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.

Headshot of Helen Simonyan

Administrative Support Coordinator


Headshot of Yesenia Mateo

Outreach Assistant


Headshot of Elline Deogracias

Sustainable Fashion Program Research Assistant

Elline is a Research and Marketing Assistant at the Institute for Sustainability. She manages the Institute's main social media accounts, writes the monthly newsletter (The Footprint), and helps coordinate and market events with campus partners. Currently, Elline is conducting research focusing on corporate social responsibility with Dr. Tracie Tung from CSUN's Family and Consumer Sciences Department. As a Business Law undergrad, she plans on going to law school and becoming an environmental attorney.

Headshot of Karina Jimenez

Sustainable Garden Grower


Lead Instructor

Frida Endinjok is a Global Health doctoral student at Oregon State University. She has a bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics, which fuels her passion for sustainable food systems. She is part of the Zoom/Pandemic Class of 2020 with a Master of Public Health from California State University, Northridge. She is the Lead Instructor for the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture AFFP Program hosted in partnership with CSUN Institute for Sustainability. During her undergraduate, she developed the “Let’s Grow Healthy” program that delivers hands-on garden enhanced nutrition education at local schools. At CSUN, she coordinates the MMC Wellness Garden that offers gardening workshops, produce, and projects for the CSUN community. She is a co-founder of the Food Recovery Network chapter at her university with the goal of diverting edible food from the landfill to food-insecure people. She is always looking for opportunities to use her voice and make a change.



Headshot of Alex Plaza

Volunteer Associate

Headshot of Danielle Levy

Volunteer Associate