Staff

Geory Kurtzhals

Senior Director, Office of Sustainability

Geory Kurtzhals
 

Geory Kurtzhals joined the Office of Sustainability as the Senior Director in July 2022.  In this role, she oversees the strategic and managerial direction for the office, working with the Office of Sustainability staff and interns, and 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 human 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.


Caitlin Jacobs

Sustainability Program Manager

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Caitlin Jacobs is the Sustainability Program Manager and provides remote project support for the Office of Sustainability from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In this role, Jacobs is responsible for efforts to measure and reduce the University’s greenhouse gas inventory, support academic partnerships, contribute to progress on key regional climate concerns, and develop future-facing initiatives aligned with the University’s Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy. 

Jacobs joined the office in July 2018 as an Associate Program Manager with responsibility for student-facing outreach and engagement. Prior to joining the Office of Sustainability, Jacobs worked for the Center for Social Concerns as a community-based research assistant and supported the Minor in Sustainability program as a part-time program coordinator. Jacobs graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2017 with a B.A. in American Studies and a Minor in Sustainability.

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Olivia Farrington

Sustainability Program Manager and Advisor to the Senior Director

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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 the Office of 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. 

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Austin Poyar

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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.

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