Meet Our Staff

Current Staff:

Lissette O. Hernandez, Director


Connie Caldwell, Program Coordinator

Connie Caldwell, a Miami native, can remember the days when strawberry fields could be found   just off the Florida Turnpike and North Kendall Drive. She credits witnessing the explosive growth of South Florida’s population and sprawl to opening her eyes to the myriad of issues and challenges unfolding with climate change.

Before coming to FIU in 2009 for both her BA and Master of Public Administration (MPA), Connie volunteered for a multitude of Florida’s not-for-profits and worked for two, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Rebuild Northwest Florida. After becoming familiar with disaster relief, recovery, and mitigation she ventured into a private partnership and subcontracted with the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Katrina. Impressed by the gardens and landscapes of Louisiana she became involved with gardening clubs then launched a landscaping business; which was unanimously selected to transform 30 blank yards in Musicians Village to attractive native landscapes. These experiences strengthened Connie’s abilities in community outreach, logistical planning/coordination, and program development/implementation.

Coming back to South Florida a new parent in 2008, she decided to further her studies with the goal to become influential in facilitating South Florida’s transition toward a more sustainable society. In the process, as an undergraduate Connie graduated Magna Cum Laude, with her MPA she received the FIU College of Art and Science Certificate of Outstanding Academic Achievement and FIU Center for Leadership and Service Excellence in Civic Engagement Medallion of Distinction. Connie also served as President of the FIU chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society for Public Administrators and is most proud of her internship with the Office of University Sustainability where she took part in GoGreen initiatives and the University’s first STARS sustainability benchmarking report. Connie became a LEED Green Associate in 2014 and plans on becoming a LEED for Homes Green Rater. As Program Coordinator, she is committed to/ and anticipates an expansion of FIU’s commitment to greener growth. Connie strongly believes that through greater understanding, empowerment, and opportunity individuals will make the changes that ultimately improve sustainability on a global scale. Connie’s areas of interest are green living, public participation, community development, and global governance.

 Annie Alcolea

Annie Alcolea, Naturalist

Annie Alcolea was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She first began to appreciate nature as a Girl Scout. After graduating from high school in 2013, she went to Miami Dade College for two years. It was her experiences during that time working as a student assistant with the Earth Ethics Institute and also having attended an immersion at Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center, that her interest in sustainability grew. Currently, she is finishing her bachelor's degree in sustainability and the environment with a certificate in agroecology and a minor in global media communications at FIU.

When Annie is not working in the FIU Nature Preserve, she spends much of her free time at the FIU Organic Garden as she is the President of the FIU Garden Club, and as an iCATCH scholar, she is also currently working on a research project at the garden. Annie is expected to graduate in the fall of 2018. Following her graduation, she will be prepared to work on the restoration of natural areas and to work with non-profit organizations doing educational outreach in underserved areas. Some of her hobbies include drawing, gardening, and taking long naps under shady trees.


Sustainability Student Assistants

Sustainability Interns

Gabriela Rodriguez

Maureen Uriewhu

Javiera Real

Jamie Garcia


Urban Green Space Interns

 Justin Salazar


Nature Preserve Interns

Amelia Leon

Rachel Tablada

Janina Morejon

Olivia Bussey




Past Team Members

Sustainability Student Assistants
Academic Interns
Volunteer Interns

Sky Siu-Chang- Fall 2016

Simone Garvey-Ewan (4 years)

Ashley Perez (1 year)

Kerri Lamepdusa (1year)

Eddy Ibarra - Naturalist (4 months)

Edy Cicilio - Naturalist (1 year)

Anabella Rodriguez - SFCS EcoRep

Eric Laguardia - Naturalist (1 year)

Christine Pardo - Naturalist (6 months)

Glorimar Maldonado Fall 2012 - Spring 2014

Zhane' James - Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

Maggie Nahmens - SFCS EcoRep - Fall 2013 - Spring 2014

Chedeline Compere - Fall 2011 - Spring 2012

Nathalie Philippe - Spring 2012

Jerry Alvarez - Fall 2011 - Fall 2012

Mercedes Vargas - Fall 2011 - Spring 2012

Krystal Queen - Fall 2011

Brandt Absolu - Summer 2011

Tony Jonusas - Spring 2011

Viktor El-Saieh - Spring 2011

Andrew Fuentes- Sustainability

Roshni Bhagwandeen - Sustainability

Connie Caldwell - MPA

Adam Schachner - MPA

Denis Cacho-Juan - MPH

Monika Castenada - Hospitality

Gabriela Ojeda - Environmental Studies

Vanessa Santos - MPH

Charissa Dowdye - MPH

Megan Tait

Brianna Aedo

Sara Nicholson

Kristian Loynaz

Fortunee Cohen-Sechter

Ashley Jimenez

Cody Fairfield

Luis Garcia

Ingrid Moncada

Raquel Selanikio

Ethan Rivero

Brianna Aedo

Michael Wills

Madeline Reyes

Ali Khan

Sara Kopetman

Racquel Barker

Vaishali Sharma

Lina Sekkat

Michelle Chia

Ana Rojas

Carlee Webb

Natalya Maharaj

Stephanie Delabat

Stephanie Soto

Giovanni Garcia

Paola Lopez

Michael Perez-Cea

Woby Lang

Jeremy Squires 

Rebecca Bricker 

Ariana Font

Melissa Santiago

Ellen Garcia

Enrique Negron

Jennifer Villatoro

Camila Uzcategui

Stephanie Sims

Beatriz Guimaraes

Diana Sanchez

Ana Perez

Vanessa Lorenzo

Erik Maguina

Kevin Gurley

Sara Rasekhi

Elena Neibaur

Sean Koester

Juan Garcia