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) joined the University of California, Santa Cruz campus in 2005, and the Sustainability Office in 2011. Over the years, she has collaborated with the local community, students, faculty and staff to support the goal of Zero Waste by 2020, as well as reduce campus water usage by 25% in response to the California statewide drought in 2014-15. In her current role as Sustainability Director, she is a strong advocate for student engagement and empowerment, and is passionate about challenging the environmental movement to be more open to diverse cultural interpretations of sustainability. Elida received her M.S. in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from Indiana University in 2004.
  • Thumbnail HernandezDr. Rebecca Hernandez (she/her), PhD is Director of the UCSC American Indian Resource Center. She earned an MFA at CSU Fullerton, an MA from UCLA and her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her current work focuses on raising awareness about the experiences of Native American students in the university setting, with particular attention to the stereotypical expectations surrounding Native identity. She has worked in a variety of institutions including the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, UCLA American Indian Studies Center and the Center for Southwest Research.  Rebecca is Mexican American, Mescalero and Warm Springs Apache.
  • 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 the Pepper-Giberson Endowed Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies at UCSC and Provost of Colleges Nine and Ten. 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. As College Provost, she builds co-curricular programs at UCSC around food justice, inclusive sustainability, and environmental equity in policymaking, forging campus/community partnerships in the Bay Area and Central Coast. 

  • Thumbnail of Leslie OMalley

    Leslie O'Malley, is the City of Santa Cruz Waste Reduction Manager, especializing in Waste Reduction strategies and Recycling processes. She holds professional association certifications in Zero Waste Principles and Practices. Before joining the City of Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Education and Outreach team in 2016, she worked as a Commercial Waste Auditor and a Project Manager for a Waste Reduction Pilot program at a South Bay Area K-8 school. Spend a few minutes talking to Leslie about Resource Conservation and a Zero Waste lifestyle and you can’t help but feel her passion for the subject. Leslie’s 90 minute tours of the Santa Cruz Resource Recovery Facility combined with her Master Recycler Volunteer Training Program has encouraged more than a thousand people to move up the “R” chain of Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Rethink and finally… Refuse.  

  • Ellen VaughanEllen Vaughan (she/her) 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, the Director of Sustainability for the Syracuse Center for Excellence, and Project Coordinator for the Public Counsel of the Rockies in Aspen, CO. Ellen found her true calling in higher education in beautiful Flagstaff, AZ where she worked as Northern Arizona University's Sustainability Manager for five years. She joined the UCSC team in October, 2018.
  • jonathan weidmanJonathan Weidman (he/him) joined UCSC in 2020 as the Associate Director of Transportation and Parking Services. In his role he helps manage campus transit services, permitted parking, vanpool, the Bike Library, and other sustainable transportation initiatives. Before UCSC, Jonathan worked in sustainable transportation consulting, and he is the owner and founder of a bike valet service provider called Two Wheel Valet. Jonathan earned a Master’s degree in Real Estate and Infrastructure at John Hopkins. He is on the Board of Directors for Bike Santa Cruz County, and he is endlessly fascinated by how our transportation infrastructure shapes our public spaces.
  • Thumbnail Tiffany WW image

    Dr. Tiffany Wise-West (she/her) is the Sustainability and Climate Action Manager for the City of Santa Cruz. With a bachelor’s degree in civil/environmental engineering from Purdue University and a doctoral degree in environmental studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, she is a licensed professional civil engineer and LEED associate professional with over 20 years of experience in municipal planning, infrastructure and programming. Dr. Wise-West complements her technical skill set with policy, regulatory, and economic expertise in the areas of climate resilience, energy, and sustainability. Drawing on her interest in innovation and education, she specializes in collaborating across public, private and academic sectors to deliver award winning and impactful emissions mitigation and climate adaptation policies, projects and programs.