Sustainability Certificate Program Instructors

  • thumbnail chris bennerDr. Chris Benner is the Dorothy E. Everett Chair in Global Information and Social Entrepreneurship, and a Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  He currently directs the Everett Program for Technology and Social Change and the Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation.  His research examines the relationships between technological change, regional development, and the structure of economic opportunity, focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work and employment.  He has authored or co-authored seven books (most recently Solidarity Economics, 2021, Polity Press) and more that 70 journal articles, chapters and research reports.  He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Thumbnail Image EricksonElida Erickson (she/her) is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives & Sustainability, working to to provide broad leadership in advancing challenging new sustainability projects, and more -- including constructing sustainable and affordable housing, and partnering with colleagues to implement effective process improvements across the division of Finance, Operations, and Administration. She joined the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus in 2005, and has served as Director of the Sustainability Office since 2015. She has collaborated with the local Santa Cruz community, students, faculty and staff to support waste reduction and education, and reduce campus water usage by 25% at the height of the California statewide drought in 2014-15. Most recently, she co-led the development of the Decarbonization & Electrification Plan in 2023. She is a strong advocate for student engagement and professional growth, and is passionate about challenging the sustainability movement to open up to multi-culturally relevant interpretations of how to care for the environment. She is a co-founder of UCSC’s award-winning People of Color Sustainability Collective, and in 2023 served as co-chair of the Climate Change, Sustainability & Resilience pillar the development of Leading the Change: The UC Santa Cruz Strategic Plan.

    She is an active board member of the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, and spends as much of her free time in beautiful outdoor spaces as possible! Elida holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University New Orleans, and Master of Science in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from Indiana University.
  • Thumbnail HernandezDr. Rebecca Hernandez PhD (she/her), is the new Community Archivist at the UCSC University Library where she partners with local stakeholders to promote the acquisition, preservation, and use of archival materials that document the communities of Santa Cruz County. She has worked in higher education administration for over 15 years and served as Director of the UCSC American Indian Resource Center from 2014-2021 where she worked with the team to create successful collaborative programs across campus including the People of Color Sustainability Collective and the UCSC Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Series. She holds an MFA in Design from CSU Fullerton, is a graduate of the UCLA American Indian Studies MA Program and earned her PhD in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. 
  • Kevin Koenig thumbnail imageKevin Koenig (he/his) is the Ecuador Program Director for Amazon Watch. He is a leading expert on resource and rights conflicts in the western Amazon Basin, having worked for over two decades with indigenous peoples in the defense of their territories and rights throughout the region's rainforests. From the frontlines to the corporate boardroom, Kevin has collaborated with indigenous peoples in challenging and influencing oil drilling projects, government development policies, finance for mega-infrastructure projects, lending practices, and demand-side U.S. oil consumption, winning important victories and setting legal precedents. He is a UC Santa Cruz alumnus.
  • Thumbnail Flora Lu

    Dr. Flora Lu (she/her) (A.B. Human Ecology, Stanford and Ph.D. Ecology, UNC-Chapel Hill) is a Professor of Environmental Studies at UCSC. Her scholarly interests include: ecological anthropology, environmental justice, conservation politics, indigenous livelihoods, and political ecology. For the past two decades, she has conducted research in the Ecuadorian Amazon examining the relationship between extractivism, indigenous communities, and rainforests. Her recent collaborative efforts have focused on building co-curricular programs around food justice, inclusive sustainability, and environmental equity in policymaking, forging campus/community partnerships in the Bay Area and Central Coast. 

  • No alternative textDerek Martin (he/him) started working in higher education in 2010, first as an accountant and then transitioned into sustainability to better align his professional life with his commitment to leave the planet a little better than how he found it. As UCSC's Sustainability Programs Manager, Derek works at the intersection of zero waste, food, procurement, and health and wellness. Additionally, he oversees the Green Office Certification Program and the Student Sustainability Advisors. The circular economy, electric vehicles, food, and sustainable business are a few of his favorite topics to talk about. In his free time he loves to run, bike, and swim and find unique hot sauces. 
  • Thumbnail of Leslie OMalleyLeslie O'Malley (she/her) is a Discard Management Professional specializing in Waste Reduction strategies and Recycling processes. She joined the City of Santa Cruz in 2016 and has developed and implemented various programs, including an industry award-winning Master Recycler Volunteer training program.
    Building bridges in the community and meeting people wherever they are on the hierarchy of Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot are the keystones that guide her work as Waste Reduction Manager for the City of Santa Cruz Public Works Department.
  • Ellen VaughanEllen Vaughan (she/her), is the assistant director of sustainability for operational & strategic initiatives at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She studied business and forestry at Virginia Tech before receiving her Masters in Environmental Policy at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry. She has worked as a global warming field organizer for Greenpeace in Washington, DC, project coordinator for the Public Counsel of the Rockies in Aspen, CO, and the director of sustainability for the Syracuse Center for Excellence. Ellen found her true calling in higher education in Flagstaff, AZ where she managed Northern Arizona University's sustainability office for five years. She joined the UC Santa Cruz team in 2018 where she enjoys working on all the diverse components of sustainability, particularly decarbonization and electrification, behavior change, sustainable policy development and process improvement.
  • jonathan weidmanJonathan Weidman (he/him) is the Director of Transportation at San Diego State University, and former Sr. Associate Director of UCSC TAPS. In both roles he helped manage campus transit services, permitted parking, vanpool, BCycle bike share, and other sustainable transportation initiatives. Before UCSC, Jonathan worked in transportation consulting, and he is the founder of a bike valet service called Two Wheel Valet. Jonathan earned a Master’s degree at John Hopkins and his Bachelor's degree at Georgia Tech. He is endlessly fascinated by how our transportation infrastructure shapes our public spaces. Outside of transportation, Jonathan is interested in sustainable food systems and agriculture. 
  • Thumbnail Tiffany WW image

    Dr. Tiffany Wise-West (she/her) is the Sustainability and Resiliency Officer at the City of Santa Cruz, California. She is a licensed professional civil engineer with over 25 years of experience in municipal environmental planning, programming, policy and infrastructure work.  Drawing on her interest in innovation and education, she specializes in collaborating across public, private and academic sectors to deliver impactful and award winning emissions mitigation and climate adaptation initiatives. Tiffany serves as the co-chair of Green Cities California, chair of the Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary Community Service Committee, the vice-chair of the Monterey Bay Regional Climate Project Working Group and is on the steering committee of the Central Coast Climate Collaborative. She serves as secretary of the Board of Directors for Central Coast Energy Services, a nonprofit organization providing energy education and services to people in need.