board & staff
executive director - central texas
Robin Schneider started her activist career in high school as a 17-year-old canvasser for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) raising funds door-to-door to assist pro-ERA candidates. During college she led a campaign that stopped a plan to drill for oil on the UCLA campus, which would have displaced the university's childcare center. She also led a delegation of 18 California college students that traveled to Florida in early 1982 to work for passage of the ERA.
Robin began working with TCE Fund and its sister organization Texas Campaign for the Environment in 1997. Under Robin's direction, TCE Fund and TCE took leading roles in the campaign to close the Grandfather Loophole in the Texas Clean Air Act, for which she was dubbed the "Best Advocate for Breathers" by The Austin Chronicle.
She is a Vice Chair of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition and played a key role in successfully pressured Dell, the campaign's first corporate target, to take back its obsolete products and support producer takeback policies.
Under Robin's direction, TCE Fund has been working with landfill neighbors to impact local trash issues and statewide rules and legislation since late 2002. Robin was appointed to the City of Austin's Long-Range Solid Waste Planning Task Force in 2005 which laid the groundwork for the adoption of a city Zero Waste Strategic Plan in January 2009, the first in Texas.
Robin also serves on the Board of Earth Share of Texas for TCE Fund. Her spouse works on land restoration projects at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center. She has been active with AFS Intercultural Programs as a high school exchange student to Kenya in 1977 and a host parent for exchange students from Ghana, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
deputy director - greater houston
Tyson Sowell grew up in the Austin area before completing his Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Texas Tech University and his Masters Degree from the University of Illinois in Environmental Studies. Tyson joined TCE in 2010 as a community organizer and policy intern. He believes in the power of individuals to affect change and that democracy only works when we work at it. He is passionate about social and environmental justice and working to ensure humanity a future.
central texas program
Andrew Dobbs has been involved in Texas politics since reaching the University of Texas in 2002. He was with TCE Fund briefly in 2006 and continuously since 2010. Known as "Dobbs" to his friends, he is a passionate advocate for the people’s voice in the public policy process and has helped with electoral campaigns ranging from student government to Presidential candidates. He is now committed to non-partisan efforts to organize grassroots support for environmental and public health issues. Dobbs lives in Southeast Austin where he spends his free time reading and listening to the radio.
north texas program
Zac Trahan was home schooled as a child in the hill country outside Austin. His deep connection with and respect for the natural world has only strengthened since joining TCE and TCE Fund in the fall of 2002. Zac has worked in all three TCE Fund offices and served as Deputy Director from 2006-2011. He believes our common problems call for collaborative solutions and that protecting our humanity means protecting our shared surroundings.
Todd Main is a seasoned political organizer with two decades of experience in public interest work. He has worked on a range of consumer issues such as electric utility and health care reform and environmental issues. He is currently working on health policy. Todd founded TCE Fund. For three years, Todd served as the Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment, TCE Fund's sister organization. He is currently on assignment in Chicago with his wife Theresa Amato and their daughters Isabella and Vittoria.
Mary Elizabeth Cofer currently works in the health insurance field. She has worked in the health care field for many years as a licensed physical therapy assistant. She is a certified personal trainer. Mary Elizabeth is on the Board of Adjustments for the City of Rollingwood, and is involved in working with Rollingwood to gain status as a "Green City." She is a long distance runner. She and her spouse George raised a daughter Hanna, who recently graduated from UT majoring in geography and environment.
Michael Zeleke is a disaster relief specialist who has worked for the US Agency for International Development in Nairobi, the Red Cross (in Albania, Bosnia, and Azerbaijan), Doctors of the World in Kosovo, the International Medical Corps in Rwanda and Angola and the United Nations in South Africa. He was named the American Refugee Committee Humanitarian Aid Worker of the Year 1994 for his work in Somalia. He is a former marine, firefighter and canvasser. He and his spouse Angie Mills split their time between Bangladesh, Austin, South Africa and other countries needing Michael's disaster relief skills.
Brigid Shea is an expert communicator and advocate of environmental policies that make a difference. A former award- winning journalist, environmental organizer and elected official, she has specialized in developing and implementing effective environmental policies since 1988. She is the Principal of 2 environmental consulting firms, Carbon Shrinks and Brigid Shea & Associates, and she advises heavy industry, corporations, governments and non-profits. She is a certified Carbon Reduction Manager, frequent public speaker and trainer.
John Porretto is President of Sustainable Building Solutions, a Houston-based builder specializing in environmentally friendly, healthful coastal homes. Drawing on nearly four decades of experience in senior positions in higher education and health care, John helps public and private entities achieve impressive financial goals, with enduring administrative and operational efficiencies. Recently elected to the Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine of the Board of Health Sciences Policy, National Institute of Medicine (NIM) of the National Academies, John also has been active in the Association of Academic Health Centers (AHC), the American Hospital Association, Council of Teaching Hospitals, and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Marisa Perales is currently a partner at Lowerre, Frederick, Perales, Allmon & Rockwell, in Austin, TX. She began at the firm as an Associate in 2005, and since then, she has become a leading environmental attorney dealing with waste issues in Texas She regularly works on litigation on behalf of citizen groups, public interest organizations, local governments, and individuals regarding environmental issues before state agencies, federal courts, and state courts. She has filed appeals of agency decisions and court judgments in environmental cases. Marisa provides client advice and contributes comments to agencies regarding environmental rules and enforcement, and also conducts research and comment on various environmental issues related to proposed legislative action.