Travis County, a proud member of SPEER’s Community Efficiency Leadership Coalition (CELC) for years, continues to lead the way in Texas with their forward-thinking initiatives. With a Sustainable Purchasing Policy, Climate Action Plan, and ongoing efforts towards a community greenhouse gas inventory, they’re setting a commendable example in advancing energy efficiency. We applaud their dedication to a sustainable future for all and sat down with Max Morales, the county’s Senior Environmental Resilience Specialist, to learn more!

What accomplishment are you the most proud of?

 At the start of my career, I had the incredible opportunity to lead a recycling education presentation for our Spanish-speaking custodians at Travis County. It was a chance to connect with them on a personal level, to hear about their daily challenges and concerns. Giving them a platform to share their truths sparked a chain reaction, showing me the power of providing space for open dialogue.

What makes this experience truly special to me is how it affirmed my sense of purpose. It wasn’t just about educating others; it was about fostering genuine connections and empowerment within the environmental field. This moment ignited a fire within me to keep pushing forward, ensuring that those who have been overlooked in the past have a rightful place at the table when it comes to building a more sustainable and resilient future. 

Lately, I’ve achieved some significant milestones, including spearheading the creation of the county’s inaugural community-wide greenhouse gas emission inventory. With support and guidance from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, we successfully published our first greenhouse gas report. Additionally, our environmental resilience program has garnered approval from the commissioners’ court to advance towards developing a community climate action plan for the county. I’m eagerly anticipating the outcomes and opportunities that will arise from this initiative.

What does it mean to you with the federal government creating Justice40?

 In my view, the establishment of Justice40 represents an acknowledgment of the longstanding systemic inequalities often neglected in environmental policies. It signifies a concerted effort to rectify the injustices that have persistently hindered communities of color from flourishing. Lastly, it’s a commitment to enhance health outcomes, foster economic opportunities, and uphold a sustainable future for those historically marginalized.

What does a more equitable and inclusive environment in this industry look like to you?

 When I imagine this scenario with my eyes closed, the first thing that comes to mind is the hope that I won’t be the “last”… Someday, when it’s time for me to step down from my role, I really hope there will be more people of color to carry on this important work. For me, a more equitable and inclusive environmental industry means seeing people of color in leadership positions within environmental organizations, truly reflecting the vibrant diversity of the communities they serve. It’s about genuinely engaging with communities of color, listening to their voices, and addressing their concerns in our efforts to build resilience and sustainability. And it’s not just about talk; it’s about providing communities with the resources they need to make informed decisions and creating opportunities for folks from underrepresented backgrounds to shine, whether through internships, mentorship programs, or other avenues for growth.

For more information view our webpage – Environmental Resilience Program (