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michael mendoza

Michael Mendoza – Sustainability Manager

Michael joined the Office of Sustainability team as the sustainability manager in November 2017.

He has a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Houston and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Florida. He worked for seven years in the restaurant industry in Florida before moving to Houston in 2014.

After spending a year as a middle school teacher in Houston, he decided to pursue a career in higher education administration. While pursuing his master’s degree in higher education at UH, he worked as a graduate assistant for facilities and operations at the UH Student Centers, where he helped manage the Student Centers’ sustainability programs.

“They were just starting a sustainability program, and I became the champion for that program,” he said. “It went really well and got me interested in sustainability. We put recycling bins all around the Student Center, created a lunch and learn for sustainability topics, brought in an eco-artist to speak about using recycled magazines to create artwork, and partnered with a master’s in graphic design class to install a sustainable art exhibit.”

The Office of Sustainability has been the driving force behind many important achievements in sustainability and conservation. As sustainability manager, Michael hopes to not only continue that success but also take it to the next level.

“We’ve done a really great job of educating the campus community of sustainability practices,” he said. “Adopting thoughtful behaviors and going green is something relevant and important to every individual. I hope this office can implement action that will truly elevate UH as a sustainable campus.”

Contact Michael:
832.842.9051 (Office)


Melissa Halstead – Sustainability Coordinator

In June 2016, Melissa joined the University of Houston Office of Sustainability where she serves as the Sustainability Coordinator. As a native Houstonian, Melissa is passionate about creating impactful sustainability initiatives that benefit both the University of Houston and the community.  Melissa’s role includes developing and implementing sustainability plans; promoting community awareness through events; leading outreach and communication initiatives; and acting as a liaison between the University, the Greater Houston community and the Office of Sustainability.

Melissa holds a B.S. in Nutrition Science from The University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Liberal Arts in Sustainability and Environmental Management from Harvard University Extension School, and completed a graduate internship in Dietetics from the University of Maryland at College Park. Melissa's is also a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a graduate certificate in Green Building and Community Sustainability. Melissa serves on the executive committee of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition dietetic practice group within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is an active committee member for the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability. Melissa enjoys gardening, hiking, traveling, exploring new cultures and spending time with her family.

“Sustainability is a lifestyle that incorporates an understanding that human survival is dependent on everything – the interconnectedness between our environment, our society, and our economy. The Office of Sustainability is a catalyst for conversations that help cultivate awareness enabling our future leaders to thrive throughout the Houston community.”

Contact Melissa:
832.842.9051 (Office)

Gabriel Durham – Sustainability Coordinator

Gabriel started as Sustainability Coordinator in July 2018, though his history with the University of Houston, and the Office of Sustainability go back much further.

After earning his undergraduate degree in Anthropology here at UH, Gabriel returned to the university a second time in 2013 to complete a Master’s Degree in Anthropology focusing on the intersection of human and natural systems. While completing this degree he worked as the office’s Graduate Assistant, completing the 2015 STARS report and helping with other office initiatives. During this time he also served as a teaching assistant and conducted various research projects, at UH and abroad, on topics from public health to human adaptability in the face of climate change.

Gabriel’s present role in the office is focused on outreach and engagement. If you are looking for information on sustainability events and efforts on campus, or are simply curious about sustainability, please be sure to contact him using the information below.

"When I started, the number one mission of any sustainability office was simply to educate people on what sustainability actually was! Now, that is still a big part of our mission, but we are branching out to accomplish some real meaningful change in our surrounding community and beyond.”

And what does sustainability mean to Gabriel?

“Lots of experts have very good definitions of sustainability so look those up! But what they are all hinting at is a necessary cultural sift. Whether it’s solar energy, recycling, or alternative transportation, each of these efforts is about getting people to adopt new behavior that will have a positive impact on people, planet, and prosperity.”

Contact Gabriel:
713.743.6985 (Office)

Student sustainability team

At the heart of the office, the student sustainability team offers a unique and essential perspective to the sustainability conversation at the university and represents a diverse set of academic backgrounds.


Diego Rivera – Outreach Assistant   diegorivera

Degree: Pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography/digital media.

What are some of your hobbies?
Photography, filming, sketching with pen or charcoal, painting, reading, writing, exploring.

What’s your favorite quote or saying?
"All the gods, all the heavens, all the hells, are within you." – Joseph Campbell

What’s your dream job?
My dream job would be traveling the world as a photographer.

What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means being able to engage in a symbiotic relationship with the world around you.


EmilyEmily Blanco – Outreach Assistant    

Degree: Pursuing a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in History Minor: Philosophy       

What are some of your hobbies?
I like to spend my free time reading business and law journals, keeping up with the media, and blogging. I also enjoy shopping. 

What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“I feel small; but so are stars from a distance” – Asterismos 

What’s your dream job?
My dream job would be being partner at a Law firm representing large scale fashion companies combing my passion for law and the entertainment world or a princess. 

What does sustainability mean to you?
Making the most of our environment without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 


Auxiliary Services Marketing and Communications Team – Sustainability Support Staff

  • Maria Honey, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, Office of Administration
  • Jessica Wyble, Communications Manager
  • Richard Zagrzecki, Communications Coordinator
  • Mallory Doeckel, Communications Coordinator
  • Loraine Crutchfield, Marketing Coordinator