Mission Statement: Identify environmental issues potential solutions, and promote a synergy between the community and elected officials.
The purpose of the Valley Environmental Summit is to bring together the general public, political leaders, neighborhood associations, non-profits, businesses, and students to identify possible solutions, and implement those solutions. The environmental summits actively engage communities in working together to improve their environment and quality of life.
The purpose is to create a successful, annual environmental summit that
Brings together border grassroots, local and state stakeholders to identify primary environmental issues and
Come up with solutions to the Valley’s environmental issues.
Create a venue where we can work with the community and residents to highlight urgent environmental issues.
Valley Environmental Coalition Board Members
Omar Rios - President Omar has been presiding over the Valley Environmental Coalition for since 2015, but has been a member since 2011. He has been working for the City of Harlingen as the City MS4 Operator since February 24, 2010. Omar has Co-Chaired the Citizens Board for the International Boundary and Water Commission for the past two years and just got nominated for another 2 years. In addition, he has been the liason between the City and the Veterans Committee for the City of Harlingen for 2 years.
Marianella Franklin - Vice-President Marianella Franklin is the founding Director and Chief Sustainability Officer at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, leading the institutions global sustainability efforts with over 14 years in higher education. She is responsible for and focused on improving sustainable development and organizational effectiveness in education, research, operations and global engagement. Since establishing the Office for Sustainability in 2009, Marianella has accelerated institutional progress in academics, educating the next generation of professional leadership, driving interdisciplinary sustainability research, and creating outreach opportunities with businesses, non-profit organizations, policy makers and the community. She is an active participant in the local community, working to foster collaborative efforts among academics, and public-private partnerships to further the development and execution of strategies and plans that drive sustainability improvements within the institutional strategic plan.
Ludy Saenz - Secretary Ludy has been working for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC) since November 1996. As the Assistant Director of Regional Planning Department, Ludy supervises staff and oversees programs as follows: TCEQ Water Quality Program, Community Development Assistance Program and TCEQ Solid Waste Management Program. She assists in the planning and coordination of the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group (Region M) committee. Ludy has been a member of the Valley Environmental Coalition since 2010 and was recently elected Secretary.
Rose Timmer - Treasurer Rose has worked for non-profits since 1992, first as a volunteer with the many environmental projects HCB partnered. She has managed an array of multiple tasks such as fundraising, grant writing and outreach. She has the ability to work well with others is able to multi task with several projects. Rose is the community liaison for the Environmental Advisory Committee that spearheaded the ban of plastic shopping bags in Brownsville. She has represented the city and HCB at several hearing in Austin TX regarding environmental and health issue. She serves on the following committees: Environmental Advisory Coalition, Hispanic Health Research Center, The Community Advisory Board, Keep Brownsville Beautiful, Brownsville Beautification Committee, The LRGVDC Advisory Board on Aging, The Texas Alliance for YMCA, and Border Binational Health Commission.
Rubén O'Bell - Director - State Rep. Eddie Lucio III Office (3 year term) Rubén O'Bell, from Brownsville, Texas, matriculated from The University of Texas - Brownsville. He is employed by the Texas House of Representatives where he serves as Chief of Staff for State Rep. Eddie Lucio III. He is married to Mrs. Sylvia O'Bell and they have a lovely daughter, Sophia Abigail O'Bell. Mr. O'Bell enjoys reading, playing golf, local history, spending time with his family and participating in his Church family events.
Victor Baldovinos - City of South Padre Island Victor is the first Environmental Health Director for beautiful South Padre Island and has worked there since 2002. He has served on many boards and committees, in a variety of capacities. He has built quite a reputation for bringing trainings to our region, private as well as many local, county, state and federal trainings. Victor continues to be an active member of society, from his Volunteer Firefighting days in his local community, coaching his son’s Flag Football Team, to presently leading the Knights of Columbus as Grand Knight and President of the Texas Environmental Health Association. He is a person that will make you laugh, while he selflessly works with you to accomplish projects for the benefit of others. Just be mindful, one of the things he enjoys the most is sharing his gifts by helping to mold others into becoming leaders as well.
Eva Garcia - City of Brownsville Planning Department (3 year term) Eva has been working for the City of Brownsville for 3 years, originally sitting on the Valley Environmental Summit Steering Committee before becoming a Board Member in 2015. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Brownsville. She has volunteered with various nonprofit organizations in the community. Additionally, Eva has managed the Brownsville Bike Barn, an earn-a-bike program, for almost four years.
Chris Lash - Keep McAllen Beautiful (2 year term) Chris has been employed by the City of McAllen for 16 years and now oversees the Keep McAllen Beautiful program. Keep McAllen Beautiful is affiliated with Keep Texas Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful. Chris is responsible for planning and executing many events, including the Great American Clean-Up and Arbor Day Celebration
Denise Granado Chavez - Siemens Industry (2 year term) Denise obtained a BBA in Economics from Baylor University in 2007. She has been working in the construction/energy industry ever since. Denise moved back to Brownsville in 2008 and has been focusing on giving back to her community by participating in organizations like the North Brownsville Rotary Club, the Hispanics Women's Network, the Sombrero Festival organization, and Educacion Sin Fronteras. In addition, she is currently a Care Partner for BISD schools and serves as a mentor giving motivational and career related speeches to schools throughout the valley.
Julia Lash - City of Brownsville Office of Grant Management (2 year term) Julia joined the City of Brownsville in July 2013 as Social Services Coordinator for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Hearth Emergency Solutions Grant (HESG). Prior to joining the City, Julia was a Senior Financial Aid Officer for the University of Texas at Brownsville for 10 years, gaining experience with federal funds directed through the U.S. Department of Education. In December 2015, Julia was promoted to CDBG Program Manager and is currently overseeing infrastructure improvement projects that are federally funded. Julia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Bilingual Education (Early Childhood - 4th Grade).
VES Steering Committee Members
Anali Ybarra City of Brownsville
Ronaldo Garcia Private Citizen/Volunteer
Gloria Casas Private Citizen/Volunteer
Eddie Campirano Brownsville Public Utilities Board
Marcie Oviedo Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council
Valerie Ramos Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council
Imelda Pena Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
David Ramirez Texas Commission on Environmental Quality