The Notre Dame Sustainability Team partners across the institution to advance strategic sustainability initiatives.
As valued partners, we convene with cross-functional teams to expand the capacity of operational sustainability work. Together, we collaborate to identify common goals toward improved sustainability progress, and consider strategic sustainability opportunities.
As subject matter experts, we offer and connect with industry expertise to support strategic initiatives. Additionally, we measure performance and progress to identify successes and opportunities for improvement.
As educators, we communicate and engage to build community understanding and promote sustainability-minded solutions.
We adapt to the changing needs of the institution. Currently, we collaborate with key partners in the following work areas:
Storytelling & Student Connection
Recycling & Waste
Data-informed Decision Making
Strategic Sustainability Action Planning
Our team members are fairly new to our roles at Notre Dame. We are excited to collaborate and more fully communicate our work. We appreciate your patience as we become acquainted with the Notre Dame ecosystem.
Senior Director, Sustainability
Geory Kurtzhals joined the Notre Dame Sustainability Team as the Senior Director in July 2022. In this role, she oversees the strategic and managerial direction for the team while focusing on partnerships with campus groups and individuals to advance campus sustainability.
Geory comes to Notre Dame from Sustain IU, where she was an Assistant Director and Sustainability Analyst. Prior to that, she served as Director of the Office of Sustainability at Southern Illinois University. Geory is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
Geory traces the roots of her commitment to sustainability to her upbringing in southern Indiana, where she was raised on a farm surrounded by the Hoosier National Forest. After an early and diverse corporate career with Starbucks Coffee, she fulfilled a childhood dream by serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua. During this 27-month experience, Geory had the opportunity to think deeply about our role in the world - the ways our individual and collective decisions affect our local and global neighbors.
Upon returning to the United States, she completed her Master of Business Administration in Sustainability and Social Change in 2015 at Clark University Graduate School of Management in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she was a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow. Geory earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a certificate in Environmental Studies in 2001 from Indiana University in Bloomington. Geory’s diverse background also includes work as an outdoor educator and additional volunteer and cultural exchange experiences within and outside of the United States.
She was recognized by the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Leading the Pack program, which highlights faculty & staff members that have gone above and beyond to fulfill SIU’s mission. She has presented at several sustainability conferences including ACUBSS, AASHE, and the Illinois APPA State Conference.
Sustainability Program Manager and Advisor to the Senior Director
Olivia joined the Sustainability team in November 2022. As the Program Manager and Advisor to the Senior Director, she oversees the student intern program, strategic communication and engagement for the office, and provides support for various program projects. Prior to her start with Notre Dame Sustainability, she served as the Senior Administrative Coordinator in the Department of Art, Art History & Design at Notre Dame. Olivia has had a long-standing drive for sustainability work, but credits much of her passion to her time as an outdoor educator and adventure trip leader.
Olivia obtained a B.A. in Applied Cultural Anthropology from Ball State University and an M.P.A. in Policy Analysis from Indiana University. As an undergraduate and graduate student, she worked on projects that sought to understand the cultural elements of environmental problems and policy and apply localized solutions for lasting impact.
Sustainability Program Manager, Operations & Analysis
John joined the Sustainability team in January 2024. As the Sustainability Program Manager for Operations and Analysis, he is responsible for sustainability collaborations involving data metrics. John grew up with a passion for sustainability that was heightened by family trips to national parks and spending time outdoors in and around his hometown of Ann Arbor.
John earned his bachelor's degree from Notre Dame with a major in Science-Business. As an undergraduate student, he participated in the Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns, interning at The Hope Clinic in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He also recently received a master's degree in Energy and Sustainability from Northwestern University, where he was able to explore many areas of interest including sustainable food systems and the B Corp community. During this graduate program, he completed a team-based practicum project focused on growing the circular economy.
Sustainability Program Manager, Operations
Austin is a community-focused nonprofit professional with a passion for environmental sustainability. In his role as the Sustainability Program Manager for Operations, Austin will support the university’s waste reduction activities. He previously worked for five years at the national park friends group, the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In this position, he managed the organization’s Administration and Facilities teams, as well as helped lead the Conservancy’s Zero Waste work.
Austin received a bachelor’s degree from Denison University in History, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Kent State University. The capstone for his master’s degree focused on researching and designing a municipality-supported composting program in the City of Cleveland, Ohio. While in Cleveland, he also organized and led community trash pickup activities in his neighborhood, and served as a Recycling Ambassador.