization] team at Trinity gave me real business experience working with local and global companies and as part of a team. I was able to travel to work at Barclays Bank in Pretoria, South Africa, my junior summer, which gave me incredible work and life experience.

What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? Professor Alden Gordon’s full-year “Art History” course provided an incredible exposure to the history of the arts and the relationship to world events. I would recommend art history courses to all students regardless of their major. This course gave me a completely new way to think about the world. 

Was there a professor at Trinity who was particularly influential? Professor Diane Zannoni was particularly influential to me as my economics adviser and professor. She provided a role model of women’s leadership to me as my only female professor at Trinity, which seems so hard to believe looking back now! Her enthusiasm and teaching methods gave me a very solid and practical understanding of the study of economics that has stayed with me and helped me through my career.