Christy Slay brings science experience, more than $1M in grants to ASU


Christy Slay pictured standing at the opening of a cave.

In addition to her other research, Christy Slay has discovered multiple cave species in Hawaii. Photo courtesy Christy Slay

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Christy Slay, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium, is a modern-day pioneer. Her PhD in biology and research experience make her the first person with a science background to lead this science-based global organization. Slay recently transitioned her affiliation within the consortium from the University of Arkansas to Arizona State University, along with more than a million dollars of grant funding. 

The Sustainability Consortium is a member-based, university-led initiative to integrate science-based research into sustainability business practices. It is jointly housed within ASU, Wageningen University & Research and the University of Arkansas and engages more than 600 decision-makers and thought leaders across 230 organizations annually.

Slay’s projects, which will continue at ASU, include a grant with Ethical Food Initiative and the Walmart Foundation, which supports produce growers to strengthen on-farm labor practices. Another funding outlet comes from the USDA Climate-Smart Commodities Project for two different projects totaling $135 million that increase on-farm sustainability practices for underserved farmer populations and climate-smart agriculture. 

Slay is also heavily involved with the HICaves Project, a survey of cave fauna in lava tube caves in the southwest region of the Ka’ū district of the Big Island, Hawaii. Her discoveries of Hawaii cave species have led her to multiple research papers and documentary features. 

Where previous CEO’s of The Sustainability Consortium have had backgrounds in business, Slay said her science background serves her well in her current and previous positions at the consortium. 

“Historically, I’ve led much of the science work at The Sustainability Consortium, including leading the team that developed our main platform, THESIS,” Slay said. “THESIS is a science-based platform that helps retailers assess their suppliers year over year.” 

THESIS, or The Sustainability Insight System, is one of the tools used by The Sustainability Consortium’s team to achieve their goal of transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. 

Slay was formally appointed CEO of the consortium in April of 2022. She said ASU’s support for sustainability is something she plans to fully engage with as an ASU affiliate.

“Support for sustainability is so important because often it is seen as a nice-to-have, but not a must-have,” Slay said. “For an educational institution to deeply value sustainability at all levels is, unfortunately, rare.”

Slay said the support that exists for sustainability can be felt across campus, but especially at the consortium’s home base at ASU, within the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. A shared value between the laboratory and the consortium — actionable impact — makes Slay’s transition to ASU even more seamless. 

“In addition to our research, we also take that scientific knowledge and translate it for the business community to enable better decision-making around sustainability,” Slay said. “We’re conducting and synthesizing research that informs business tools, and I’m thrilled to lead this process from ASU.” 

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