Christina Kaba always has been passionate about the environment. As a child, the self-described “tomboy” was forever covered in mud and dirt. This passion fueled her decision to study geology and geophysics in college and graduate school.
“When faced with the choice of sitting inside a classroom or going on a field trip to study geology, I’d pick the field trip every time,” says Kaba.
As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kaba envisioned herself as a professor, helping students develop their own passions. But she realized she enjoyed the practical applications of science and the advocacy components of environmentalism. “Being an academic is an incredibly valuable career, but it didn’t match what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to make an impact on our every day,” she reflects.
After earning her master’s degree, she accepted a job with the Conservation Law Foundation, a nonprofit environmental law firm in Boston specializing in science-based environmental advocacy. “It was the perfect job. I got to spend all day reading scientific reports and explaining it in straightforward terms to a wonderful group of advocates and lawyers,” she recalls.
Today, Kaba puts both her passion for environmental sustainability and experience in environmental advocacy to use as general counsel and vice president of human resources at Covation Biomaterials (CovationBio). Formerly part of DuPont, CovationBio spun off in June 2022 with a mission to promote a more circular economy through the manufacture of bio-based, high-performance, sustainable products for apparel, carpeting, and beyond. Its flagship commercial product, Sorona polymer, adds stretch and softness to garments and carpeting with reduced environmental impact over petroleum-based products.
CovationBio, a value-driven company with an aggressive growth plan, excited Kaba from the start. “It’s not that sustainability is important to CovationBio or even a core value. It is the fabric of our company,” she asserts.
Kaba began her career at a large firm, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, in Philadelphia. She transitioned to Land Air Water Legal Solutions, a boutique firm, in 2012 to focus on environmental counseling and litigation. Kaba then moved in-house to Hewlett Packard Company where she was senior social and environmental responsibility counsel, and served in various legal and business roles at FMC Corporation in their Philadelphia and Singapore offices.
Kaba joined the Biomaterials team at DuPont one year prior to the CovationBio spinoff with the intention of playing a key role in the carve-out of the company and its establishment, likening CovationBio to a startup with a line of already proven products.
Being both GC and VP of human resources is a unique combination—one for which Kaba is perfectly situated. “I have always loved the strategic parts of being a lawyer,” she says. “By combining the GC role with the HR function, I have a broader view of how this company operates and can contribute more proactively to the key matters impacting the company. This dual role allows me to interact with a wide diversity of individuals across the company and push for greater diversity across our team.”
Bringing more women into the company is a key priority for CovationBio and driven by its unwavering dedication to creating a more sustainable future for everyone. “Working in the sciences and manufacturing, I have had few female role models, and we need to change that for future generations,” she reflects. “Our team is a force of nature and increasing our diversity will only make us stronger.”
With an increased demand from apparel and carpet manufacturers for sustainable materials, the potential for CovationBio feels limitless. “Being able to start with proven products that reduce our dependency on petroleum and advance a more circular economy is an incredible opportunity,” she says, “but to be able to do that in an agile, lean startup environment is the chance of a lifetime.”
A passion for environmental sustainability has been in the back of Kaba’s mind her entire life, and CovationBio will allow her to follow that passion for years to come. “The future is really bright for this company and I’m excited to help it grow,” she says.