Tommy Vitolo ’00 Combats Climate Change – One Community at a Time

When Tommy Vitolo ‘00 is not identifying opportunities to reduce air pollution, carbon emissions, and electricity bills as an associate for Synapse Energy Economics, he’s writing legislation for local government to use green cleaning products and prohibit the sale of tobacco on educational campuses in his role as a Brookline Town Meeting member.

Tommy Vitolo '00 speaks to Park Scholars and fellow alumni at the Park Alumni Reunion.Vitolo earned bachelor’s degrees in applied mathematics, computer science, and economics while at NC State. He then traveled to Ireland to pursue a master’s degree in financial and industrial mathematics as a Mitchell Scholar at Dublin City University.

Tommy Vitolo speaks to Park Scholars and fellow alumni at the Park Alumni Reunion.

After a stint as a research assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Vitolo completed his Ph.D. in systems engineering at Boston University and soon began work with Synapse Energy Economics.

“The electric grid is a complex system, full of problems in optimization,” says Vitolo. “When I asked future colleagues in the electricity industry where I could best apply my analytical skills to maximize my impact in combating climate change, Synapse was consistently recommended.”

Vitolo’s energy-efficient way of thinking at Synapse also seems to spill over into his role in local government. Recently, Vitolo drafted legislation calling on his town of Brookline, Massachusetts to study how they can incorporate solar photovoltaic panels whenever a town-owned roof is built or renovated. His impact is not only seen on the rooftops, but also on the ground; following Vitolo’s lead, Brookline plans to install bicycle lanes on its roads during the next few years.

His drive to serve his community is evident not only in his ongoing position with Brookline Town Meeting, but in his desire to simply improve the lives of those around him.

“I also perform constituent services for my neighbors. When a street light is out, when a pothole forms, when a landlord isn’t repairing a tenant’s stove, a neighbor might call me,” says Vitolo. “Because I’ve been involved with town government for a number of years, I’m able to contact the appropriate town staff member or enforcement agency to help resolve the problem.”

Vitolo credits the Park Scholarships program with contributing to his present outlook on the world around him.

“The Park Scholarships experience allowed me to understand that my lifetime objective is to make this world a better place. I focus on making things better globally at my job, as I work to retire coal-fired power plants and encourage the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency,” says Vitolo. “I focus on making things better locally by serving as a Town Meeting member and a constable, working to enact laws which make our community healthier. I focus on making my family better by reading books and playing games and building with blocks each and every day with my son, alongside my wife.”

Story by Chad Smith

posted 2013.05.28