Women & Business Profile: Joylette Portlock, Ph.D.

“A sustainable future is possible if we work together to build it.”

Final 230522 Pghmag Wib Joylette Dsc 5536rJoylette Portlock, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Sustainable Pittsburgh

It’s not often that Joylette Portlock describes herself as a business woman. Her current role as the executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh follows an extensive career in science; she earned a doctorate in genetics from Stanford University. Still, Portlock’s strengths as a problem solver and bridge builder have helped her in many contexts, the business world included.

Sustainable Pittsburgh aims to make southwestern Pennsylvania a healthier and more equitable place to live by providing local companies and communities with resources and thought leadership on environmental stewardship, social equity and economic development. Sustainable Pittsburgh helps leaders take actions that benefit both their businesses and the people living here.

“The business case for sustainability has never been stronger in terms of cost savings, customer and employee engagement and approval, and competitive advantage—so it is true that a sustainable business strategy is a valuable, important product,” Portlock says.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Sustainable Pittsburgh has partnered with nearly a thousand businesses, communities and organizations across the state. Since joining in 2018, Portlock has helped the nonprofit organization lean into its role as a support system for the local economy and for businesses and organizations navigating complex issues such as carbon reduction, social equity and developing a clean energy workforce. Her success at meeting these goals has not gone unnoticed—she’s been named one of Pittsburgh’s Power 100 by both City and State and the Pittsburgh Business Times for multiple years in a row and was recognized as one of New Pittsburgh Courier’s Women of Excellence in 2019.

Portlock encourages other women in business to “be bold,” and says, “Don’t let anyone else define you in your own mind. Give yourself the grace you would give a loved one,” she says.

“I’ve been grateful to work with dozens of business leaders through the CEOs for Sustainability executive network, which Sustainable Pittsburgh hosts, and to grow our work with restaurants, small businesses, and workplaces of all kinds through the sustainability designation programs that we have designed and manage,” Portlock says. “A sustainable future is possible if we work together to build it.”

For more than 10 years, Pittsburgh Magazine has spotlighted exceptional businesswomen within our pages and at quarterly networking events. Join us for a vibrant conversation with our four inspiring honorees and a keynote speaker at our Women & Business Awards.

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