Mayor Nutter yesterday named a former campaign aide and current staffer, Katherine Gajewski, as the new director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

"The future of sustainability is in good, competent, hard-working hands," Nutter said yesterday about Gajewski, 29, who has worked since January as special assistant to the mayor's chief of staff.

Saying he had interviewed several candidates as he searched for someone with political savvy and operational experience who was also a team player, ultimately, the mayor said, "we found that person and she was just across the hall."

As sustainability director, Gajewski succeeds Mark Alan Hughes, a University of Pennsylvania academic who resigned exactly a month ago "to breathe and think and write."

Top among her priorities will be implementing a 15-goal plan called Greenworks Philadelphia that Nutter unveiled in April.

Gajewski, who until now earned $60,000, will be paid $95,000 in her new position, in which she'll also be a member of the mayor's cabinet. Like other mayoral staffers, however, her salary will be cut by 5 percent because of the city's budget crisis.

As an aide to the chief of staff, Gajewski oversaw two citywide "spring cleanups," and advised Nutter on appointments to city boards and commissions. Before joining the administration, she developed a sustainability policy paper as a Nutter campaign volunteer, and worked for Breathe Free Philadelphia Alliance, which helped push legislation making the city smoke-free.

Gajewski, who graduated from Wesleyan University, also worked for land conservation groups in Vermont and Seattle.

Despite the tough fiscal climate, Nutter said, he did not consider eliminating the sustainability office because "to not have an office and a person focused on these issues would cost us more money."

Contact staff writer Marcia Gelbart at 215-854-2338 or mgelbart@phillynews.com.