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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 engagement and implementation of our objectives, distributes authority and decision-making across the network, and honors the volunteer efforts of our members.

Kim Smith

Kim Smith

Interim Executive Director

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 Co-Founder of GPSEN. She represented the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) at the United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit and the UNESCO World Summit on ESD. 

 
Owen Rudloff

Owen Rudloff

Board President

Owen Rudloff has extensive research experience in climatology, geology, environmental remediation and environmental justice. He has worked extensively on Portland Harbor Superfund remediation projects, stormwater and groundwater monitoring.

Serena Dressel

Serena Dressel

Board Member

Serena Dressel is the Portland State University (PSU) Student Sustainability Center’s Interim Coordinator. Serena is pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration with a specialization in Global Leadership and Management, as well as a certificate in Postsecondary Adult and Continuing Education at PSU. Serena support’s GPSEN’s College Network. 

Tahira Abbas

Tahira Abbas

Board Member

Tahira grew up in Quebec and has a Master of International Relations with a focus on ESD. Her work focuses on strengthening and amplifying multi-stakeholder transformative processes towards the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda; including processes to mainstream values-based ESD in K-12 learning systems.

Justin Barrieault

Justin Barrieault

Board Member

Justin is a graduate student at Portland State University, studying Public Administration, specializing in Natural Resource Policy and Administration and pursuing a certificate in Sustainable Food Systems. Currently, Justin works as the SNAP Education and Training Case Manager at PSU, assisting SNAP eligible students obtain employment. Justin is passionate about climate justice, particularly its relationship to housing equity and racial equality. 

Pranoti Deshmukh

Pranoti Deshmukh

Board Member

Pranoti grew up in India and she recently graduated from PSU with MS in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. Her work focuses on environmental investigation and remediation technologies, water quality, and stormwater management practices.

Monica Fleisher

Monica Fleisher

Board Member

I landed in the northwest after accepting an AmeriCorps position in sustainability. Sustainability education drives my interest because of its emphasis on interconnectedness; weaving together the social, ecological, and economic aspects of our everyday lives. My career path was sparked by a high school field trip to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters, the world’s first LEED Platinum building. I have held roles with Clark County Green Business, Multnomah County Sustainability, Port of Portland, and am currently the Sustainability Program Manager for Portland Public Schools.

Cameo Konfrst

Cameo Konfrst

Board Member

Cameo is the Director of Development and Communications for the Community Energy Project.  Marketing, operations and fundraising background with extensive experience in product development, brand awareness and marketing/sales management.

Jade Menchaca

Jade Menchaca

Board Member

Jade is the Recycling Program Coordinator at Portland Community College.  She created food security initiatives at the University of Oregon, coordinated events revolving around sustainability, studied sustainable development in Ecuador, and taught children about environmental education.

Michelle Larkins

Michelle Larkins

Board Member

Michelle is the Director for a Sustainable Society at Pacific University. There her research and teaching focuses on the intersection of society and the environment, particularly food and environmental justice. Outside of the classroom, she works with faculty to bring a sustainability lens to a diverse array of courses at Pacific, with students and staff to dream big on sustainability and social justice, and engages with community members and partners for collective impact. Michelle earned her PhD in Community Sustainability, and MS in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University where she was a Charles Stuart Mott Fellow in Sustainable Agriculture. Prior to joining Pacific she served for three years as a researcher for the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (USAID), working on gender equity and food insecurity Malawi, Africa. She sits on the advisory board for CS Food Rescue, and the Fernhill Wetland Council. When she’s not at Pacific, you’ll find her in the garden, hiking with her two dogs, or on the water.

Giang Nguyen

Board Member

With an economic and international relations background, and as a student at PSU, Giang hopes to help GPSEN align with the international sustainable development goals.  She has applied for consultative status with ECOSOC (the United Nations Economic and Social Council).

Senior Advisors

Suvira Chaturvedi, United Nations

Frank Granshaw, PSU

Lin Harmon-Walker, Georgetown Law School

Charles Hopkins, UNESCO

LeRoy Patton, PSU, Elders in Action

Roger Petry, RCE Saskatchewan

Debra Rowe, US Partnership for ESD

Heather SpaldingCWU College of Education and Professional Studies 

Judy Walton, Co-Founder of AASHE

Active Committees

Governance
Policy and Planning, Diversity and Equity, Grant Development, Assessment
Outreach + Communications
Partnerships, Marketing, Newsletter/website
Programs + Events
Symposium, Workshops, Youth and College Networks, Socials
Research + Curriculum
Think Tank, Fellows Program, Curriculum Development, Database

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.

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