Salomon "Sol" Salinas

Salomon "Sol" Salinas

Salomon "Sol" Salinas

Salomon "Sol" Salinas, BA Psychology, BS Marketing '85, was honored at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences 2022 Community and Catalyst awards ceremony in December, and appropriately so, as he not only is a catalyst for climate change, but a global leader and driving force behind a sustainability revolution.

Salinas was born in Managua, Nicaragua and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of nine. He spent most of his time playing soccer and had dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. He continued his love for the sport as a member of Mason’s Men’s Soccer team. He took an introductory-level psychology class, loved it, and decided to pair his passion for psychology with marketing, taking an extra semester to obtain his dual degrees in psychology and marketing.

He started his career working for an advertising agency. In 1989, a group of scientists hired the agency to develop the first ever educational campaign on the greenhouse effect.  Salinas and his team were tasked with creating a public service announcement, which ended up going viral. (Greenhouse Project, World Resources Institute).

This experience changed his life. Salinas became passionate about finding innovative ways to address climate change. He was hired at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he became one of the founders of the ENERGY STAR program. His challenge was to educate the public on the reduction of carbon emissions: “How do you motivate individuals around a concerning topic they don’t know about or understand the impact of?” He was able to draw upon the knowledge he learned in his psychology classes (he still has his books!) to understand how people think and what motivates them.

His campaign resulted in the reduction of four billion metric tons of carbon emissions. But at the same time the Amazon Rainforest, the “lungs of the earth,” are emitting four billion tons of carbon due to deforestation, erasing all of the progress made. “In fighting the climate crisis, you take one step forward and two steps back,” he said. “That is why it is my mission to make a systemic shift.”

After leaving ENERGY STAR, he was appointed assistant office director at EPA's Office of International Affairs, where he headed various U.S.-led multilateral partnerships related to global climate change, clean air, water, sanitation, and solid and nuclear waste.  

In his current role as the Global Executive Vice President for the Capgemini Group, he educates company leaders about sustainability innovation. “Everyone is a stakeholder and needs to take a stake in improving the world,” he said. “In order to become net-zero, companies and individuals alike need to give more than they take. I work with companies that have the mobility to make an impact across their manufacturing which directly impacts consumers, so that consumers only have sustainable choices.”

“Humans consume twice as many resources as the earth can replenish,” said Salinas. “Time is running out, our overshoot day is coming. Help make a radical and tangible difference in the preservation of this planet. Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Salinas feels fortunate to have a successful career that ties directly to his studies at Mason. “I tell my kids and would tell any Mason student: it is very hard to succeed at anything unless you truly love it.” That same passion he first experienced in his introductory psychology class has carried through to his passion for saving the planet.

Originally published in the CHSS Annual Report 2021-22