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Meet Our Staff

Dr. Christa McDermott

Dr. Christa McDermott is a social psychologist whose work focuses on environmental behavior change at institutional and individual levels. She has a long history of involvement in environmental policy, the use of social science to inform behavior change, and advocacy for better materials management. As an APA Congressional Fellow and AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, she worked for Senator Robert Menendez, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy on projects that ranged from climate change policy to improving uptake of energy efficiency initiatives. While working in federal government, she kept active in local zero waste efforts, serving on the advisory board of SCRAP-DC, an affiliate of Portland’s SCRAP. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan where she conducted research on the relationship between personality and environmental attitudes and behaviors. She was hooked on reducing waste before graduate school, starting a recycling program at her undergraduate college and helping run an NCRA conference on recycling in California. As a psychologist, Dr. McDermott has a special interest in our emotional relationships with possessions, how we construct identities through consumption, and hoarding. She looks forward to working with CES students, PSU faculty, and community partners on using a lifecycle approach in materials management, improving social equity and environmental health while reducing waste, and finding ways to encourage re-use. She likes to process ideas by taking ‘walking meetings’ but know that if she invites you to one, she inevitably ends up with her hands full of litter picked up along the way and she might ask you to hold some when she spies that 'last' piece.

Contact Christa McDermott


Emily Murkland

As Projects Manager at CES, Emily oversees daily operations, project work, and staff. Emily currently manages the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project, the City of Portland Events Recycling Project, the City of Portland Sustainability Services Project, and various private Solid Waste Assessment contracts. Emily has worked on the Fairview Recycle at Work project, the EPA Pollution Prevention and Outreach project, and the Portland Multifamily Recycling project, in addition to Solid Waste Assessments.  She holds a Bachelors of Science in Community Development from Portland State University. Emily has also worked as an intern with ROSE CDC, SPI Industries, and SOLVE. In her free time she enjoys backpacking throughout the NW, spending time with her dog, and working on various crafting projects. 

Contact Emily Murkland

CES Student Staff:

Arlene Ammaya

 Arlene joined CES in August 2015 as Assistant Coordinator for the Portland Multifamily Recycling project and is pursuing a degree in Economics with minors in Math and Community Development at Portland State University. She is also currently an intern for the City’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.  Previously, Arlene has been involved with a variety of organizations that promote self-resiliency, sustainability, and Hispanic community involvement. Her current focus is in gaining experience in efficient resource management, effective community outreach, and applying a systems approach to problem-solving. In her free time, Arlene enjoys bike-riding, reading, traveling, multiple outdoor activities, and developing community education courses on a variety of subjects.



David "Doc" Billings       

David "Doc" Billings joined CES in the beginning of 2017, as the lead Graduate Research Assistant for the DEQ Food Waste Study. He was previously a graduate assistant and teaching assistant for the Sociology Department, where he is working on his Master's Degree in Sociology. Doc received his B.S. in Sociology from Portland State as well, in 2015. While working on this degree he was a board member of the PSU Sociology Club, an intern for the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, and he worked with the Learning Gardens Laboratory. Doc is interested urban sustainability, with a focus on food systems and social justice. He aims to pursue a career in urban planning after he graduates and marries his partner in the Fall of 2018. In Doc's free time he loves to play in the garden, go camping, and watch movies. 



Reed Brodersen

Reed joined CES in October of 2016 as a project support staff. Reed is a first year graduate student in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program, and holds bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He’s a Midwest transplant, making his way from Nebraska where he grew up, went to school and worked as an independent sustainability consultant. He’s happy to be closer to PNW’s mountains, forests and beaches, and enjoys spending time in the back-country, taking long road-trips and bicycling around Portland. Professionally, he is interested in making food systems more sustainable and equitable, with special interests in minimizing and diverting food waste. 



Monica Fleisher

Monica joined CES in July of 2016 as a Data & Materials Manager with the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project (PTAP).  Monica grew up in Richmond, Virginia and studied Environmental Planning & Policy at Virginia Tech, College of Architecture & Urban Studies. Before coming to CES, Monica worked with the On-Site Environmental team with the Virginia state government and served as an AmeriCorps member for Clark County in Vancouver, Washington and Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon. With Clark County’s Department of Environmental Services, she was focused on developing the county’s Green Business Program, promoting low impact practices and sustainability in the workplace. For Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability, Monica built capacity around green infrastructure planning, community engagement workshops, and climate resiliency public health programs in East County Portland. She is pursuing her Masters in Leadership for Sustainability Education at PSU.










Alhena Herrera 

Alhena Herrera recently joined the CES team as an administrative assistant in September 2015. She provides administrative and office support to CES and the Urban Studies Ph.D. library. Alhena is currently pursuing a dual degree in psychology and criminology. Prior to joining CES, Alhena received an Associate in Arts degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities, as well as an Associate in Science degree in Administration of Justice from Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. Alhena recently attended a policy seminar in Washington D.C. to advocate and represent the interests of low-income and first generation students in accessing higher education. In her free time Alhena enjoys hiking, hunting waterfalls, and taking road-trips. 



Andrew Hickey 

Andrew joined CES in 2015 as a project support staff before continuing on to the Materials Manager position at the Port of Portland. He previously worked for Trimet, and volunteers at Willamette Partnership, providing recommendations on the health benefits of nature and green infrastructure. He is pursuing his Masters in Urban Studies, and holds a bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Philosophy. His particular interests include policy interventions and outreach programs to minimize food waste, how to get the public to utilize parks and natural areas, as well as the intersection between social psychology and sustainability.








Madeleine Lawrence

Madeleine Lawrence is in her senior year of a B.A. in Spanish and Community Development. Madeleine joined CES in August of 2014 as a project support staff for the EPA grant Pollution Prevention Project in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resources Center and the EcoBiz program conducting outreach to automotive and landscaping businesses. She is also the project lead for the City of Portland Single-Family Can Weight Study and the Portland Multifamily Recycling project and provides assistance on toher CES projects.                

Julia Liu

Julia joined CES in 2017 as a project support staff. She is currently a fourth year at Portland State University majoring in Community Health Education, Health Science, and community Development. Her interest include international development and relief, waster issues, sustainable energy, and waste minimization. Julia currently works at a local solar farm and with  children of all ages with a focus on nutrition and advocacy for health, while incorporating waste management techniques. She hopes to pursue a master's in Urban and Regional Planning and Global Health. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, volunteering, and water sports.


Karissa Pavlik

Karissa joined CES as project support staff in 2015 to work on the Multnomah County Surplus Project, Solid Waste Assessments, and Portland Events Recycling. She is a freshman at Portland State pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Community Health Education with a minor in Sustainability. Karissa worked on the City of Hillsboro's Sustainability Task Force and Youth Advisory Council, as well as working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland to improve scholastic retention through the summer. Her interests include waste minimization and natural resource conservation. She hopes to earn a Masters of Business Administration and focus on environmental health policy in her career. 


Kelsey Hill 


An avid reader, military brat, and would-be environmental crusader, Kelsey Hill is furthering his studies in sustainable development and the global political ecology through the Masters of Public Administration program. Having worked with several other social service organizations including AmeriCorps, as well as being a rapacious volunteer, Kelsey is extremely dedicated to building a socially just, equitable, and healthy planet. Having joined CES in January of 2017, Kelsey is excited to learn more about waste management, and to be a part of a dedicated group of involved and talented individuals.


Virgina Saraswati

Virgina, or Gina for short, joined CES in 2016 as a project support staff and works on the Multifamily Research Project for Oregon Metro. She is a senior at Portland State University majoring in Economics and minoring in Sustainability. Her interests include sustainable economic development and how that relates to environmental protection. She is excited to help with waste reduction goals and the pursuit of better waste management. She volunteers at SOLVE’s office as a data specialist and is worked on a demographics research project over the summer in order to help their outreach efforts in under served communities. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, rock climb and go adventuring in the great outdoors.



Grace Stainback    

Grace joined CES in August of 2014 as an outreach and project support specialist for the EPA grant Pollution Prevention Project in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resources Center and the EcoBiz program. Grace also works on Solid Waste Assessments at CES from time to time. She is pursuing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at PSU. Prior to returning to school, Grace worked as an English teacher and at community development organizations domestically and abroad, and finds participating in outreach on behalf of CES in multicultural settings rewarding.


Stephen Ryan

Stephen joined CES as a project support staff in June 2016, working closely with Portland Event Recycling. He previously worked in retail management before returning to school and is working toward his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies. Stephen moved to Portland from Cincinnati three years ago. His current interests are hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. 


Jennifer Stefanick

Jennifer joined CES in March 2015 as the Portland Event Recycling project lead while pursuing a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies with a minor in sustainability from PSU with a long-term goal of working in community outreach and materials management. Jennifer’s passion for thoughtful consumption and sustainable behavior led her to becoming the sustainability coordinator for a large production catering kitchen in Portland where she additionally held down the position of lead pastry chef for over a decade. Jennifer also became a certified Master Recycler through the City of Portland in 2010 and continues to volunteer with numerous events and organizations working to guide the community towards waste reduction goals.




Tay Stone

Tay joined CES in October of 2014 and is currently the Materials Assessment Project Manager for CES' Solid Waste Assessments project. They are currently pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree after graduating in 2016 with a B.S. in Communication Studies and a minor in Sustainable Urban Development. Tay’s previous experience includes developing an energy efficiency best practices report for SoMa EcoDistrict, climate activism with 350PDX, and peer mentoring and education through PSU’s University Studies program. Their desired focus is sustainability project management and environmental policy.



Nate White

Nate joined CES as the Project Lead for the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project (PTAP) in July 2016. Nate grew up in the Portland, OR area and received a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Prior to working at CES, Nate worked in the institutional sustainability and renewable energy fields, most recently working at his Alma Mater running a grant program that funded student sustainability projects. Nate is pursuing a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning and is interested in trails and open space acquisition and connectivity. In his spare time, Nate enjoys biking, walking, paddling, music, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.