Dave Cortez, Chapter Director, He/Him
Dave Cortez is a 3rd generation El Pasoan now based out of Austin where he lives with his partner and almost 3 year old daughter. He grew up and learned organizing on the frontera, where industrial pollution, poverty, gentrification, racism and the border wall are seen as intersecting issues. Dave serves as the Director of the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, and has been organizing in the Texas environmental movement for 16 years. The recent winter storm was the latest example of a crisis of multiple intersecting struggles. While Dave and his family were without power for about 60 hours and without water for several days, the trauma and stress of protecting his toddler daughter from the stress of the storm still lingers. Dave is supporting staff and volunteers across Texas who are organizing to center racial justice and equity alongside frontline communities directly impacted by polluting industries.
Natalie Martinez, Senior Chapter Coordinator, She/Her
Natalie graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a dual degree in Clinical Nutrition and Culinary Arts and Business Management. While in school, she became an advocate for supporting sustainable farming and restaurant practices, while exploring the health and environmental benefits of the plant-based diet. After graduation, she ran a small nutrition program called Nourish Nutrition Solutions that offered free plant-based cooking lessons, recipes, and nutrition plans, while emphasizing the importance of living green in your kitchen and beyond. She was the Lone Star Chapter’s Administrative Assistant for two years from 2017-2019. Natalie manages the daily operations and administrative processes of the Lone Star Chapter in addition to providing member, volunteer, fundraising, and financial management support for the Texas Sierra Club.
Cyrus Reed, Ph.D., Conservation Director, He/Him
Cyrus has a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin, with a focus on water policy and the dispute over the Rio Grande water with Mexico. Prior to becoming conservation director, he served as Sierra Club's lobbyist on energy and air quality issues during the 2005, 2007 legislative sessions, and directed the Texas Center for Policy Studies, an environmental policy and advocacy organization based in Austin, for five years. He is presently working on energy issues and their impacts. Cyrus has also worked as a journalist and has spent considerable time in Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Shane Johnson, Distributed Clean Energy Organizer, He/Him
Shane leads community organizing in Austin, Denton, Garland, and Bryan and supports organizing in San Antonio to achieve 100% renewable energy goals in each city. He will particularly focus on base building to develop self-sustaining networks of activists and build political power with communities harmed first and worst by pollution and climate change. Shane is a native Austinite and has been community organizing since high school when he first joined the Austin Beyond Coal Campaign. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics. Since moving back to Austin at the end of 2016, he has dived back into community advocacy at the local- and state-levels as a volunteer on the policy team of the criminal justice reform and black empowerment organization Austin Justice Coalition, a board member of Indivisible Austin, and a new member of the City of Austin's Resource Management Commission.
Neil Carman, Clean Air Director, He/Him
Neil is involved in a broad range of Texas air quality issues including: reviewing emissions and technical data on industrial sources of air pollution and particularly their impacts on communities of color and low-income neighborhoods; commenting on one-hour ozone nonattainment programs; implementation of the new EPA eight-hour ozone standard; EPA's Title V federal air operating permit program; educational outreach to Sierra Club members on local air quality; evaluating air toxics monitoring around industrial sources; working with citizens to train them how to take air samples near industrial sources; and more.
Matt Johnson, Deputy Director, He/Him
As Deputy Director, Matt carries out the policies, priorities, and objectives of the Chapter for key chapter programs and operations, including the legislative and political programs, individual charitable giving, major donor and political fundraising, base building, power building, and communications. Prior to joining the Sierra Club, Matt was a Sr. Account Executive at the clean technology communications and market intelligence firm Mercom Capital Group. He also worked for Public Citizen’s Texas Office and the Environmental & Energy Study Institute in Washington, DC. Matt is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Zimbabwe) and holds an MA in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute as well as a BA in History from Augustana College.
Alex Ortiz (JD), Chapter Water Resources Specialist, He/Him
Alex Ortiz (he/him/his) serves as the Lone Star Chapter’s lead coordinator on both our Texas Living Waters project, focused on water supply and flood control, and our Sustainable Management and Resilient Texas Waters project, focused on water quality standards, discharge permits and the impacts of oil and gas development on water supply and quality. After several years without a dedicated water staff person, the Lone Star Chapter is excited to have Alex join team Texas! Alex is originally from the Rio Grande Valley city of McAllen, TX, but he grew up all over South and Central Texas. Growing up in various natural landscapes of Texas gave Alex an appreciation for both the differences and similarities across the state from the Coastal Plains to the Hill Country. Alex has a BA in Linguistics from New York University and a JD from Tulane University Law School where he also received a Certificate in Environmental Law. His studies at Tulane focused heavily on the intersection of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Prior to joining the Sierra Club, he also volunteered with Healthy Gulf to work on Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico water quality issues, founded Eco-SCI, a nonprofit aimed at educating students on how to participate in both federal and state rulemaking processes, and taught a legal studies pre-college seminar at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Dr. Ken Kramer, Chapter Director (Retired), He/Him
Ken retired as Chapter Director in 2012 and volunteered as the Chapter's Water Resources Chair for over 10 years following his retirement, stepping down from that position in January 2023. He now serves as the Chapter's volunteer History Chair. Ken has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rice University and his special area of interest during his academic career teaching and conducting research at Texas state universities was environmental policy and administration. He has over 40 years experience working on water and other environmental issues as an academic, an environmental group leader, and public policy specialist. He has been appointed to numerous task forces and advisory committees by Texas state officials, including the Governor of Texas and the Speaker of the Texas House. He currently is a member of the board of the Texas Water Foundation.
Emma Pabst, Texas Field Manager, She/Her or They/Them
Emma serves as the Field Manager for Sierra Club's national campaigns in Texas, where she works to coordinate statewide organizing efforts to move beyond fossil fuels. As a lifelong Texan, Emma has dedicated her career to tackling climate change in Texas -- the biggest oil state in the nation. From taking on gas and coal fired power plants to tackling damaging methane pollution, her work aims to protect the things that make Texas great: our clear blue skies, wide open spaces, and all of the wonderful people that call Texas home. Emma attended the University of Texas where she earned her Bachelor's in African Diaspora Studies with a minor in Rhetoric and a focus on environmental racism.
Agripina Gomez, Rio Grande Valley Clean Energy Organizer, She/Her
Born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and raised on the frontera in Matamoros and Port Isabel, Texas, Agripina calls both places home. She graduated from Valley Baptist Medical Center School of Vocational Nursing and has organized in the Rio Grande Valley for colonia (low-income neighborhood) infrastructure, unpaid wages, Get Out the Vote campaigns, the 2020 census, and immigration issues. Agripina finds a sense of belonging through grassroots organizing for her community. In her free time she enjoys the beach with her family, gardening, and candle-making. “The Rio Grande Valley is a sacred place that we must protect,” Agripina says. “And although everyone here welcomes you with an open heart, our community has been militarized and underserved with resources. Growing up, I always wanted to do something meaningful with my life. In organizing and fighting for my rights, I found my voice that I thought I never had. Whether it is saving lives on the frontline or organizing in my community, I feel it is my life’s mission on this planet to leave the world a little better for our generations to come. My drive for this work are my two children and my parents – I want to make them proud. I want my children to enjoy their lifetime on this planet with clean air and water, without worrying about crossing borders or unjust policies that affect their lives.” You can connect with Agripina on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Becky Bullard, Chapter Communications Manager (she/her)
As Communications Manager for the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Becky Bullard is responsible for creating and managing the Chapter's external communications strategies. Becky spent most of her career as a copywriter and communications strategist for big brands and ad agencies, earning national recognition for her creative advertising and PR work. A political awakening after the 2016 election inspired Becky to leave her corporate career to co-found a creative civic engagement organization called Rouser. Rouser was featured in a Richard Linklater-produced documentary called "The Pushback," profiled in Austin Woman Magazine, and recognized by Women Communicators of Austin for its creativity and impact mobilizing voters and activists. While at Rouser, Becky was a co-host of "The Rabble" Texas politics podcast where she interviewed notable folks like A'shanti Gholar and Wendy Davis and emceed events for Supermajority, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Texas Observer, and others. Becky went on to found Democrasexy in late 2021, producing content and events like Y'allentines Day, Texorcism, and Tex Support that demystify Texas politics and infuse joy and optimism into the work of advocating for women, queer folks, and other marginalized communities. She also serves on the City of Austin's Commission for Women and writes about the intersection of feminism and politics. The Center for Artistic Activism has called Becky one of the country’s most innovative civic engagement advocates, or, as her two daughters like to tell people, "Our mom likes to wear sequins and help more people vote."