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RCE North Texas

Regional Center for Expertise

RCE North Texas Annual Summit - Nov 9-10 2022

Reservations  |  Program  |  Speakers

 

Reservations

Venue: Live and In Person at the UT Dallas Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center

Everyone who makes a reservation will be sent travel directions and parking information closer to the start of the summit.

 

Program
Wednesday, November 9

Wed Nov 9

8:30 a.m.

- to -

8:45 a.m.

Registration and Check-In

Wed Nov 9

8:45 a.m.

- to -

9:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Gary Cocke, Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation, The University of Texas at Dallas

Wed Nov 9

9:00 a.m.

- to -

10:00 a.m.

Keynote

Jeff Kavanaugh, Chief Learner and Sharer, Infosys

Sustainable Development Goals3

Wed Nov 9

10:00 a.m.

- to -

11:30 a.m.

SDG 2 Panel: Zero Hunger

Moderator:

Sarah Luxton, Sustainability and Environmental Education Division (SEED) Supervisor, City of Plano

Panel:

Vidya Ayyr, Director, Community Social Impact, Parkland Hospital

Lauren McMinn Clarke, Founder and CEO, Turn

Julia Lindgren, Assistant Professor, College of Architecture Planning and Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Arlington

Jeff Williams, Founder and Executive Director, Taste Project

Sustainable Development Goal 2

Wed Nov 9

11:30 a.m.

- to -

1:00 p.m.

Lunch, Networking, Innovation Quarter Showcase

Wed Nov 9

1:00 p.m.

- to -

2:30 p.m.

SDG 4 Panel: Quality Education

Moderator:

Lorraine Sheldon, Community Engagement Librarian, Gibson D. Lewis Library, University of North Texas Health Science Center

Panel:

Brad Bell, IUS and Urban Design Lab, The University of Texas at Arlington

Dustan Compton, Conservation Manager, Tarrant Regional Water District

Kay Curtis, Architect, HKS, Inc.

Janette Monear, President/CEO, Texas Trees Foundation

Sustainable Development Goal 4

Wed Nov 9

2:45 p.m.

- to -

4:15 p.m.

SDG 9 Panel: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Moderator:

Stephanie Byrd, Marketing Director, Schneider Electric

Panel:

Lori Pampell Clark, Program Manager and DFW Clean Cities Director, North Central Texas Council of Governments

Dr. Janell Hills, Director of Workforce Programs, Interstate Renewable Energy Council

Justin Ruths, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Systems Engineering, The University of Texas at Dallas

Kent Sharp, President, Sherman EDC

Sustainable Development Goal 9

Wed Nov 9

4:15 p.m.

- to -

4:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Gary Cocke, Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation, The University of Texas at Dallas

Wed Nov 9

4:30 p.m.

- to -

5:30 p.m.

Networking Social at the American Tap Room

Thursday, November 10

Thu Nov 10

8:30 a.m.

- to -

8:45 a.m.

Registration and Check-In

Thu Nov 10

8:45 a.m.

- to -

9:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Dr. David Hyndman, Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, The University of Texas at Dallas

Thu Nov 10

9:00 a.m.

- to -

9:45 a.m.

Keynote

Bruno Basso, Professor, Michigan State University

Sustainable Development Goals3

Thu Nov 10

10:00 a.m.

- to -

11:30 a.m.

SDG 11 Panel: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Moderator:

Jennifer Sanders, Executive Director, North Texas Innovation Alliance

Panel:

Steven Duong, Principal and AVP for Urbanism and Planning Practice, AECOM

Jennifer Harris, Broadband Program Specialist, Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, NTIA

Benjamin Magill, Associate Vice Chancellor of Economic Opportunity, Dallas College

Alex Pharmakis, Sustainability Manager, City of Farmers Branch

Sustainable Development Goal 11

Thu Nov 10

11:30 a.m.

- to -

1:00 p.m.

Lunch, Networking, Innovation Quarter Showcase, UTD Bee Campus Interactive Experience

Thu Nov 10

1:00 p.m.

- to -

2:30 p.m.

SDG 13 Panel: Climate Action

Moderator:

Dr. David Hyndman, Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, The University of Texas at Dallas

Panel:

Susan Alvarez, Assistant Director, Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability, City of Dallas

Kathy Jack, The Nature Conservancy

Mario Rotea, UTD Wind, The University of Texas at Dallas

Sustainable Development Goal 13

Thu Nov 10

2:45 p.m.

- to -

3:45 p.m.

Youth Network

Moderators:

Bhargavi Karumuri Jeyarajah, Sustainability Coordinator, Office of Sustainability, The University of Texas at Arlington

Avery McKitrick, Sustainability Coordinator, Sustainability and Energy Conservation, The University of Texas at Dallas

Panel:

Paulina Hruskoci, The University of Texas at Dallas

Tony Pham, Community Coordinator, Walkable Arlington

Oriana Silva, Former Sustainability Intern, University of North Texas

Sustainable Development Goals3

Thu Nov 10

3:45 p.m.

- to -

4:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Gary Cocke, Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation, The University of Texas at Dallas

Meghna Tare, Chief Sustainability Officer, The University of Texas at Arlington

 

Speakers

Susan Alvarez, Vidya Ayyr, Bruno Basso, Brad Bell, Stephanie Byrd, Gary Cocke, Dustan Compton, Kay Curtis, Steven Duong, Jennifer Harris, Dr. Janell Hills, Paulina Hruskoci, Dr. David Hyndman, Kathy Jack, Bhargavi Karumuri Jeyarajah, Jeff Kavanaugh, Julia Lindgren, Sarah Luxton, Benjamin Magill, Avery McKitrick, Lauren McMinn Clarke, Janette Monear, Lori Pampell Clark, Tony Pham, Alex Pharmakis, Mario Rotea, Justin Ruths, Jennifer Sanders, Kent Sharp, Lorraine Sheldon, Oriana Silva, Meghna Tare, Jeff Williams

Susan Alvarez

Susan Alvarez
Assistant Director, Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability
City of Dallas

Bio

Ms. Alvarez serves as the Assistant Director of the City of Dallas Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability. She has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, with a minor in geology from Rice University, and postgraduate work in water resources. She is a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas and five other western states, and is a Certified Floodplain Manager, and Master Naturalist in Texas. She serves on the Southern Great Plains Author Team for the 5th National Climate Assessment and is currently focused on implementing the Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan (CECAP), and other related efforts.

Presentation:

CECAP: Not Just Another Pretty Plan on the Shelf

The City of Dallas developed and adopted the Comprehensive Environmental & Climate Action Plan (CECAP) in 2020, with the express direction from Dallas City Council, and the community that it include measurable goals, and that it should not be “just another pretty plan on the shelf”. The presentation provides a summary update on plan implementation, progress towards the Paris Agreement goals, and what’s in store for the next years program implementation.

Vidya Ayyr

Vidya Ayyr, MPH, CHW
Director, Community Social Impact
Parkland Hospital

Bio

Vidya Ayyr leads high-impact interventions to address the social determinants of health, with a commitment to health equity and improving the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.

As the Director of Social Impact, she provides strategic oversight to Parkland’s community outreach investments, promotes innovation in data analytics, and mobilizes a team of Community Health Workers to drive an integrated approach to population health management.

Ms. Ayyr holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from University of Texas at Dallas and earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center, in 2011.

 

Bruno Basso
Professor
Michigan State University

 

Brad Bell
IUS and Urban Design Lab
The University of Texas at Arlington

Stephanie Byrd

Stephanie Byrd
Marketing Director
Schneider Electric

Bio

Stephanie Byrd is passionate about energy and its role in reshaping industries, transforming cities, and enriching lives. She works for a 180+ year-old company called Schneider Electric who has always been a leading technology provider. She currently serves as a marketing director, helping customers understand their options for reducing energy waste and achieving their climate ambitions. Stephanie is a long-time Texas resident with strong ties to the I-35 corridor: growing up in San Antonio, studying marketing at Baylor University, and now establishing roots in DFW with her husband, pets, and two children.

Gary Cocke

Gary Cocke
Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation
The University of Texas at Dallas

Bio

Gary has led the Office of Sustainability at UT Dallas since 2018 with previous sustainability experience in higher education and municipal government. He is responsible for facilitating the integration of sustainability into campus stewardship, student life, administration, and student learning. As UTD’s sustainability program has grown in recent years, UT Dallas earned AASHE STARS Gold certification for sustainability in 2019. For continued progress, Gary advocates for greater emphasis on the connection between environmental stewardship and social justice, and has adopted the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the basis for sustainability education and service so that students better understand the connection between our society and the environment. Gary leads regional progress towards achieving the SDGs as co-founder and co-director for RCE North Texas, recognized by United Nations University as a Regional Centre for Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development, and advocate for sustainability in higher education as a member of the executive committee for the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability. Gary believes that sustainability is a transdisciplinary field to which all can contribute, and he is always happy to grab a cup of coffee to discuss ideas for collaboration.

Dustan Compton

Dustan Compton
Conservation Manager
Tarrant Regional Water District

Bio

Dustan is the Conservation Manager at Tarrant Regional Water District with fourteen years of experience focusing on water conservation programs, community outreach and regional coordination. He has a master’s degree in Applied Geography from the University of North Texas with a water resources emphasis and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Management from Northeastern State University.

Presentation:

Educating the Public on the Importance of Water and Conservation

Water suppliers are responsible for providing one of the most essential necessities for our daily lives. Communicating and educating the importance of water helps extend existing supplies and increase public support in infrastructure investment. Hear about regional and local programs in water conservation education for the public and school age children.

Kay Curtis

Kay Curtis
Architect
HKS, Inc.

Bio

Kay Curtis is an architect at HKS, Inc.’s hospitality practice and holds a Master’s of Architecture and Bachelor’s of Spanish from Tulane University. In her time at HKS, she has been fortunate to have the opportunity to explore design thinking through multiple outlets. This includes research about the global pandemic’s impact on the hospitality industry, involvement in Park For Floral Farms, a project centered on advocacy & community engagement in the pro-bono Citizen HKS Program, and leadership in the HKS Global Design Fellowship, an annual program that brings designers together to tackle pressing world issues. Her work has been exhibited at the 2020 Venice Biennale, the AIA Dallas Unbuilt Awards, and featured in Hotel Management.

 

Steven Duong
Principal and AVP for Urbanism and Planning Practice
AECOM

Jennifer Harris

Jennifer Harris
Broadband Program Specialist
Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, NTIA

Bio

Jennifer Harris joined the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in August 2022 as a broadband program specialist with NTIA’s Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth. As a broadband program specialist, Jennifer works as a federal program officer for Texas where she helps with the implementation of NTIA’s grant programs. She engages with stakeholders including federal agencies, state and local governments, tribal organizations, educational institutions, membership organizations, and philanthropic organizations. She also offers technical assistance to Texas’s State Broadband Office.

Jennifer started her career at the Texas State Capitol in 2005 holding a wide range of jobs in the public sector. Her professional experience includes legislative, public policy, communications, and government affairs work with the Texas Legislature, and policy and communications work for the Florida Department of Education, along with a variety of roles on local and statewide political campaigns. Following her work at the Texas State Capitol and the Florida Department of Education, Jennifer served for three years as the State Program Director for Texas for Connected Nation, a national non-profit organization which focuses on tackling the digital divide for more than 20 years. Appointed in January 2020, Jennifer served as an inaugural member of the Governor’s Broadband Development Council. Governor Abbott re-appointed her to the Council in March 2022 and named her Vice Chair of the Council, a position which she held until joining NTIA.

Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Master’s degree in Public Service and Administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Janell Hills

Dr. Janell Hills
Director of Workforce Programs
Interstate Renewable Energy Council

Bio

Dr. Janell Hills of Houston, TX is the Director of Workforce Programs at Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). IREC builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet.

Prior to joining IREC, Dr. Hills spent 15 years in higher education, 12 in workforce development leading federally funded grant programs. Dr. Hills has developed work-based learning and registered apprenticeship programs for innovative occupations partnering with CVS Health, JP Morgan Chase, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and a host of other companies. Dr. Hills joined IREC to support the growth of a highly trained and inclusive clean energy workforce that empowers individuals and communities.

Dr. Hills is an enthusiastic leader who is passionate about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. She enjoys working to develop workforce opportunities that provide economic equity.

Paulina Hruskoci

Paulina Hruskoci
The University of Texas at Dallas

Bio

Paulina Hruskoci is a senior at UT Dallas studying geospatial information sciences. A Udall Scholar, she is interested in the applications of spatial data for climate resilience and pollution management. On campus, Paulina spearheaded a campus-wide single use plastics initiative, served as an Eco Rep for the Office of Sustainability, and worked as a Teaching Assistant for a sustainability-focused class. Her interests have led her to work as an Archer Fellow for the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., conduct field research in rural Guyana under Dr. Anthony Cummings, and intern with the Climate Reality Project, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Audubon Texas. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Urban Planning and work for the federal government to advance urban climate solutions. In her free time, Paulina enjoys hiking and studying Mandarin Chinese.

Dr. David Hyndman

Dr. David Hyndman
Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
The University of Texas at Dallas

Bio

Dr. David Hyndman, a scientist with 28 years of experience as a researcher, educator and academic administrator, is the dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at The University of Texas at Dallas. Before joining UT Dallas, Hyndman was professor and chair at Michigan State University. He received his undergraduate degree in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University. His research focuses on process-based modeling of hydrologic systems to evaluate the effects of changes in climate and land use on water, energy, and food systems.

Presentation:

Moving toward Sustainable Water Energy and Food

Sustainable water, energy, and food are three of the main challenges society faces as we move toward the middle of the century. These challenges are all interlinked in a nexus as we need to produce more food to feed a growing population, yet this requires more water for irrigation, and energy to pump that irrigation water. Most of the large aquifers that supply irrigation around the world are mining groundwater, by removing more water than naturally recharges these systems. The continuing declines in water levels also means that energy demands increase with time. There is a strong need to rapidly implement policies to help moves such sytemes toward sustainable development.

 

Kathy Jack
The Nature Conservancy

Bhargavi Karumuri Jeyarajah

Bhargavi Karumuri Jeyarajah
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability, The University of Texas at Arlington

Bio

Bhargavi is the Sustainability Coordinator at UT Arlington and the co-chair of the RCE North Texas Youth Network. She has a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in Biology, specifically concentrating on Ecology and has a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University with an emphasis in Community-Based Environmental Management. As a young woman in the environmental movement, she has a good understanding of the challenges youth face when it comes to working in the environmental field and she focuses her work on finding common ground within the movement between, youth and experienced professionals across all sectors.

 

Jeff Kavanaugh
Chief Learner and Sharer
Infosys

Julia Lindgren

Julia Lindgren
Assistant Professor
College of Architecture Planning and Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Arlington

Bio

Julia Lindgren is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington where she teaches design-build studios and seminars focused on social equity, community engagement, and housing. Through practice, research and teaching, Julia explores the ways in which design processes can be used to restructure the distribution of power within cities.

Presentation:

Joppy Momma’s Farm: Building Community Capacity

This session will discuss the participatory design-build process that sparked the initial development of Joppy Momma’s Farm, in the Joppa neighborhood of Dallas. This work explores the impact of university and community partnerships and the ways in which engaged processes can be designed to center community interests and build local capacity.

Sarah Luxton

Sarah Luxton
Sustainability and Environmental Education Division (SEED) Supervisor
City of Plano

Bio

Sarah Luxton currently serves as the City of Plano’s Sustainability and Environmental Education Division (SEED) Supervisor. In recent years, she also served as the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Denton and completed her Master’s in Public Administration for the University of North Texas focusing on local government. She currently serves on the Alumni Board for the Department of Geography at the University of North Texas and the Personal Development Committee for the Urban Management Association of North Texas (UMANT).

Benjamin Magill

Benjamin Magill, CEcD
Associate Vice Chancellor of Economic Opportunity
Dallas College

Bio

Ben Magill is Associate Vice Chancellor of Economic Opportunity for Dallas College. Ben has worked in economic and workforce development for municipalities, public schools, chambers of commerce and community colleges in North Texas since 2009.

Ben holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Oklahoma State University and is currently pursuing an MPA at UT-Arlington. Ben is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and serves on the board of Impact Ventures, Friends of Solar Prep, as well as the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ Economic Development District Board

Avery McKitrick

Avery McKitrick
Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability and Energy Conservation, The University of Texas at Dallas

Bio

Avery is the Sustainability Coordinator at The University of Texas at Dallas and RCE North Texas Youth Network Co-Chair. She is passionate about elevating youth voices in the environmental movement and fostering connection between youth and industry professionals.

Presentation:

Leaders of Today: Youth as Drivers of Sustainability and Environmental Justice

Hear four youth environmental leaders’ takes on sustainability, environmentalism, and collaboration as we explore the role of young people in the modern environmental movement.

Lauren McMinn Clarke

Lauren McMinn Clarke
Founder and CEO
Turn

Bio

Lauren McMinn Clarke is the Founder and CEO of Turn. Lauren has degrees in Violin Performance from the University of North Texas, Strategic Communications from Columbia University, and Culinary Arts from Dallas College. She is a certified Master Gardener and Master Composter with Texas A&M AgriLife, and the 15th woman in the United States to be a Certified Compost Operations Manager with the US Composting Council.

Janette Monear

Janette Monear
President/CEO
Texas Trees Foundation

Bio

Janette Monear is President/CEO of the private non-profit Texas Trees Foundation in Dallas, Texas which is dedicated to creating healthy communities using trees, technology, research, and education to empower individuals and support policy that mitigate environmental challenges and shift paradigms to support a sustainable future. Monear began her career in advertising for a large bank and she quickly transferred her skills to promote and advance forestry for the University of Minnesota Extension Service which led her to the nonprofit sector. The emphasis for urban forestry provides a platform for Ms. Monear to create partnerships that support programs and projects that improves the quality of life in communities. Since 1985 Ms. Monear has provided strong leadership through important research, reports, curriculum, and programming that helped set a national agenda for urban forestry to create cooler, greener, cleaner, and healthier communities that advance a national agenda for trees which underpins a global focus for sustainable development.

Presentation:

Rooting Education in Forestry

Lori Pampell Clark

Lori Pampell Clark
Program Manager and DFW Clean Cities Director
North Central Texas Council of Governments

Bio

Lori oversees initiatives to improve air quality by reducing pollution from transportation, primarily by transitioning to cleaner, lower-emitting fuels. She also serves as Director of the Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities Coalition, the local chapter of a Department of Energy program focused on increasing energy efficiency in transportation, which is hosted at the NCTCOG. Her work also integrates energy efficiency and renewable energy elements, which are increasingly important as transportation electrifies. Lori received a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Baylor University and joined NCTCOG in 2005. She also serves on the Board of Keep Grapevine Beautiful.

Presentation:

Transforming Transportation in North Texas: The Path Toward Zero Emissions

What are the trends in electrifying transportation in Texas, which has no zero-emission vehicle mandates? How will Texas build the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles? Hear the trends in electrification at the state and local level, and what local leaders are doing to guide infrastructure development.

Tony Pham

Tony Pham
Community Coordinator
Walkable Arlington

Bio

Tony Pham is the community coordinator at Walkable Arlington, a student-led organization advocating for walkability, bikeability, and sustainability in the city of Arlington, Texas. Tony is currently a third-year architecture undergrad at UT Arlington and the co-chair at the University’s Bike Coordinating Committee. Thanks to his and the team’s work, Arlington has received funding to improve its infrastructure and increase accessibility to residents, students, and businesses alike. In his free time, Tony likes to bike, fold origami cranes, and make waffles.

Alex Pharmakis

Alex Pharmakis
Sustainability Manager
City of Farmers Branch

Bio

Alex Pharmakis is the Sustainability Manager for the City of Farmers Branch. Since joining Farmers Branch in 2020, Alex worked to create the City’s first Sustainability Plan and has overseen a number of projects to increase renewable energy within the City. Alex holds a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience from Texas A&M University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbia University.

 

Mario Rotea
UTD Wind
The University of Texas at Dallas

Justin Ruths

Justin Ruths
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering and Systems Engineering, The University of Texas at Dallas

Bio

Justin Ruths is an assistant professor with appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Systems Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. He joined UT Dallas in 2016 after spending five years as an assistant professor and part of the founding faculty at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. His research includes studying the fundamental properties of controlling networks, bilinear systems theory, security of cyber-physical control systems, with applications in neuroscience, social systems, and autonomous driving.

Jennifer Sanders

Jennifer Sanders
Executive Director
North Texas Innovation Alliance

Bio

Jennifer Sanders is Cofounder and Executive Director of the North Texas Innovation Alliance, a 501c3 public-private partnership which is the largest such initiative in the U.S., with the mission of creating the most connected, smart and resilient region in the country. In 2015, she cofounded the Dallas Innovation Alliance (DIA) a 501c3 public-private partnership dedicated to supporting Dallas’ smart cities strategy and serves as its Executive Director. While at the DIA, she has collated a network of over three dozen member organizations and over 20 departments within the City of Dallas. DIA’s Smart Cities Living Lab is the fastest-to-market smart cities initiative in the country. Currently the NTXIA is focused on cross-jurisdictional issues in financial models, connectivity, mobility, sustainability, data and economic development. Prior to these roles, she spent more than a decade in public affairs and change management consulting for clients in finance, energy, technology and economic development, among others.

She is actively involved with numerous civic organizations in Dallas, serving as a Past President of the Mayor’s Star Council, Steering Committee of the Internet for All Coalition, Board of the Suicide & Crisis Center of North Texas, Vice Chairman of Better Block, Advisory Boards for Digital Texas and the Southwestern Medical District Master Plan, among others.

In 2019, she received the UN Day Global Leadership Award for advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). She has been named to the Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 and Top Women in Technology, State Scoop’s Top Women in Technology, the Tech Week 100, and the Dallas 500. She has been honored to speak to groups at conferences around the globe including South by Southwest, Smart Cities Week, IOT World Congress, IMPACT: Cities, and the Smart City Global Congress and Expo in Barcelona. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Psychology with a minor concentration in Economics.

 

Kent Sharp
President
Sherman EDC

Lorraine Sheldon

Lorraine Sheldon, MSIS
Community Engagement Librarian
Gibson D. Lewis Library, University of North Texas Health Science Center

Bio

Lorraine Sheldon serves as the Community Engagement Librarian for the Gibson D. Lewis Library at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. In her role, Lorraine works to improve public health through access to quality health information.

This role is accomplished through educational programming and materials designed for the public, technology solutions for access, and participating in community organizations’ exhibits and committees. Her latest project is in collaboration with the HSC Office of Sustainability to help promote nutrition literacy through the perspective of sustainable practices.

Oriana Silva

Oriana Silva
Former Sustainability Intern
University of North Texas

Bio

I am Oriana Silva, a French and Chemistry BA student at UNT. As a former Sustainability Intern, I have experience working with SDG Action Manager Tool, a self-assessment tool developed by B Lab, and in Sustainability Publishing. In 2020, I had the opportunity to found, along with other students at Dallas College, The Sustainable Age – Student Journal, the first student-led journal based on sustainability in the North Texas area with more than 30 articles published. As a Lab Technician at UNT, I am exploring how chemistry intersects several ecological fields, including Aquatic Ecology, Stable Isotope Ecology, and Food Web Ecology.

Meghna Tare

Meghna Tare
Chief Sustainability Officer
The University of Texas at Arlington

Bio

As UT Arlington’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Meghna works collaboratively to foster partnerships among academic, research, and operational departments and promotes sustainability in areas of energy efficiency, waste management, transportation, education, outreach, and sustainability-focused curriculum.

She has expertise in UN SDGs, public policy, CSR, climate change, equitable food systems, transportation, conservation, and social impact.

Meghna is the Founder and Director of Regional Center of Expertise for Education in Sustainable Development ( RCE North Texas), a program of the United Nations University, and the North Texas Food Policy Alliance.

She graduated with an MBA in Sustainable Management, MS in Environmental Science, and MS in Chemistry.

Presentation:

North Texas Food Policy Alliance

Collective Impact One in seven Texans experienced food insecurity before the pandemic. Five million Texans live in food deserts, one of the highest rates in the U.S. A third of Texans are overweight because of an imbalanced diet and therefore at risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. With projections indicating that its population will more than double by 2050, North Texas is in urgent need of a resilient, sustainable food system that supports public health and well-being through education, sharing of resources, knowledge and expertise, and collaboration of the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

The North Texas Food Policy Alliance was launched and established in 2021 at The University of Texas at Arlington and includes community leaders in city government, public health, community nonprofits, commercial businesses, and educational institutions.

Objectives of the North Texas Food Policy Alliance:

  • Work toward UN SDG 2: zero hunger
  • Share resources: knowledge and expertise
  • Research and strategy for solutions
  • Education and outreach
  • Partnerships and collaboration
  • Capacity building
Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams
Founder and Executive Director
Taste Project

Bio

Jeff Williams, Founder and Executive Director of Taste Project, has always had a burden for feeding people. He grew up in a family of four, and both his parents worked hard to put food on the table. He remembers the times when food was scarce and his parents would skip meals to make sure he and his sister were full.

Jeff understands first-hand the stress his parents encountered to put food on the table in tough times.

And it’s a familiar story of many of our neighbors in need. Soup kitchens are good, but not everyone feels good about going there.

That’s why, in 2012, Jeff founded Taste Project, a sustainable solution to ensure none of our neighbors go hungry. But Jeff also wanted a place that eliminated the stress and fear his parents faced. A friendly place that feels like you’ve just come home. And a place where you can get more than just a meal, but also hope.

His vision for Taste Project is different than a growing, profit generating, Italian restaurant. His vision is not a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen; but a place where every day folks eat; and those who could not afford to eat there, could still enjoy a meal in the restaurant. In June 2012, Jeff launched Taste Project; and in December 2017, the organization launched Taste Community Restaurant.

More than 125,000 people have dined at Taste Project’s Taste Community Restaurant in Fort Worth since opening in 2017 and nearly 3,000 people have volunteered. To serve and engage even more Tarrant County residents, the organization will expand with a second location in Arlington, TX scheduled to open in early 2024.

 

What is a Regional Center for Expertise (RCE)?

An RCE is a collection of organizations in a particular region that are committed to the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] s). This can include local governments, institutions of higher learning, nonprofits, for-profits, and other groups. The idea behind an RCE [Regional Center for Expertise] is that the organizations can meet and gather to discuss how to implement sustainability at a regional level. RCEs have four elements: governance, collaboration, research and development, and transformative education. There are 127 RCEs around the world.

The North Texas Regional Center for Expertise

Logo for the North Texas Regional Center for Expertise

The North Texas Regional Center for Expertise (RCE North Texas) is a collaborative effort by the University of Texas at Dallas Office of Sustainability and the University of Texas at Arlington Office of Sustainability to bring together sustainability stakeholders in North Texas to discuss regional problems and solutions. Resources and bandwidth are shared between these stakeholders to enact regional change. The RCE [Regional Center for Expertise] is divided into working groups by SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] and includes a Youth Network, which aims to connect youth (K-12, colleges and universities, and early career professionals) in North Texas who share a sustainability passion. RCE Summits are held annually to give members an opportunity to collaborate for and discuss sustainability issues.

Mission: We connect organizations in North Texas to enable healthier communities, shared value and sustainable development through education, collaboration and capacity building.

Vision: A healthy, equitable and resilient North Texas.

RCE North Texas currently focuses on the following five SDGs: