Shane McLendon / Unsplash

Susan Boyle

M.R.P. '82

Shane McLendon / Unsplash

A Mediator for Environmental Cleanup

By Anthea Fernandes, M.R.P. '21

A senior consultant at GEI Consultants, Susan Boyle (M.R.P. '82) has four decades of experience in consulting and policy development for hazardous site remediation and brownfield redevelopment in the Northeastern U.S.

Boyle took her first planning courses as an environmental studies major at Binghamton University. She had been contemplating going to law school, but these courses prompted her to consider a career in planning. She applied to law and planning schools and ultimately chose to pursue the latter at Cornell's Department of City and Regional Planning (CRP).

Boyle, a work-study candidate, learned several research skills while working at Cornell's Mann Library. She says the interdisciplinary educational approach brought her to Cornell, while her job as a research librarian added to her experience in research, data analysis, and writing. With an environmental emphasis, Boyle found a mentor in CRP Professor Richard Booth, who taught environmental law courses in AAP. She completed an internship with the U.S. EPA, which led to her thesis on siting hazardous waste facilities, and eventually her first job with a county government in New York State.

Two women and a man pose for a photo

Susan Boyle (center), photographed with Sharon Mackey-McGee (left) and Angelo Lampousis (right) of the City College of New York, moderated the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast's 2019 April Hot Topics Event.

Boyle began her New Jersey environmental career as the assistant executive director for the independent Hazardous Waste Facilities Siting Commission.  At that time, she worked closely with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to analyze and publish the state’s data on hazardous waste generation and disposal. The Commission's reports provided insight into waste generation and projected need for commercial treatment and disposal capacity. The Commission's efforts also started the debate in New Jersey about the benefits of remediating and reusing brownfield properties rather than developing open space for industrial use.  The data also influenced private companies to minimize their waste streams and influenced the U.S. EPA and state governments to assess whether there was sufficient hazardous waste treatment and disposal capacity nationally. 

Boyle then joined the NJDEP, where she guided innocent purchasers of brownfield properties to avail themselves of state incentives and liability protections before remediating and redeveloping the properties. Throughout her tenure, she brought about incredible regulatory frameworks for site revitalization and management of brownfield redevelopment in New Jersey and rose to the position of assistant commissioner for site remediation.

Along the way, Boyle spent hours at lengthy public hearings and meetings as part of the contentious nature of the planning process. "It's important to hear from all the stakeholders," Boyle says. "I think it's really important to hear from all of them in the same room." She created policy and program solutions to previously intractable problems, including innovative liability protection for property purchasers. She managed an innovative program that funded communities proposed for facility siting to conduct studies to make a case before administrative and judicial reviews. 

After a long-standing career with the State of New Jersey and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Boyle joined GEI Consultants Inc. She emphasizes the need for private-sector folks "to spend time with regulatory folks," and gives kudos to GEI for hiring her. At GEI, she now helps clients through site remediation, redevelopment implementation and funding, and liability management processes.

As a highly regarded expert who worked in both the public and private sector, Boyle is a champion of diversity in the workplace and a connector of people — especially as a mentor to young women in the field. Additionally, she serves as the contracted Executive Director of the New Jersey Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Association, the New York City Brownfield Partnership, and the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast. Boyle has been recognized for her immense contributions to environmental planning professionals and influence on communities. She received the New Jersey Society of Women Environmental Professionals Growing Great Women in the Garden State Award in 2019 and was named one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs of New Jersey in 2015. 

Dedicated to developing future professionals, Boyle has been commended for her work in helping to create online training, directing on-site technical mentoring and presentations at in-person programs, and vetting environmental courses to include site remediation and brownfield development. She is especially proud that her work with the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast in developing graduate and undergraduate courses on brownfield redevelopment is being adopted by academic institutions and hopes to see more schools pick up the classes. 

Offering a word of advice and caution for students, Boyle says policy development takes a long time. 

"It's not something that you can snap your finger and have done immediately," she says, as the process involves a lot of tweaking to consider different ways of looking at issues and arriving at solutions. She added that developing "good policy with good stakeholder processes is incredibly labor-intensive, but it's better in the long run."


Selected Works

Photo collage of a construction site

Jet grout barrier wall installation in 2021.

Grout wall installation

A group of adults pose for a photo

Boyle and colleagues from the Department of Environmental Protection at the New Jersey Society of Women Environmental Professionals Growing Great Women event in 2019, which honored Boyle. 

Boyle and Department of Environmental Protection colleagues

Cover of Fordham Environmental Law Journal

P. E. Bross, S. B. Boyle, and T. Smith, "The Greening of New Jersey's 'Brownfields' – As Viewed by the Department of Environmental Protection," Fordham Environmental Law Journal 9, no. 3 (1998): 541.

"The Greening of New Jersey's 'Brownfields'"

A group of women pose for a photo.

Boyle (fourth from the left) posed with other female members of the New Jersey Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Association (LSRPA), which found in a survey that only 21 percent of the industry in New Jersey is female. 

Boyle and female colleagues in site remediation