CSUDH Sustainability Manager Ellie Perry thinks that she has the “best job ever” as the person in charge of the university’s environmental initiatives and sustainability efforts.
“I like that every day there are new opportunities to make things better,” she says. “Even though our office has accomplished a lot in the five years that I’ve been here, we are still growing by leaps and bounds when it comes to our sustainability efforts as a campus.”
Perry spends much of her time keeping the lines of communication open with a wide variety of people, units, and departments from both on- and off-campus who are vital to ensuring that CSUDH delivers on its sustainability promises.
“Sustainability is one of our core values as a university,” she says. “It serves as a catalyst for our educational mission to support our underserved communities in so many ways. The students we serve are coming from communities that will be most impacted by climate change, energy costs, food insecurity, and so on. They have the most to gain from a campus that embraces sustainability both operational and culturally.”
When she’s not answering emails or attending Zoom meetings, Perry keeps tabs on a range of campus sustainability programs. She might pop up at the CSUDH Urban Farm, the weekly Farmers Market that she helped establish, campus physical facilities, or student outreach activities. It’s all in a day’s work.
Perry was introduced to her vocation while attending the University of California, San Diego, when she got a position as a sustainability intern at the school. “It completely opened my eyes to the field,” she says. “That’s why I’m always thrilled to be able to offer that same experience to the CSUDH interns who work in our office.”
In the few years since becoming the university’s first sustainability manager, Perry has positioned CSUDH as one of the national leaders in such efforts. “I’m very proud of the national and statewide recognition and awards we have received for our sustainability efforts, despite only have an Office of Sustainability for less than five years,” says Perry. “On a personal level, I am proud that we have a weekly Farmers Market, Campus Urban Farm, and zero waste system that continue to be a part of daily campus life.”
When she’s not helping position CSUDH as a national sustainability leader, Perry likes to spend time playing beach volleyball at Redondo or Hermosa Beach, which gives her an excuse to spend a lot of time by the ocean. She also enjoys baking, gardening, and hiking, “When I can spare time from managing my 14-month-old toddler!” she laughs.
Perry is also an avid scuba diver, and has been lucky enough to dive at some of the world’s best spots. One place still on her bucket list is the Red Sea, “which is supposed to be phenomenal,” she says. She also has a motorcycle license, which she obtained because they’re more fuel-efficient, “but I’m too risk-averse to actually manage one.”
She wakes up each morning full of inspiration, with visions of sustainability projects dancing in her head. “The earlier I get up, the more likely it is that I’ll get to work on projects and programming before my day gets jam-packed with meetings!”