Our Story

Building solutions in the South.

Our Story

The Southeastern U.S. is no different than the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with the problems associated with climate change. Extreme heat, rising seas, strengthening storms, flooding, drought, and crop loss are just some of the challenges we face.

The Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SSDN) addresses these problems through sustainability efforts — work that creates a healthy, clean, and more stable environment for current and future generations.

We connect local government sustainability professionals throughout the region to accelerate, scale, and implement sustainable best practices so that communities are equipped to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Core Values


Our members believe they can leverage greater change through collaboration that scales the individual work they do. Collaboration is also promoted through SSDN’s member-driven processes that drive how the network operates and develops. Collaboration allows us to strengthen the network, our impact, and our communities.

Authentic Relationships

We value authentic relationships that are predicated on shared experiences that develop trust, honesty, and integrity. Members’ relationships are rooted in respect for each other’s ideas and perspectives. SSDN believes that if members trust one another, they have the ability to work together more effectively and collaboratively.


We believe the Southeast can become a region that is equitable, sustainable, and resilient, but that this change will occur as a result of a transformational process. We believe that this transformation will require new and ongoing engagement of all community members, especially those that have often been excluded.


We value and lift up diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and knowledge among our members as they strengthen our network and the field. SSDN also values and acknowledges the multicultural communities that our members serve and lifts up advocates for this diverse community expertise whenever possible


We recognize that racial and ethnic inequalities have been at the forefront of the inequities in the Southeast, and have been central to the way our region has developed. Therefore, we put these inequities at the forefront of our work, and by doing so, we work to ensure all people have genuine opportunities to thrive.


Our member-driven network creates an inclusive environment and celebrates multiple approaches and points of view. We seek opportunities to provide access to those with limited resources, traditionally oppressed people, and people of color. All SSDN members are included in the network’s strategy and program development, activities, and improvement.

Equity in Practice

SSDN members believe rooting sustainability work in equity is essential to seeing success in both solving the climate crisis and dismantling inequity. Our members approach addressing climate change by centering people and their experiences, and promote equal opportunity in the benefits from climate action. As a network, SSDN commits to:

  1. Creating a safe space for members to learn about equity and the intersection with sustainability and resilience practices. Peer learning will provide a space where members can be open and candid as they center on equity and the intersection of sustainability, climate, equity, environmental justice, and resilience work.
  2. Supporting our members’ individual equity work. SSDN will develop the network’s programs and direction with the goal of providing members with knowledge and context about the historic and current inequitable systems that exploit both people and the environment.
  3. SSDN members and leaders commit to reinforcing the intersectionality of equity and sustainability work, and acknowledging the power structures rooted in inequities, by offering examples of best practices happening in local communities.
  4. SSDN leadership commits to creating growth and leadership opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) practitioners within the network and across the region by supporting, highlighting, and developing the leadership of SSDN’s BIPOC members and communities.
  5. Structuring SSDN’s decisions, resources, and partnerships to support our equity statement, principles, and core values. SSDN will use its equity commitments to inform staffing, programming, and budget decisions for both the organization and the funds it makes available to members. The network will promote and build partnerships that support members’ understanding and growth of equity principles. We support and encourage members in their journeys to build relationships outside of the network with diverse groups of stakeholders.
  6. Accelerating adoption of equity values and commitments in our field of practice. SSDN will use our organizational structure to set an example of equity work for our community of practice through peer learning.
  7. Creating an inclusive culture. SSDN will create spaces where members, staff, and partners feel welcome to participate fully with their identities, experiences, and positions. SSDN will continue to invest in the growth of SSDN’s leadership’s knowledge and skills around addressing the intersections of structural inequalities and environmental degradation.
  8. Being accountable to our principles. SSDN will evaluate and report on how we are living up to our explicitly stated equity principles and our opportunities to do better. We will regularly assess SSDN’s messaging, recruitment tactics, decision-making structure, internal practices and culture to ensure our network operations reflect our core values.

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