Alumni Spotlight

Susan Jezsik Varlamoff ’71

Susan Jezsik Varlamoff ’71

Susan Jezsik Varlamoff ’71

After graduating from Immaculata University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in biology, Susan Jezsik Varlamoff’s life took some unexpected turns.

“My passion for environmental protection began when I led a community effort to prevent the expansion of a toxic landfill two blocks from my home [in Eden Prairie, Minnesota],” she stated. She spent eight years organizing a grassroots effort to block the expansion that culminated in the creation of a nonprofit organization that eventually won the battle.

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With that experience under her belt, Varlamoff and her family moved to Georgia, and she found herself working with former State Senator David Scott to prevent the expansion of a landfill in a poor African-American neighborhood. Building on the skills she had learned in Minnesota—fundraising, lobbying, testifying in court, appearing on television, and making connections within the environmental community—Varlamoff was now serving as an expert witness before the Georgia House and Senate Natural Resources Committee. For the second time in her life, she was instrumental in preventing toxic waste from infiltrating a neighborhood.

After 18 years at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Varlamoff retired as the Director of the Office of Environmental Sciences. Currently, she is assisting the Archdiocese of Atlanta in implementing the Action Plan for Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical, Laudato Si. Varlamoff’s Laudato Si Action Plan is now being used by Catholic churches throughout the country and Australia and even by other religious groups, including Baptist, Methodist and Jewish.

Varlamoff is the author of two books, The Polluters, A Community Fights Back and Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast. She and her husband Ivan have three grown children and live in Lilburn, GA, where they are parishioners of St. John Neumann Parish.

In October 2017, Susan Varlamoff will be awarded the 2017 Amethyst Award at the Immaculata University Awards Gala. The Amethyst Award honors alumni in recognition of their outstanding contributions to or achievement in a church, community, or professional activity.

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