Tom Kelly

Thomas Kelly

Chief Sustainability Officer/Affiliate Associate Professor
Executive Director
Office: Sustainability Institute, Nesmith Hall Rm 107, Durham, NH 03824

Dr. Tom Kelly is executive director of the UNH Sustainability Institute, which he founded in 1997, and the Chief Sustainability Officer of the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Throughout his three decades of national and international work in higher education, Dr. Kelly has focused on sustainability as a transformative cultural force, and the creative process of engaging its disruptive and inspirational dynamics in education, research, and practice. He co-edited and authored "The Sustainable Learning Community: One University's Journey to the Future" (2009) a book written by more than sixty UNH faculty and staff engaged in collaborative sustainability efforts on and beyond the campus that have established UNH as one of the most innovative sustainability institutions in higher education.

Dr. Kelly’s current activities include a focus on the practice of facilitative and network leadership in developing transdisciplinary approaches to sustainability challenges. He is a founding convener of Food Solutions New England, a six-state, network working to realize a shared vision for a sustainable, regional food system. He is a co-author of A New England Food Vision, as well as the 2017 article “Equity as Common Cause: How a Sustainable Food System Network is Cultivating a Commitment to Racial Justice.” The article is published in the journal Othering and Belonging. He is also a collaborative designer and facilitator of the Food Solutions New England Network Leadership Institute and a founding convener of the New Hampshire Food Alliance. 

Dr. Kelly is a regular contributor to sustainability in higher education professional meetings and was a founding member of the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium and the Inter-institutional Network for Food and Agricultural Sustainability (INFAS). He collaborated with Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and Second Nature on curricular and pedagogical innovation through the design and facilitation of regional symposia of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and two annual curriculum convocations of the AASHE national conference. Recent invited talks include the University Alliance for Sustainability convened by the Free University of Berlin, Germany in 2017, the World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities convened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016, the 2016 conference of the International Sustainable Campus Network in Sienna, Italy, and El Encuentro Campus Sostentible in Santiago, Chile in 2015.

Dr. Kelly was a visiting scholar at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego, and a visiting professor of trans-boundary environmental issues in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands at El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico DF. From 1993-1997 he directed the Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute shaping it into a place-based, short-course that he collaborated with colleagues in Colombia and Brazil to adapt and offer similar workshops. In addition to an undergraduate and master's degree in musical composition and conducting, he holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


  • Ph.D., Int'l Environ Policy, Tufts University
  • M.A., Development Studies, Tufts University
  • M.M., Conducting, The Boston Conservatory
  • B.M., Composition, Berklee College of Music