De Leon aims to employ the analytical and data skills she gains from the EMP to enhance her leadership skills, pivot into Environmental Social Governance (ESG), and impact how companies approach environmental policies.
Headshot of Elena De Leon
Glenda De Leon

Originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, Glenda De Leon moved to Texas at age 18 to pursue an undergraduate degree in finance from Texas Christian University (TCU) and then a master’s degree in engineering management from Southern Methodist University (SMU). Residing in the US exposed De Leon to different points of view and career paths, motivating her to continue her professional development in the US.

“After graduating from SMU in 2011, I spent the next eight years working towards earning a green card.” De Leon said her OPT (Optional Practical Training) from her STEM degree at SMU provided her leeway in finding opportunities at companies that offered H1B visas, solidifying her path towards a green card. She took engineering and environmental consulting roles performing air quality permitting and compliance services for multiple industries, but said the role was not her passion. “Project scopes felt limiting: I wanted to move into the energy industry and identify actual problems behind-the-scenes of air quality compliance and regulations. Securing a green card allowed me to move into this industry and do more than just  air permitting and emission calculations, since I wanted to help with solving problems and

When De Leon obtained her green card in 2019, she felt an immense sense of freedom. “I was no longer limited in where I could live and work,” she said.

Soon after, De Leon began a new role as an Air Quality Consultant for AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm. She worked on project management to help clients with their air permitting and internal audits. In 2021, De Leon moved to her current position in the energy industry as a
Senior Air Quality Specialist with Scout Energy Partners. “My past experience gave me the background and knowledge to provide recommendations on how to reduce emissions and become an environmental policy advisor.

“While I continued to evaluate the consequences caused by air pollutant emissions in my new position, I also saw an opportunity for growth—to become the person relied upon for the environmental policy aspects. My current role grew to evaluate both the environmental responsibility and economic incentives for companies and investors, and I hope to further my leadership role so I can clearly and effectively demonstrate to stakeholders that proactive compliance with environmental policy improves our standing with investors and communities where we do business. The leadership team at Scout Energy Partners agreed that the additional education I sought will be a benefit to the team, so I began my program search in earnest.

“I had already done a full-time master’s degree, so a part-time program where I could continue working while learning about a new field and enhancing my current skill set simultaneously was very appealing,” said De Leon.

Harris was always at the top of De Leon’s list, and the part-time Evening Master’s Program became the clearest choice after taking a sample class in social capital from Senior Lecturer John Burrows. “I want to lead change and be able to show investors how the long-term benefits of environmental policies will impact them. When I saw the passion of the professor in negotiations, as well as in other policy-related fields, I wished I could have been at Harris sooner! I am excited to gain the skills that will prepare me for the next step in my career—shifting into policy and leadership roles in the future.”