Sarah Bobrow-Williams began as Sustainable Business and Communities MA faculty at Goddard in 2008 and helped to found the MA in Social Innovation & Sustainability. Throughout her career Sarah has worked with community-based initiatives, institutions and local and regional coalitions and collaboratives to establish cooperatives and regenerative economies in marginalized communities and to build resources and support for related economic, human and environmental rights and community leadership. Her expertise spans community/regional planning; business planning; organizational/ nonprofit development; worker ownership; land retention; cultural ecology; sustainable agriculture, permaculture and natural resource conservation; local and regional food security and systems, and product and market research and development. In addition to her planning firm and serving on a number of boards, Sarah has worked for the Samuel Rubin Foundation, New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund, New Mexico Community Foundation, Ganados del Valle, Penn Center, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Southern Rural Development Initiative, Children’s Defense Fund/Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice.
MA in Community and Regional Planning, University of New Mexico
BA in Politics and English, New York University
Certificate Economic Development Finance, National Development Council
Youth Development Certificate, Georgia Southern University
Areas of Expertise
- African American Land Tenure
- Business development and finance
- Climate Mitigation
- Community economic development; alternative economies
- Cooperative development/worker ownership
- Community and regional plannings
- Cultural ecology
- Food security
- Leadership development
- Movement building, grassroots organizing and activism
- Nonprofit administration
- Organizational development
- Racial, social and environmental justice
- Social innovation and sustainability
- Sustainable rural and agricultural development
- Systems thinking
Drawing on over 30 years of experience as a community planner, program director, grant-maker, facilitator, educator and economic developer my work is about cooperatively developing, evolving and innovating equitable and generative communities, places, livelihoods, businesses and organizations. I approach this “community building” process through an intersectional lens of racial, social, and environmental justice that holds creativity and artistic expression and reverence for human and natural life as essential.
I see Goddard’s MA in Social Innovation & Sustainability degree program as a space to deepen the scholarship that informs new possibilities and to envision and inform new liberatory narratives. I view social innovation and sustainability as a collectively generated process emerging along a continuum of attempts to live in a socially and environmentally conscious way. For me true “sustainability” honors the real essence and poetics of people and place and the knowledge passed down through generations that finds its way into landscapes and into measured and thoughtful ways of cooperating that are rooted in an understanding of human and natural systems and mutual dependence.
I’ve spent most of my adult life working in rural communities although I was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. My commitment to ideas of social justice grew from life experiences and the understanding that race and class influence our choices, experience and opportunities. My reverence for “the land” came later, not only from exploring natural landscapes, but from working with rural communities and cultures that revealed to me the value of community, meaningful and collective work and cooperation and livelihoods that connect us to essence of life and to each other.
A collection of mentors, friendly ghosts and committed community activists, travel with me on my work and life journey; cheering me on, keeping me going and most importantly and hopefully, keeping me honest.
Affiliation Goddard Graduate Institute
Individualized Master of Arts
MA Social Innovation & Sustainability
Location Plainfield, Vermont