Sustainability advocate Georgeann Moss retired from Dallas College last week after 25 years. Photo courtesy of Georgeann Moss.
March 1, 2023
Twenty five years ago, Senior Director of Sustainability wasn’t even a position at Dallas College. But Georgeann Moss, who was hired as a media relations specialist in 1998, was able to carve out a niche as a volunteer that turned into an environmental advocate’s dream job.
By the time Moss arrived at what was then called the Dallas County Community College District, she had already built a career in environmental education and outreach at her former job at Dallas Water Utilities. There, she made hundreds of presentations on water conservation during her nearly 10-year tenure. She also marketed and managed the youth education conservation education programs. Five years into her job with the city, in 1994, she founded the annual Water Wise Landscape Tour, which will celebrate 30 years next year.
Once she arrived at Dallas College, her passion for environment education continued. She launched the college's first Sustainability Summit and led a district-wide green team for two decades — all as a volunteer, working in her free time while still managing her other department job.
Then in 2017, a new paid position was created and Moss was promoted to Executive Administrator of Sustainability Outreach and Initiatives. After the school consolidated its campuses in 2020, she was promoted to Senior Director of Sustainability.
Moss retired from Dallas College last week.
We asked her about the ground she broke at the community college and what her plans are for post-retirement.
GSDFW: YOU WERE HIRED IN 1998 IN A MARKETING/PR POSITION AND 2000 IN INTERNET PUBLISHING, CORRECT?
GM: Yes, I came on board in June of 1998 in a media relations position. I became the founding director of the Internet Publishing Team (now known as Digital Communications) in 2000. While still in that position, two colleagues and I created the volunteer district-wide Sustainability Team in 2007, under the executive sponsorship of Dr. Justin Lonon, who is now our Chancellor. He has always been a champion for our work and understands the important role higher education must play in teaching people what sustainability is and how to achieve it.
Georgeann Moss, left, receives congratulations from Memnosyne Institute cofounder Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk for winning the Green Source DFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Photo by Libbie Simonton.
GSDFW: IN 2000, YOU HELPED ORGANIZE A SUSTAINABILITY CONFERENCE AT DCCCD, PARTNERING WITH AN OUTSIDE GROUP. THE CONFERENCE WAS HELD FOR FOUR YEARS, CORRECT?
GM: Yes, Dallas College (then DCCCD) hosted the Sustainable Dallas Conference for four years (twice at the Bill Priest Institute and twice at Richland College) from 2000 to 2004.
My dear friends Margie Haley, Gary Olp and Tom Kemper were the co-chairs of the event, which was first held in 1997 at the Texas Discovery Garden. I asked them if they would like to host the next one at Dallas College, and they enthusiastically agreed.
Margie was the spark plug for the event. In 1998, after Al Gore, co-chair of the President's Council on Sustainability, urged cities across the United States to host sustainability summits, she recruited Tom, CEO of Dolphin Blue, and Gary, principle of GGO Architects, to be her co-chairs and invited the regional Environmental Protection Agency to launch a conference in Dallas.
They made a commitment to each other to produce the event for at least five years, because they wanted the idea to take root and grow — to become sustainable. They wanted some other person or entity to take up the challenge of hosting an annual sustainability conference and they knew that couldn’t happen if they only hosted a single conference.
They created an organization called Sustainable Dallas and went on to host a Sustainability Summit annually through 2004. Attendance peaked at around 350.
Their goal was finally realized in 2011, when Dallas College began hosting the annual Sustainability Summit, which is still in existence and free and open to the public through the generous contributions of our beloved sponsors and media partners like Green Source DFW.
Dallas College’s 2022 Sustainability Summit was our most successful event ever! Although bad weather limited our in-person attendance to around 250, our online attendance was more than 10,000!! We attribute that to our fabulous keynote speakers Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Seth Godin.
Margie, Tom and Gary, consider yourselves successful! You’re dream was achieved.
Georgeann Moss celebrates at the 2017 Green Source DFW Awards after Dallas County Community College District wins an award for its homegrown Sustainability Summit. Photo by Karl Thibodeaux.
GSDFW: YOU LED THE VOLUNTEER DISTRICT-WIDE GREEN TEAM FOR 10 YEARS WHILE MAINTAINING YOUR FULL TIME JOB POSITION IN INTERNET PUBLISHING. THEN IN 2017, A NEW POSITION WAS CREATED AND YOU BECAME DALLAS COLLEGE’S FIRST DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABILITY.
GM: Yes, I became Dallas College’s first ever district level position in 2017 after a nationwide search.
IN 2020, WHEN DALLAS COLLEGE’S CAMPUSES CONSOLIDATED, THE SUSTAINABILITY COORDINATORS AT 5 OUT OF 7 CAMPUSES WERE BROUGHT TOGETHER UNDER ONE OFFICE AND NEW STAFF WAS HIRED AS WELL TO FOCUS ON VARIOUS ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABILITY.
When DCCCD consolidated into one college in 2020, all five campus sustainability positions were brought together under me in a new organization called Social Responsibility and Inclusion, which is led by Marisol Romany. She oversees the three areas that are the three major components of sustainability: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Equity), Supplier Diversity (Economy) and Sustainability (Environment). All three areas work closely together and support each other. I think it is a brilliant organizational structure. It was created by Dr. Lonon during the reorganization.
GSDFW: HOW MANY STAFF MEMBERS ARE THERE IN THE SUSTAINABILITY DEPARTMENT NOW?
GM: There are six: Ingrid Alcocer Loredo, Faye Davis Bajo, Sonia Ford, Neil Kaufman, Lori Delacruz Lewis, Brandon Morton and the Senior Director position. It’s a fabulous team, and I’m so proud of all their accomplishments!
We also have two other sustainability positions in the Facilities Department. Ted Spradley is the Recycling Coordinator and Garrett Rosser is the Energy Manager.
Georgeann Moss, right, with Dr. Brenda Floyd, one of the sustainability project managers at Eastfield College, greet visitors at EarthX. Courtesy of Lori Delacruz Lewis.
GSDFW: WHAT OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS DO YOU CONSIDER HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER AT DALLAS COLLEGE WITH REGARDS TO ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES AND EDUCATION?
GM: Some of them don’t sound like they’re innovative now, but at the time, they were. For example, while still in Internet Publishing, I was co-chair of the project to move us to a paperless system for vacation and leave approvals. We saved lots of trees with that one! But now almost everything we do is paperless.
I also worked closely with Facilities on our last electricity contract. We now purchase Renewable Energy Credits to offset the carbon emissions from our electricity purchases. But I feel certain that by the next time the contract comes up for renewal, the cost of purchasing renewable energy that is new to the grid will be much less than the cost of fossil fuel energy. The RECs are a great step forward in our journey to sustainability and fortunately, now there are many more options for purchasing renewable energy that are good for the health and prosperity of our community as well as Dallas College’s bottom line.
We also completed the college’s first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System peer-reviewed self-assessment last year and earned a Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. This is a testament to the work done by the campus sustainability coordinators over the years and the faculty and staff who have embraced sustainability and developed ways to teach it to our students and model it in our operations.
I’m really proud of our new urban agriculture program that works at the nexus of agriculture, food security, wellness and sustainable landscaping.
And finally, I’m really proud of the educational content we produced: the annual Sustainability Summit and other special events like Arbor Day celebrations; the more than 100 hours of video content we produced with local and national experts for the Sustainable U educational program; and all the fabulous tools and courses we created for faculty that offered suggestions on how to incorporate sustainability into their courses.
GSDFW: WHAT'S IT LIKE KNOWING YOU’RE LEAVING BEHIND A GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE THAT WILL BE SELF SUSTAINING AFTER YOU LEAVE?
Dr. Jasmine Parker, Dallas College’s Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, left, is among the colleagues that gathered for Georgeann Moss's retirement party last week. Photo by Wendel Withrow.
GM: I am filled with gratitude that Dallas College gave me the opportunity to marshal the people and resources to formalize the Sustainable Dallas College initiatives. I was lucky enough to lead the creation of two new departments – the Internet Publishing Team and the Sustainability Team – and I am so happy that both are thriving and will continue to thrive in the future. It makes me feel as if my work made a difference, which is the best feeling in the world!
GSDFW: HOW WILL YOUR INTEREST IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANIFEST ITSELF AFTER YOUR RETIREMENT?
GM: My husband King and I plan to travel more (using carbon offset credits for travel of course!). I’m participating in the Dallas County Master Gardener program. And I’m committed to several volunteer projects with local environmental groups and at my spiritual community.
I’ll be chairing Dallas College’s soon-to-be created Sustainability Advisory Council.
All my retired friends assure me that I’ll be as busy as I want to be.
GSDFW: ARE THERE ANY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES OR GREEN TRENDS YOU’RE INTERESTED IN FOLLOWING?
GM: Thanks for asking! The transition to a clean energy economy has and continues to be my top interest. I just learned of a new joint study published by five Texas universities. It’s called “The Future of Geothermal in Texas: The Coming Century of Growth & Prosperity in the Lone Star State.” One of Dallas College’s geology professors, Daniel Murphy told me that:
Texas is perfectly poised to be the leader in a geothermal revolution.
The requisite heat is only 2-3 km below the surface here, and oil companies are already drilling close to that depth in several locations. The IEA and UT, TAMU, SMU, Rice, and UH just released a joint report on Monday that is really quite exciting (I’ve only read the summary thus far). We could solve the carbon problem now, right here. In Texas. Not 2050. Now. We don’t need to wait for an increase in technology. We already have it ready to go and at industry levels and distribution. eothermal is probably the answer.
We’ve always said that there is no silver bullet, and I still agree with that statement. We need all the above.
But utility scale geothermal energy could be the game changer that tips the scales. It would allow fossil fuel companies to continue to use almost the same business model and make tons of money.
When that happens, I think the switch to a clean energy economy will happen faster than the International Energy Agency has predicted because geothermal can shore up the grid during the times where the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
NOTE: Dallas College is searching for a new Senior Director of Sustainability. The position should be posted within the next couple of weeks on the Dallas College job site.
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