By Maria Cogliando, The Assessor
Colleen Kokas, Executive Vice President at Commercial Development Company, delivered the first guest lecture on the history of brownfields on February 6, 2021, to 25 graduate and undergraduate CUNY students who are enrolled in EAS 33400 (a course on Phase II environmental site assessments).
Colleen has over 30 years of experience in the remediation of contaminated sites, including project management, cleanup negotiations, funding, liability protection, cost recovery, brownfield redevelopment and sustainability. Before joining Environmental Liability Transfer, the largest purchaser of brownfield sites in North America, Colleen worked at NJ Department of Environmental Protection, where she managed a variety of programs.
Most notably, Colleen managed the Site Remediation’s financial incentive programs and its brownfield redevelopment program. She was subsequently selected to help establish NJDEP’s Sustainability and Green Energy Office advancing policies that would allow for the installation of solar energy on brownfields and other contaminated sites.
Colleen also served as NJDEP’s representative on the board of the NJ Economic Development Authority, and as Director of Water Resources Coordination overseeing the critical path necessary for the issuance of water-related permits.
Currently, Colleen serves as Executive Vice President at ELT, where she works closely with government agencies, property owners, and environmental attorneys to create new business opportunities in contaminated property acquisition. Colleen is a co-founder of the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast, and was the first person chosen for its prestigious Brownfield Person of the Year award.
She has recently authored several articles on the redevelopment of contaminated sites; these writings focus on the acquisition and redevelopment of Superfund sites, interagency cooperation, and the transformation of power plants into hubs to support offshore wind. Colleen received a B.S. in Geology and master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University. Colleen is a co-founder and board member of the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of brownfields, and to connecting and educating professionals in the brownfield community. She also serves on the NJ Business and Industry Association Energy and Environmental Policy Committee.
In 2020, Colleen was appointed by the USEPA Administrator to serve on its Environmental Finance Advisory Board. Colleen also served as USEPA Region 2 representative to the Brownfield Task Force under the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Organization (ASTSWMO), a national advisory committee to USEPA focused on improving waste programs. Additionally, Colleen served on the National Brownfield Association Advisory Board, where she provided a state government perspective on legislative, regulatory, and technical advancements for brownfields on the national level.