Uma Moriarity Seeks To ‘Do Good’ In Board Of Trustees Campaign

Uma Moriarity never imagined she’d find herself campaigning for a seat on Penn State’s Board of Trustees.

A 2014 Smeal and Schreyer Honors College graduate, Moriarity knew her love and involvement in Happy Valley would extend beyond her time as an undergraduate and master’s of accounting student, but perhaps never in the role as a Board of Trustees candidate.

All of that changed when Penn State Forward reached out to Moriarity last year. Penn State Forward was established in 2021 to recruit “young, forward-thinking candidates” to run for Board of Trustees seats that highlight values of inclusivity and sustainability. That platform and those ideals proved to be exactly what Moriarity needed to get on board.

“The Penn State Forward team reached out to me last year to talk about potentially running and I literally thought it was spam. I was like ‘there’s no way,’ and I literally deleted the email,” Moriarity said.

Luckily, after a follow-up email, Moriarity soon realized that her postgraduate work and the Penn State Forward platform aligned more than she could’ve predicted.

After exiting Happy Valley with dual degrees in finance and accounting and a master’s in accounting, Moriarity landed at CenterSquare, a $14 billion real estate firm where she operates as a senior investment strategist. Her main focus is working to understand the impact of CenterSquare’s investments through an environmental and social lens.

“You think about the way that there’s a lot of intersections of social justice, real estate development, and a lot of different nuances in which you can create positive social impacts by the way that you build and develop spaces,” Moriarity said of her work. “Those are the types of things that I think about from the environmental and social side and implement that across all of our $14 billion that we invest in.”

Now, after working with CenterSquare for nearly six years, Moriarity hopes to add another achievement to her résumé: a seat on the Board of Trustees.

Along with Penn State Forward running mates Ali Krieger and Melinda Kuritzky, Moriarity’s individual focus will specialize in sustainability, long-term fiscal health, and financial transparency.

“I have spent my career…really understanding the kind of nitty gritties of complex, financial situations,” Moriarity explained. “So I think there’s a lot of work to be done to see ways in which you can actually optimize your operations, how you can make sure you’re generating revenues.”

As an environmentally-focused candidate, Moriarity discussed the ways that Penn State can improve its enrollment and consideration of a climate-forward generation, maximize its physical footprint, and save upward of $15 million by way of more efficient resource utilization.

She expects that as Penn State continues to move toward its net-zero emissions target, the university’s donations and enrollments will directly increase as a result.

“There’s a lot of research out there that has shown that students are increasingly enrolling in colleges that align with their values,” Moriarity said. “Climate action is very high on the list of priorities as it relates to values for a lot of the younger generation.”

If given a seat on the board, Moriarity plans to dig into Penn State’s financials to do what she’s done her entire career with CenterSquare and work to create investment and environmental strategy. Moreover, Moriarity emphasized the struggle she experienced when first trying to get an understanding of the university’s finances.

She plans to uplift financial clarity to ensure that all of Penn State’s stakeholders are granted the information to make informed decisions regarding the budget and administration.

“When there’s a lack of transparency, there’s effectively no way that you can really hold people accountable,” Moriarity said. “…When you’re able to put the dollars and cents to why doing good business is good business, a lot of people listen.”

Because of her involvement with Schreyer, THON, and Smeal throughout her time as an undergraduate, Moriarity fostered the skills that allowed her to succeed as an investment strategist and Board of Trustees candidate.

Moriarity was involved in the creation of Schreyer’s THON organization and watched her influence unfold firsthand.

“A lot of what [I] did had a very direct impact [on] the organization and I could kind of see what [I] was doing was creating some sort of change,” Moriarity said. “I think that general concept of creating impact, that’s super important to me.”

Moriarity hopes to earn the opportunity to create an impact on the Penn State community as a trustee by upholding the importance of sustainability and transparency.

“Understanding the business case for doing good is something that I can really bring to the board,” Moriarity said.

Voting for this year’s trustee election will close on May 4. Eligible alumni can request ballots through this online form.

Editor’s note: Moriarity’s interview is the first in a multi-part series that aims to feature alumni running for open seats on the Board of Trustees. Onward State does not, and will not, endorse any candidate(s) in this election. Check out our site to read more about the seven remaining candidates vying for spots on the board throughout this year’s election cycle.

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About the Author

Keeley Lamm

Keeley is a junior journalism major from Richmond, Virginia, and is Onward State's managing editor. She also talks about awesome stuff on our podcast, Podward State. Keeley is a lover of grilled cheese and Kevin Jonas. If you'd like to share your thoughts on the superior Jonas Brother, feel free to contact her on Twitter @keeleylammm or send your best joke to her email [email protected].

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