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.

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 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 Education. She participates in AASHE Advisory Council and serves as the Region V Sustainability Knowledge Community Representative/board member for NASPA. Heather also proposed and helped create sustainability program standards for the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.

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.

Serena Dressel

Serena Dressel

Board Vice President

Serena Dressel is the Community Engagement Manager of Axiom Event Productions, supporting non-profit and government-led cultural, and community building cycling “cicolvia” style events.  Serena graduated from Portland State University in 2018 with a BS in Environmental Studies and minor in Indigenous Nation Studies, where she worked at the Student Sustainability Center. Serena currently acts as the College Network Lead.  

Kelsey Hill

Kelsey Hill

Board Treasurer

Kelsey is a budding sustainable development professional and a recent M.P.A., M.P.P., and G.C.S. graduate. Through his work with GPSEN and elsewhere, Kelsey works to strengthen ideas-sharing networks to advance inclusive community development.

Suvira Chaturvedi

Suvira Chaturvedi

Board Member

Suvira Chaturvedi has extensive professional experience in sustainable development in the international context spanning over 30 years with diverse UN agencies, donors such as USAID, World Bank, CARE and other state and non-state actors.

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.

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.

Lyndal Frazier-Cairns

Lyndal Frazier-Cairns

Board Member

Lyndal Frazier-Cairns is a communications professional who works at the intersection of justice, technology, and education. She recognizes climate change as the single most pressing challenge facing our world and is eager to support those building a more just and sustainable world.

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.

Owen Rudloff

Owen Rudloff

Board Member

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.

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.

Senior Advisors

David Cohen, Blair-Morgan, LLC
Lin Harmon-Walker, Ethical Future Institute
Charles Hopkins, UNESCO
David Kunz, OR Dept. of Env. Quality
David Macek, EcoChallenge.org
Gary Obermeyer, Learning Options
Nick Pasquale, Media Producer
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.

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