Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network

A UNU Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development serving Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon and Washington. GPSEN’s mission is to connect diverse organizations in a collaborative network that multiplies our collective capacity to educate, empower, and engage for a sustainable future. GPSEN envisions a healthy, just, and thriving region where education for sustainability is prioritized and integrated across sectors; and where everyone has opportunities to shape a sustainable future.

Our Values

Our Values

agsdi-globe

Sustainability

Systems-based approach of people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership

agsdi-hand-heart

Environmental Justice and Equity

Creating healthy, vibrant, and thriving communities

agsdi-aperture

Inclusive Participation

Working together to ensure a resilient and thriving region

agsdi-refresh

Innovation

Visionary processes, technologies, and solutions-based strategies

agsdi-list

Transparency and Accountability

Open and honest in our governance and practices

agsdi-bulb-options

Transformative Learning

Varying ways of teaching, learning, and knowing

Meet our Amazing Team!

We are committed to creating a progressive, egalitarian governance model that reflects our values, supports collaboration among our partners, identifies committee structures and pathways that facilitate implementation of our objectives, distributes authority and decision-making across the network, and honors the volunteer efforts of our members.

Neeraja Havaligi

Neeraja Havaligi

Executive Director

Neeraja is a practicing agriculturist, educator, scientist and a life-long learner of the power of growing, cooking and sharing food. Neeraja has a doctorate in environmental science with research focus on urban water and food resilience and urban agrobiodiversity. She has two masters degrees, one in agronomy, another in plant physiology, and a bachelors in agriculture science. Her work experience includes consulting with United Nations Development Program-Global Environment Facility and Food and Agriculture Organization.

Heather Spalding

Heather Spalding

Board President

Heather Spalding coordinates the Student Sustainability Center at PSU and grew up in southern Oregon. She has an MS in Educational Leadership and Policy with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability ED.

Serena Dressel

Serena Dressel

Board Secretary

Serena recently graduated from PSU with a BS in Environmental Studies and minor in Indigenous Nation Studies. Serena is inspired to work in environmental education and environmental justice.

Kim Smith

Kim Smith

Founder, Board Member

Kim received her Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University, specializing in environmental sociology and social movements. She has taught sociology at Portland Community College (PCC) since 1996 and is Founder of the GPSEN. She represented the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) at the United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit, in 2012, and currently serves on AASHE’s Board of Directors.

David Macek

David Macek

Board Treasurer

David Macek is the Executive Director of Northwest Earth Institute. For 12 years, he has led transformation-centered nonprofits focusing on critical issues relating to environment, culture, and leadership.

Frank Granshaw

Frank Granshaw

Board Member

A retired geoscience instructor from Portland Community College, Frank is now part-time geology faculty at Portland State University and a faculty fellow with PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

Jami Haaning

Jami Haaning

Board Member

Jami is a management professional that designs and delivers complex programs. She has built successful and strategic corporate responsibility initiatives within organizations.

Laura Kutner

Laura Kutner

Board Member

Laura is a sustainability and development professional, as founder of the non-profit Trash For Peace she creates hands-on opportunities that encourage resilient communities.

Oussama Laraichi

Oussama Laraichi

Board Member

Oussama builds efficient decision making support solutions for organizations. He is a researcher in Engineering and Technology Management at Portland State University.

Bruce Podobnik

Bruce Podobnik

Board Member

Associate Professor of Sociology at Lewis & Clark College. He wrote ‘Global Energy Shifts,’ a book which examines transformations in energy industries and renewables over the last two centuries.

Briar Schoon

Briar Schoon

Board Member

Briar is the Sustainability Manager for Portland Community College, with the focus of mainstreaming sustainability throughout all college practices district-wide.

Amy Dvorak

Amy Dvorak

Board Member

Amy is the Sustainability Director of Lewis & Clark College. She grew up in Gladstone and received a Masters of Environmental Management from Portland State University.

Senior Advisors

David Cohen, The Intertwine Alliance
Lin Harmon-Walker, Ethical Future Inst.
Charles Hopkins, UNESCO
David Kunz, OR Dept. of Env. Quality
Gary Obermeyer, Learning Options
LeRoy Patton, PSU, Elders in Action
Debra Rowe, US Partnership for ESD
Judy Walton, PSU

Active Committees

Governance
Policy and Planning, Diversity and Equity
Outreach + Communications
Partnerships, Marketing
Program + Events
Public Offerings, Student Networks
Research + Curriculum
Think Tank, Special Projects

Years in Operation

SDGs

Global RCEs

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does GPSEN define sustainability?

We define sustainability to include social, economic, and environmental dimensions that promote healthy, just, and thriving communities where education for sustainable development (ESD) is prioritized and integrated across sectors and where everyone has opportunities to shape a more sustainable future.

What is Sustainable Development?

One of the most widely cited definitions of sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition was first provided by the World Commission on Environment and Development in its 1987 report to the United Nations General Assembly. The report was called “Our Common Future [pdf]” and is also known as the Brundtland Report.

What are Regional Centers of Expertise (RCEs) on Education for Sustainable Development?

An RCE is a network of organizations within a region that facilitate and deliver education for sustainable development (ESD) to local communities. The education may be formal (e.g., classroom), nonformal (e.g., educational arms of organizations), or informal (e.g., the media). The RCE program is a global initiative of United Nations University, designed originally to support the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). As of August 2018, there were 165 RCEs worldwide.

Each RCE has four core elements:

  • Governance: addressing issues of RCE management and leadership
  • Collaboration: addressing the engagement of actors from all levels of formal, non-formal and informal education
  • Research and development: addressing the role of research and its inclusion in RCE activities, as well as contributing to the design of strategies for collaborative activities, including those with other
  • Transformative education: contributing to the transformation of the current education and training systems to satisfy ambitions of the region regarding sustainable living and livelihood.

Receive the latest opportunities and news in sustainability education.

Our bi-monthly newsletter contains the latest updates to the Regional Hub and GPSEN programs.