Description of Individual or organization

I am the Executive Director for the Institute for Sustainability and Global Impact at the University of Texas at Arlington where I work collaboratively with faculty, staff, the student body and community members to address opportunities to promote sustainability in several areas including greening facility operations, promoting innovative research, supporting and encouraging student initiatives, implementing an environmentally and sustainability-focused curriculum, alternative transportation options for students like car sharing and bike sharing. I recommend policies and strategies to advance the university’s commitment to being leader in campus sustainability as outlined in the strategic plan. I am a passionate and decisive change agent with proven success driving results, building teams and managing complexity in fast moving environments. I have a strong track record for setting ambitious goals, guiding strategies, developing and executing plans. I am Effective and inspiring communicator, trusted team player and relentless optimist who enjoys building strong relationships and partnerships. I also work collaboratively and have established a working relationship with various stakeholders and agencies like EPA Region 6, North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), North Texas Commission, local governments, DFW Airport, United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD), Chamber of Commerce, Community College Districts and other nonprofits.

Leadership (Nominee demonstrates leadership through example, knowledge, attitude)

I was once interviewed by a very prominent sustainability blog, Triple Pundit. As TriplePundit kicked off new series on women’s leadership, they posed this question to me-What does women’s leadership mean in 2015? And after much thought and introspection my answer was “Be true to yourself: Women’s leadership in the world of millennials rides on the success wheels of authenticity, and communicating the vision and values in a way that shouts, ‘I care.’ Blending those values with your unique goals, ambition and qualities like empathy can be very motivating and efficacious. Leadership lives at the intersection of that spark and values.” And I truly believe in it. Working for an educational institution with 40,000 students gives me the opportunity to connect with students at an informal level, and understand their needs and passions when it comes to sustainability program and initiatives on campus. At a time when authenticity and inclusivity set leaders apart, being emotional is as valuable as being analytical. My leadership skills and experience has given me the opportunity to be named to the Committee on Economic and Social Sustainability for Airports by the Transportation Research Board. This Board is one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and provides independent objective analysis and advice to the nation to help solve complex problems and inform policy decisions. My work experience and education has given me the opportunity to write articles and blogs on pressing environmental issues with prestigious platform such as Bloomberg.

Environmental Impact (Nominee demonstrates a positive impact on the local environment via policy change, product offering, significant volunteer contribution or other achievement)

Universities act as catalysts for sustainability efforts in the cities in which they are located. Since I joined UT Arlington as the Director of Sustainability in 2010, I have initiated many projects with a positive environmental impact for UTA and the Arlington Community. I have drafted and successfully implemented Recycling Policy, Green Building Policy, and Anti-Idling Policy for UTA. I serve on the Board for the North Texas Corporate Recycling Association.

Some projects initiated by me at UTA include-

Community Garden- The organic Community Garden at UT Arlington, built in collaboration with the City of Arlington has become a public green space for families, community members, and garden enthusiasts. Members of the community can adopt one of the 78 plots in the half-acre garden. As part of the $35 annual plot use agreement gardeners donate at least half of their produce to Mission Arlington, the garden’s designated food bank program. The garden is located at 406 Summit Ave., just south of the Sweet Center at the corner of UTA Boulevard and Summit Avenue and is one of many projects on campus that demonstrate the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship and natural resource conservation, and presents amazing opportunities for open space preservation, community service learning, conservation, food production, and recycling and renewal of our most basic natural resources—plants

Composting-UT Arlington’s award-winning composting program is not only practical and environmentally friendly but is an outstanding learning tool and model for others considering similar programs. The program annually composts 32.4 tons of pre consumer food waste from on-campus dining services and off-campus coffee shops and hospitals as well as yard waste collected from campus ground crews. The University uses this compost as mulch and soil amendment on campus grounds and in the new community garden. 

We have a stakeholder partnership with Air North Texas to reduce ozone pollution in the North Texas region. Coordinated through the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), Air North Texas includes UT Arlington and 19 other partners committed to educating the public about air quality, carpooling and public transit, maintaining vehicles to reduce emissions, walking and bicycling, and other clean air choices.

UTA has an aggressive energy conservation program dedicated to staying ahead of increasing fuel and utility costs and, in doing so, reducing financial impacts and responsibly managing public funds. In 2009 and 2011, the University completed two energy performance contracts that invested $27.9 million in building retrofits, system and equipment upgrades, and upgraded energy controls. The combined energy savings from these measures total over $3 million annually.

The University has committed to pursuing LEED certification on future buildings. The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded LEED Gold certification to the Engineering research Building and College Park Center at The University of Texas at Arlington, further affirming the University’s role as a leader in implementing sustainable, cost-effective design. 


Car Sharing program- Over 1000 students as members using the program with 7 vehicles on campus 

Bike Share program – 40 bikes and 7 stations across campus 

E- Waste Recycling Program- E waste recycling program to the faculty, staff and students at UT Arlington to recycle the following items- Computer Equipment (Monitors, CRT’s, PC’s laptops, etc.), Test equipment , Cell phones (batteries removed), Pagers (batteries removed), Palm pilots (PDA’d) (batteries removed), Digital cameras (batteries removed), Radios (batteries removed) Telecommunications equipment, Sound and lighting equipment, including amplifiers, speakers, dimmers, control boards and interfaces and standard cabling related to, Consumer home electronics (Stereo’s DVDNHS players, tuners, TV’s, etc.}, Miscellaneous electronic equipment, Alkaline batteries, lead acid batteries, NiM batteries and lithium batteries, Printer I toner cartridges, All electronic peripherals- Printers, Hard Drives (personal, not UT Arlington property), Floppy’s CD Rom’s DVD Drives, Printed Circuit Boards, Power Supplies, Zip Drivers, Jazz Drives, Smart cards, cable, wiring, IC’s – Integrated Circuits, Memory, Resistors, Capacitors.

GRI Report- UTA is one of the 3 universities in the nation to publish a GRI report- Sustainability Reporting Framework that enables us to measure and report our sustainability performance. By reporting transparently and with accountability, we can increase the trust that stakeholders and community have in us and achieve a competitive edge.

Sustainable Landscaping- The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction, and maintenance practices. The Sustainable Sites initiative is dedicated to fostering a transformation in land development and management practices that will bring the essential importance of ecosystem services to the forefront. The University of Texas at Arlington’s $78 million Special Events Center and Campus Green Park is one of the pilot SITES project and features native and adapted plants that consume approximately 70% less water than a typical landscape for the area. A dry creek and ecological retention areas manage rainwater and storm water runoff that, ultimately, drains into Johnson Creek. The Park also features a large lawn of drought tolerant grass for student activities, innovative seating surfaces made from seat walls and stone ledges, and permeable paving made from recycled glass.

Office Green Team Program- The Green Office Program goes beyond the typical environmental initiatives that many individuals, offices and departments at UT Arlington already support. This program takes a coordinated, long-term and campus-wide approach, providing resources, helpful guidelines and on-going consultation as needed. It also provides recognition to outstanding Maverick Green Offices. The Office Green Team Network is comprised of staff and faculty who are passionate about making UTA a more sustainable community. We encourage all departments and offices to sign up for the Green Office Program. To qualify, departments need to select initiatives that their office can complete. Implementing 5 initiatives qualifies the office at the Bronze level, 10 initiatives qualify at the Silver level, 15 initiatives qualify at the Gold level and to qualify at the Platinum level requires Gold status plus the 3 Platinum initiatives.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SUSTAINABLE STUDIES MINOR- Taking advantage of the many courses on sustainability and the environment offered throughout the university, this broadly interdisciplinary program provides students a powerful way to enrich their education and effectively apply their major field of study to some of the most complex and crucial problems of the new millennium. The 18 credit hour Environmental and Sustainable Studies Minor offered through the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs can be combined with most majors, and in some cases completed coursework will qualify for credit. The sustainability minor requires 18 credit hours. In addition to the core course, the minor requires 15 hours of approved courses taken in each of three areas, liberal arts; natural sciences and engineering; and urban and public affairs and architecture. In geology, for example, sustainability related courses deal with climate change and global warming. In English there are special top ics classes that address environmental literature. The Sustainable Engineering Minor prepares students in all engineering disciplines to ask questions and analyze problems from a sustainable engineering perspective, and develop sustainable solutions. Students seeking the minor must successfully complete the following courses with a grade of C or better and two electives from the civil, electrical, mechanical and aerospace, or material sciences engineering departments. 

Community Impact (Nominee demonstrates commitment to DFW green community through involvement with causes, business ventures or organizations)

For academic institutions, student and employee engagement is touted as the key to shifting sustainability from its place in the silo of facilities management, eco reps, office green teams and the committed few, to fully integrated into day-to-day operations. In response, we educate our community about sustainability through brown bag lunches, offering to collect their e-waste, hold Earth Day events, provide volunteer opportunities to help with community gardens, offer classes in rain barrel making and composting, participate in outreach events such as city of Arlington’s EcoFest, put up signage to encourage more sustainable behaviors, partner with organization like NCTOCG to develop public service announcements about air quality which was hosted on NCTCOG’s website for the North Texas community to watch, The University, the city of Arlington, and regional transportation stakeholders funded a two-year pilot program to test a regional con nectivity project that transported 950 daily shuttle riders from the Trinity Railway Express Centre Point/Dallas Fort Worth Airport station to the UT Arlington, with stops in the business and entertainment district along the way. The new launched Bike Share Program at UTA has the potential and plan to be expanded to Downtown Arlington to offer the connectivity between the Community and UTA and offer healthy and alternate mode of transportation, reducing congestion, GHG emissions and the need for parking.

Other reasons for your nomination

I look at the challenge of sustainability from systems thinking lens, and believing in Einstein's dictum that problems can't be solved within the mindset that created them. I create the environment where the right behaviors are a natural outcome, help to draw the connections between natural ecosystem and the economy, and to communicate those connections to others and motivate them to take action. Higher education has given ample proof of its viability over the centuries and of its ability to change and to induce change and progress in society.