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Madhavi Venkatesan named Massachusetts Woman of the Year

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Photograph of Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan with a quote from her,

Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan, Associate Teaching Professor of Economics at Northeastern University, has been named USA TODAY’s Massachusetts Woman of the Year for 2024. This recognition highlights Dr. Venkatesan’s remarkable contributions to sustainability and environmental advocacy, particularly her efforts in reducing single-use plastics.

As the founder and executive director of Sustainable Practices, Dr. Venkatesan has been instrumental in leading successful initiatives aimed at eliminating plastic waste across Cape Cod and beyond.

In January, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy honored Sustainable Practices. “I am pleased to confer upon you this Governor’s Citation in recognition of your steadfast and noble efforts to successfully advocate and implement a municipal plastic bottle ban across all 15 towns on Cape Cod,” Healy said of Sustainable Practices, “and your continued commitment to push for a retail single-use plastic water bottle ban and single-use plastic takeout container ban throughout the Cape and the Commonwealth.”

Dr. Venkatesan’s commitment to the importance of critical engagement in addressing environmental challenges serves as a beacon of inspiration to her students. In the course that she created, Economics of Sustainability, many of her students were authors or co-authors on articles that have appeared in Sustainability and Climate Change, Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education, Sustainability on University Campuses: Learning, Skills Building and Best Practices and chapters in Educating the Sustainability Leaders of the FutureDealing with Socially Responsible Consumers: Studies in Marketing, and  Educating the Sustainability Leaders of the Future.

In addition, Dr. Venkatesan and Sustainable U Productions, a Northeastern University Student Initiative, collaborated with the goal of portraying important environmental issues in film and emphasizing the importance of individual action. Their first film, Plastic Linings, a short documentary all about single-use coffee cups, is available on YouTube at

Congratulations to Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan on this well-deserved honor. Her passion, dedication, and advocacy are a testament to the positive impact individuals can make in creating a more sustainable and equitable world.

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