2861 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 (Room 247) sustainablesystemsresearch@gmail.com 831.708.5836
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Who We Are

Thanks for your interest in us!

“a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Santa Cruz, CA whose ultimate goal is to provide education, research, and advocacy”

Our History

SSRF was founded in 2015 by Ronnie D. Lipschutz, Kevin W. Bell and Thomas Rettenwender. SSRF’s primary goal is to become the “go-to” place for information about sustainability-related problems and solutions.  We seek the enhancement of regional environmental quality and sustainability through collaborative policy research and project development by way of our four programmatic areas: education; research; public policy, and project incubation.

 SSRF’s objectives are:

Objective 1: Education. SSRF’s education programs are designed to offer high school and university students, and post-graduates the knowledge and know-how to hone skills needed for success in environmental endeavors and projects now and in the future, including hands-on training in sustainability-related systems design and development in areas such as energy, food, water, transportation, waste, and housing, among others.

Objective 2: Research. SSRF staff and interns conduct applied research oriented toward local and regional problems and issues, such as discard management and waste reduction, housing strategies, and energy strategies, with a focus on developing practical solutions and in cooperation with local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Objective 3: Public policy & advocacy: SSRF staff studies local environmental issues, such as our local landfill short lifespan, analyzes their causes and consequences, develops proposals to deal with them, and advocates for these proposals. Our education, research and policy efforts seek to provide accurate, comprehensive, and widely accessible information to the public about local problems and solutions. 

Objective 4: Project incubation. SSRF offers an intellectual environment, skills mentoring, and workspaces to engage and stimulate enterprising students, post-graduates and individuals who seek to develop sustainability-related projects, services and goods. We help green entrepreneurs to design and realize their project goals, and develop connections and relationships that are essential to success. Our mentorship program aims to promote publishable research that graduates can use for post graduate work as well as entrepreneurship.

Our Staff

Ronnie D. Lipschutz

Executive Director, Co-Founder

Lipschutz is a Professor of Politics at University of California, Santa Cruz. He has been at UC Santa Cruz since 1990, during which he was co-director of the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies from 1995-2008 and Provost of Rachel Carson College from 2012-2018. As provost he established a new academic program in Sustainability Studies and acquired an endowment for the College.  He has been working on environment, energy and resource issues since 1978, and was a co-founder of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security in Oakland, California in 1987. He received an SM in Physics from MIT in 1978 and a PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley in 1987. Lipschutz has written, edited and co-edited 16 books and numerous book chapters and articles, many of them about energy, environment and resource issues.



Kevin W. Bell

Co-Director, Co-Founder

Bell is a Principal at Convergence Research, Seattle & Santa Cruz, and holds an MPA from the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He has over thirty-five years of deep experience in the areas of low-income advocacy, energy efficiency program design, education, and sustainable infrastructure, in the public, private, entrepreneurial, academic, and non-profit sectors, as well as energy regulatory policy, hydrology and resource modeling.



Kaylia Bravo

Development Director

Bravo is completing her BA in Latin American and Latino Studies, Politics, with a minor in Sustainability Studies. She has experience in arts and education, human capacity-building as well as nonprofit and agency development.



Justin P. Farris

Project Director

Farris holds a BS in Game Design and Computer Science with a minor in Sustainability Studies from UC Santa Cruz. He has experience with project management, green building design/construction, and waste management.



Colleen Tiffin

Office Manager

Tiffin is majoring in Legal Studies and Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. She has worked in accounting and administrative organization and management in the travel industry.



Cori Strell

Research Analyst

Strell earned a BA in Psychology with a minor in Sustainability Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She has experience with facilitating college-level zero waste workshops, organizing sustainable fashion events, and local waste diversion infrastructure. Through the lens of social psychology she merges social welfare and environmental sustainability into her writing and research.



Liane Bauer

Research Analyst

Bauer holds a BA in Legal Studies with concentrations in Environmental Law and Policy from UC Santa Cruz and has experience as a legal and policy intern on environmental issues.



Mark Andy Buck

Intern (May-June 2019)




Tomas Nilsson

Intern (Summer 2019)

Nilsson is studying in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, with a concentration in GIS.



William F. Bravo

Intern (Summer 2019)

Bravo is currently completing a BS in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with interest in Digital Music Visualization Design.


Board of Directors

Ronnie D. Lipschutz, President

Kevin Bell, Vice President

Thomas Rettenwender, Secretary/Treasurer, Principal Architect at Ecologic Design Lab in Seaside, California. He holds an MA and M Arch and the LEED AP, and has spent the past 20 years in the areas of architecture / urban design, education and non-profit management. He led a team of local student interns to win first prize for the 2015 Mock Firms International Design Competition with a design of the Core Tower and masterplan for a site in Seoul, Korea.

Dustin Mulvaney, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, San Jose State University. He holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz, an MS in Environmental Policy, and a BS in Chemical Engineering Since 2008, his primary focus has been on energy commodity chains, with an emphasis on the solar industry. His book Solar Power, Innovation, Sustainability, Environmental Justice was published by UC Press in 2019.

Sheila Davis, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. She
holds a BA in American Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Sheila Davis has played a valuable role in shaping environmental policy in the high-tech industry. She cofounded the Computer TakeBack Campaign and spearheaded the first electronic recycling programs in the country. She worked as a journalist, state legislative aide, and community development specialist prior to SVTC.

Steven Mentor, Professor of English, Evergreen Valley College, San Jose. He holds an M.A from, San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington.