Institute for Sustainability 2020

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Headshot of Natale Zappia


For two decades, Professor Natale Zappia has directed, created, and participated in multiple projects related to food systems, urban farming, environmental sustainability, and food justice. Between 2008-10 he served as the Executive Director of the Garden School Foundation (GSF), a 501(c)(3) developing garden-based curricula for students of need in South Los Angeles. Between 2013-16, he also served on the Board of Directors for GSF, heading up the strategic planning committee. Since 2007, he has also served as a UC Certified Master Gardener on numerous urban farming projects across Los Angeles County, including at elementary and high schools, homeless shelters, community centers like the Boys & Girls Club, and local colleges.

More recently, Zappia has co-founded and launched Open Gaärden, a history app connecting urban garden spaces with historical environments in Los Angeles and around the world. As the Director for the IS at CSUN, Zappia is involved in numerous campus-wide, regional, and national sustainability projects, including overseeing climate and CO2 reduction initiatives.

Headshot of Sarah Johnson

Lead Sustainability Specialist

Sarah has worked at the Institute since its inception in 2009. As the Sustainability Program Analyst, she works with campus departments and community organizations to implement sustainability initiatives, programs, and events. Sarah helped develop CSUN's 10-Year Sustainability Plan, which began in 2013 and is tasked with achieving the goals set forth in the plan. She is also responsible for educating and engaging students, employees, and the community while reducing the university's environmental impact. She oversees student assistants working on research, outreach, gardening, and event planning.

Sarah is passionate about reducing food waste and food insecurity; she has coordinated orange picks in the CSUN Orange Grove for the last 10 years. Volunteers have harvested over 175 tons of oranges that have been donated to feed the community. In her free time she enjoys camping, hiking, working in her garden, and raising butterflies. 

Mabel Trigueros - Administrative Support Coordinator & Climate Adaptation and Sustainable Food Coordinator 


Elizaveta Pabon - Student Assistant

Elizaveta, usually goes by a shorter version of her name - Liza (pronounced: Lee-zah), joined the institute for Sustainability in the beginning of 2023. Her role at the Institute is to manage the Institute's social media and newsletter The Footprint. After receiving her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Elizaveta wants to continue working in the Sustainability field, bringing humans and nature closer together for harmonious co-existence. In her free time she likes thrifting, gardening, and spending time with her two dogs - Bambi and Giuseppe. 

California Climate Action Corps Fellows

Headshot of Alex Plaza

CSUN Compost Program Fellow