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Sustainability Leadership Center Staff

Heather Spalding
Sustainability Leadership and Outreach Coordinator 

503-725-5598 |

Heather oversees the Sustainability Leadership Center, a department that bridges student life and sustainability at PSU. Through events, partnerships, field trips, and programs such as the Sustainability Volunteer Program and the EcoRep Program, the SLC offers a variety of hands-on learning opportunities for students. Heather also works to integrate sustainability into PSU’s Enrollment Management and Student Affairs division. She has a Bachelor of Science from Portland State University and is a candidate for a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education. When not collaborating to create culture shifts at PSU, Heather can be found gardening, reading, writing, thinking about systems, creating art, hiking, practicing yoga, and taking care of her ducks.


Val Holdahl
Volunteer Coordinator

Val is a senior psychology major and is double minoring in criminal justice and sociology. During her time at PSU she has dabbled in several areas, but her favorite has been participating in Student Leaders for Service. Val’s academic interests include service learning, organizational psychology, social justice, and assessment. Val’s expected graduation is spring 2014 and she hopes to pursue a master’s in public administration with a focus on law. Val enjoys spending time trying new beers, hiking, and zombie apocalypses. If you ever need a good tour of Portland or PSU you should definitely find Val, because as much as she does not like to admit it, she really enjoys schmoozing and showing off all of her knowledge. Val’s goals this year include learning more about sustainability theory, strengthening personal sustainability, being a proactive advocate and leader around sustainability, and participating more in the waste management movement on campus.


Kevin Thomas
Cultural Sustainability Coordinator
503-725-8556 |

Kevin is working toward a Ph.D. in the Urban Studies program at Portland State University. He also received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Indigenous Nations Studies from PSU. Originally from Philadelphia, Kevin has lived in Portland since 2000. He is the father of two young children in the Portland Public School system, one in elementary and one in middle school. During his “free time” Kevin likes to attend anything to do with Star Trek (original) and dine in the Food For Thought student café in the Smith building.


Kristen Purdy
EcoReps Coordinator

Kristen has been involved with EcoReps since her arrival at Portland State in fall 2012. The program has helped her gain skills as a sustainability leader, and the connections she has made through the program have led to amazing friendships. She is studying environmental science and loves to make connections between what she is learning inside and outside of class. Kristen is currently exploring green careers for her future. Her interests are vast, and she is currently learning about sustainable business, sustainable leadership, education, urban development, energy, waste management, conservation, and food systems. Her goals with EcoReps include gaining visionary and planning skills and being as helpful as she can while the EcoReps grow. Kristen enjoys exploring Portland, binge-watching television on Netflix, and cooking for her friends.

Hunter Hess

A native of Portland, Oregon, Hunter is a marketing major with a passion for sustainability. Introduced to photography at a young age, Hunter uses his imagery and design aesthetic to communicate sustainability initiatives to fellow students at PSU. After studying photography in San Francisco, he traveled abroad, teaching English in Jordan, fighting wildfires, and working on a fishing boat in Alaska, before landing at PSU to pursue a business degree. First introduced to the Institute for Sustainable Solutions through the Solutions Generator program, Hunter has since become the publicist for the Sustainability Leadership Center. His passions include his wife, snowboarding, motorcycle repair, as well as hunting and fishing.


Tanya Murray
Food Systems Coordinator

After nearly a decade of growing organic vegetables on Sauvie Island, Tanya began the Master of Business Administration program at PSU with the intention of honing her business skills in order to help promote the economic viability of local farms and regional food systems. As the Sustainability Leadership Center’s food systems coordinator, Tanya is excited to share her passion for sustainable food systems with students and promote access to good, clean, and fair food across the PSU campus. In addition to enjoying cooking, eating, and sharing in the bounty of foods from the Pacific Northwest region, Tanya also spends time running long distances and looks forward to running the Portland Marathon each October.


Kenzie Eiden
Garden Coordinator

Kenzie is in her last year of PSU’s community development program, and can’t wait to share what she has learned about healthy communities and the politics of engagement. While an Oregonian at heart, she has hopes of traveling to Latin America and continuing to learn about sustainability from Indigenous perspectives. In her free time, Kenzie enjoys painting, forest hiking, gardening, learning how to identify mushrooms, and cooking. She loves to explore new aspects of sustainability with topics like permaculture, holistic medicine, and natural building. One of the best parts about working at the SLC is getting to hear the unique ways in which different people incorporate sustainability into their philosophy or lifestyle. 


Amanda Tripp Johansson 
Graduate Assistant

Amanda fell in love with nature growing up hunting, fishing, and camping in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. Amanda earned her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Political Science at Pacific University where she participated in service learning courses in Ecuador, Ghana, and on the Navajo Nation. After graduating, Amanda carried her passion for community forward, serving two years in AmeriCorps teaching environmental education in K-12 schools. Amanda is a second year graduate student earning her degree in Educational Leadership and Policy with an emphasis in Leadership for Sustainability Education. She is excited to deepen her experience of collaboration and community building on campus through the Student Sustainability Leadership Council. Outside of PSU, Amanda can be found practicing kundalini yoga, exploring Mount Tabor, floating the Sandy River, disc golfing, and adventuring with her beloved husband.

Ankita Guchait
Interim Marketing and Outreach Coordinator

Ankita is a passionate learner from the city of dreams—Mumbai, India. She came to PSU to pursue her undergraduate degree in psychology. She has been actively involved with the Sustainability Leadership Center since her freshman year. Her first involvement was as a volunteer in the Sustainability Volunteering Program. The following term she became an intern for the program and then became the interim marketing and outreach coordinator. In her free time she loves hiking, networking, socializing, meeting people from various cultures and nations, and studying science.