July News

Happy summer!  As the season changes, GPSEN is excited to announce the appointment of our new Executive Director and four new Board Members!

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Neeraja Havaligi, our new Executive Director! Neeraja has served as a member of our Board of Directors and co-chair for our Research and Curriculum Committee, in addition to engaging in our Think Tank and International Committee, participating in a number of panels and presentations, and helping create equity, diversity and inclusion trainings for the Board.

Neeraja brings a breadth of experience in sustainability education and work with the United Nations. Neeraja received her Ph.D. from Akamai University in Hawaii, with a focus on urban agriculture, greywater reuse and rainwater harvesting for food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change. Neeraja has held a variety of leadership positions with the United Nations Development Program, with more than fifteen years of experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Neeraja complements this scientific and international background with a talent for poetry. We are thrilled to have Neeraja as our new Executive Director and look forward to having her share her perspectives and talents to help shape sustainability education efforts in the greater Portland region.

We thank Lin Harmon-Walker, J.D., for her service as GPSEN’s Interim Executive Director over the last year. Lin was a core architect of our governance and non-profit model and her dedication and warmth have helped ensure the long-term health of our organization. Lin now turns her attention to a forthcoming book focused on global environmental law. We look forward to collaborating with you in the future!

GPSEN is also proud to announce four new Board Members:

  • Amy Dvorak, Sustainability Manager, Lewis & Clark College
  • Jami Haaning, Corporate Responsibility Manager, ENGIE Insight
  • Oussama Laraichi, Integrated Resources Planning Analyst Intern, Portland General Electric
  • Nichole Wenzel, Environmental Studies Graduate, Portland State University

Plus, we welcome back Kim Smith, Sociology Instructor at Portland Community College and former GPSEN ED. She will serve as our Programs & Events Chair and will contribute to our outreach efforts.

Over the summer, we will focus on reflecting on this year’s accomplishments, designing our new website, planning the next Sustainability Symposium, and envisioning networking events. Some GPSEN members have been traveling to share and learn at the Climate Generation Summer Institute and creating sustainability standards through the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, mentoring new RCEs, and working on publications, among other projects.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the GPSEN newsletter!

Heather Spalding
Board President

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