Quarterly Trailblazer – Grace Barrasso

We are thrilled to resume our trailblazer series by shining the spotlight on Grace Barrasso, the Global Head of ESG and Risk at ArcelorMittal mining segment. Our trailblazer series highlights the journeys of seasoned ESG and sustainability professionals, and Grace’s remarkable career is nothing short of inspiring.

Grace Barrasso brings over two decades of expertise to spearhead sustainable practices in mining. With a strong academic and multidisciplinary background and fluency in English, French, and Italian languages, Grace excels in navigating complex challenges in environmental and social governance. She is passionate about creating long-term positive impacts on the environment and communities, leveraging her deep knowledge in environmental assessments, stakeholder engagement, and corporate sustainability.

In this interview, Grace shares her journey from EHS to ESG, her strategies for integrating sustainability into core business operations, and her vision for the future of mining. Her insights offer valuable lessons for anyone committed to advancing sustainability in resource-intensive industries. Read on to discover how Grace is leading the charge towards a greener future in mining!

YellowYellow (YY): Could you share with us how you initially got involved in the mining industry, and later transitioned into focusing on ESG?

Grace Barrasso (GB): Absolutely. My entry into the mining sector was quite serendipitous. Initially, I was deeply embedded in the sustainability and Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) fields through my academic pursuits. My professional journey began in a broader metals context when I joined Alcoa Europe as an EHS Regulatory Affairs Manager, based in Brussels. This role offered me a broader perspective beyond just waste management (my previous role), encompassing air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and water management. The comprehensive nature of these issues, coupled with extensive training in health and safety, marked my initial foray into the metal’s world. It was here that I first engaged with mining projects, which piqued my interest and led me to embrace the mining sector fully. My commitment deepened as I lived and worked in various countries across West Africa, further integrating into the industry.

YY: As the focus has shifted from EHS to ESG, how have you seen your role and the industry’s approach evolve, and can you describe a significant ‘Aha’ moment in this journey?

GB: Early in my career, I faced a directive to address NGO concerns about our greenhouse gas emissions, which was simplistically framed as ‘make it go away.’ Engaging with these groups, I quickly realized the depth of the environmental challenges we faced in smelting. This led to the formation of a committee to tackle these issues through stakeholder engagement, marking a shift from compliance to proactive environmental stewardship in my career, reflecting a similar overall industry trend.

Over the years, my role expanded beyond managing risks to fostering genuine community engagement and integrating sustainable practices into our core business strategies. What was once considered a ‘nice to have’ has become essential and this transformation was helped along by regulations like Canada’s National Pollutant Register, which mandated public transparency of emissions data. This transparency was a game changer, reinforcing the necessity for accountability.

However, the real ‘Aha’ moment came with COVID-19, which temporarily reduced human industrial activity, visibly improving air quality, and increasing wildlife activity. This stark example drove home the impact our practices have on the environment and accelerated a shift towards sustainability that is now deeply integrated into our operational strategies. Today, sustainability considerations are central to business decisions, reflecting a fundamental shift in both industry standards and societal expectations.

YY: As a global ESG lead at a multinational mining company what does your day-to-day look like and what keeps you up at night?

GB: Each day, I navigate the complex landscape of ESG planning and execution at both the organizational and site levels. My role extends beyond strategic oversight; I actively ensure that every new project integrates ESG considerations from the start. On the ground, I translate broad corporate strategies into tangible actions, mindful of the immediate business realities. I am deeply involved in mentoring colleagues and fostering an educational environment that prioritizes rapid problem-solving and practical application of our sustainability goals. This involves everything from ensuring climate-resilient tailing dams to adopting biodiversity initiatives, truly bringing our ESG commitments to life in every aspect of our operations.

The challenge that keeps me up at night is addressing the compliance and modernization of our older mining sites. These sites, built decades ago, now need substantial upgrades to meet today’s stringent environmental standards. The task of securing the necessary funding for these upgrades is daunting yet crucial for aligning our legacy operations with contemporary ESG requirements.

Grace visiting affected communities near a mine in Côte D’Ivoire.

YY: From your vantage point, what is next for mining as an industry?

GB: The future of mining is poised for a technological transformation. Real-time data collection and AI (Artificial Intelligence) automation will enable instantaneous reporting, allowing governments and stakeholders immediate access to operations and ESG metrics. This shift requires robust IT infrastructure, with a significant role for IoT and IT specialists in maintaining these systems.

Innovative techniques like eDNA testing will enhance our ability to monitor at-risk aquatic species, ensuring better environmental stewardship. Additionally, the industry will see a stronger focus on social equity, with active participation from indigenous communities becoming standard. Real-time grievance mechanisms powered by AI and IoT will also improve responsiveness to employee and community concerns, marking a new era of engagement and transparency in mining.

Grace Barrasso’s dedication to ESG at ArcelorMittal Mining is truly inspiring, highlighting the power of enthusiastic individuals in driving positive change. We are grateful to Grace for sharing her impactful journey and rich perspectives with us.

Our Trailblazer Series celebrates professionals who are genuinely advancing sustainability and making an impact. Want to nominate a colleague or friend for the next segment? Send us a message: hello@yellowyellow.ca.

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Jeff Garcia-Seminario

AssociateSenior Associate, Social Impact
Jeff brings global experience in leading corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community engagement projects in the extractive sector.   Jeff excels in stakeholder mapping, community engagement, and conflict resolution.   Applying his private and public sector experiences, Jeff can bridge cultural and historical divides between extractive industries and their communities.  His areas of focus include food security, sustainable procurement, and good governance. Most recently, Jeff contributed to the development of an ESG strategy for a multi-national company.  
Jeff’s native language is Spanish. He enjoys morning runs in the neighboring parks. 

Kaitlyn D'Lima


Kaitlyn D’Lima holds both a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Science and Sustainability Management degree from the University of Toronto.   She is also trained in greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting.

She brings extensive experience in sustainability and business transformational projects. She is known for her ability to execute projects of any size with both urgency and accuracy.   Kaitlyn has a natural talent for improving stakeholder engagement. She’s a real trailblazer when it comes to benchmarking and research.

Kaitlyn is a runner who participates in outdoor adventure races.

Arun Balu Pazhayannur


Arun B Pazhayannur holds a degree in mechanical engineering and is a Chartered Accountant. He also has an MBA from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario. Along with his academic achievements, he has a thorough knowledge of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles, which he incorporates into his consulting work. 

Arun is well-known for his leadership abilities as well as his strong skills in data analysis, financial modeling, and operations management. He has been recognized for his ability to identify practical solutions and deliver value to clients ranging from banks to payment companies to software providers. Arun is also a past President of Toastmasters Club. 

In his free time, Arun enjoys scuba diving.In his spare time, Arun likes to scuba dive. 

Gregory Donovan

Senior Advisor

Gregory  Donovan is a Chartered Accountant. He is a Fundamentals of Sustainable Accounting (FSA) Credential Holder.  He obtained an Honours in Business Adminstrations (HBA) from the Ivey Business School (Western University) and a Master or Laws (LLM) from the London School of Economics. Gregory is the CEO of Avondale Private Capital, a sustainable finance firm focused on energy transition finance and carbon markets.  He has presented on these topics at conferences in Canada, the US and UK.  

Greg participates in the occasional triathlon and loves to go skiing and sailing with his two young children.

Margaux Loptson

Associate & US Operations Lead

Margaux Loptson holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Criminology) from Pennsylvania State University. In addition, she holds several research certifications, including Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans

She has been an essential player in AI-powered teaching and learning projects as a User Experience (UX) lead.  Margaux is known for applying her design thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills to make a positive impact. She is a native French speaker

Margaux is a fitness enthusiast who can be found hiking around Central Park in NYC.

Ritika Jain

Associate / Responsible Supply Chain Lead

Ritika Jain holds a Masters in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management from Lund University (Sweden)  and a Bachelor of Technology from Indraprastha University (India). As a lifelong learner, she is pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Toronto.

Ritika is a recycling and responsible supply chain specialist.  Through her work, she collaborates with organizations to implement circular economy focused policies to ensure compliance with regulations.  

Her proficiency in data analytics and with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) enable her to manage complex sustainability data. Ritika also volunteers with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, engaging with youth to drive positive change.  

Ritika is a native Hindi speaker.  She is a certified hiking leader who enjoys travelling.

Jonathan Spence

Associate & Western Canada Operations Lead

Jonathan Spence holds an Honours Bachelor of Integrated Sciences (Earth and Environmental Sciences) from McMaster University and has his certification in Geographic Information Sciences from the ESRI Canada Center of Excellence at McMaster University. Jonathan worked as a research analyst in the environment and sustainability group for a TSX listed company.  

He is pursuing his Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, where he is researching the development of carbon capture techniques and their applications to the mining industry.  Jonathan is focused on helping companies to minimize their carbon footprint while supporting their economic growth.   

Jonathan is an avid water polo player and coach. He plays for the local National Championship League team. 

Gurnoor Gandhi

VP Business Development & Strategic Partnerships

Gurnoor Gandhi holds an MBA from Ivey Business School (Western University) and a postgraduate diploma in Maritime Energy Management (Sweden). Gurnoor brings experience with sustainability frameworks including TCFD, GRI, and CDP and is pursuing FSA credential (SASB). 

Gurnoor has global leadership experience in the shipping industry managing assets worth millions of dollars on the high seas and has led diverse teams worked in Monaco, Singapore, and India. Most recently, he led organizational development and client partnerships at CARD, a non-profit focused on rural development and renewable energy.

Gurnoor brings a blend of technical and leadership skills. He applied his knowledge of greenhouse gas accounting and carbon capture to support clients with niche energy transition projects. He is known for putting his problem-solving, stakeholder management, and project management skills to work to help firms expedite their ESG Journey. 

Gurnoor is a certified BMW adventure motorcyclist who finds off-road rides rejuvenating for body and spirit.  He enjoys hiking with his family.

Lisa-Annabel Ellis

Founder & CEO

Lisa Annabel Ellis holds an Honours Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the Ivey Business School (Western University). She is a certified Project Manager Professional (PMP) with a Six Sigma Green Belt. Lisa is a Fundamentals of Sustainable Accounting (FSA) Level II Candidate. Applying her deep expertise in business and operational strategies, she has led award-winning transformational initiatives.

Drawing on her well-rounded science and finance expertise, she launched YellowYellow to help clients advance their sustainability practices. As an advocate of transparency and good governance, she partners with clients to understand their risks and opportunities to generate superior long-term value. Stakeholders across the value chain recognize the impact of this effort. She has been called upon to be a keynote speaker and lecturer.

Lisa is an advanced scuba diver who enjoys most water-related sports.