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.”
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.”