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 college students that traveled to Florida in early 1982 to work for passage of the ERA.
Zac Trahan grew up in the idyllic hill country and studied Biology (Evolution and Ecology) at the University of Texas at Austin. His deep connection with and respect for the natural world has only strengthened since joining TCE in the fall of 2002. Zac has worked in all three TCE offices; he was the Houston Program Director from 2008-2011 and the DFW Program Director from 2012-2015. He believes our common problems call for collaborative solutions and that protecting our future means protecting our shared surroundings.
Armon Alex has worked for nearly a decade with local and international environmental non-profits to develop and implement communication and marketing strategies. He currently serves as the vice-chair of the Mayor’s Environmental Task Force in Corpus Christi, is one of the youngest on the Board of Directors for EarthEcho International, is a Science Communications TedTalk speaker and is the co-founder of the Gulf of Mexico Youth Climate Summit. His experience in science-based community outreach & organizing began with actively testing the water quality of his surrounding bays in collaboration with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi under his student-led research team that focused on education and advocacy throughout South Texas coastal communities. He continues to invest his time in efforts rooted in environmental justice as his community remains on the frontlines of the climate crisis and industrial build-out. In his free time he works to inspire young environmentalists by equipping them with tools to be effective science communicators.
Jenny Espino has over 15 years of organizing experience across Texas, but remains deeply rooted in the Coastal Bend. She has organized around a host of issues ranging from reproductive justice to labor solidarity. She has a first hand relationship with the consequences of environmental racism which puts her in a unique position to work toward environmental justice. In doing this work, it has always been a primary goal to connect all of our struggles as we fight against oppression and exploitation in all forms toward a more just world. When not organizing, Jenny teaches dance and is passionate about the local music and art scene.
Autumn Hensiek is a lifelong resident of Corpus Christi and has experienced the devastating effects of fossil fuel dependence along the Gulf Coast firsthand. Her organizing began in 2016 while canvassing with the Green Party to provide a more sustainable alternative to the two party system. Autumn was a founding member of the Corpus Christi Mutual Aid Network, coordinating a grocery distribution program that delivered food and household supplies to residents of the Coastal Bend throughout the pandemic. She has been a local community organizer in multiple grassroots organizations throughout the years, with an emphasis in the issues of food sovereignty and workers rights. Autumn has deep ties to environmental and social justice organizing, and a commitment to the Way of Love.
Cody Benavides started their career with TCE as a field organizer in 2022. They have been an active participant of the D.I.Y. art and music scene, as well as organizing spaces within the Coastal Bend for almost a decade. Cody participated in and helped organize the 2019 Coastal Bend Social Forum, mutual aid efforts in response to hurricane Harvey and Covid-19, and actions centered around Black Lives Matter and reproductive justice. As a lifelong resident, Cody has witnessed the environmental injustices that disproportionately affect marginalized communities in the Coastal Bend and believes that no one should have to go without access to clean air and water regardless of their class or race. In their free time they enjoy going to D.I.Y shows, playing music, and rooting for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Chloe Torres is a proud, lifelong resident of Corpus Christi, Texas and truly believe in the city’s potential to set an example for other U.S. coastal cities on how to fight back against pollution-causing industries. They have been a local community organizer for the past five years in numerous grassroots organizations which have tackled a variety of issues such as immigration, racial inequality, labor, and of course environmental justice.
Brandon Marks joined TCE after working in labor, community, and electoral organizing in Chicago, most recently at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Brandon previously lived in Mexico City where he worked and volunteered for non-profits and bolstered his Spanish fluency. Brandon graduated from Yale University, where he studied the role of power, profits, and social movements in the US and Latin America. Brandon was born in Dallas and raised in South Florida, but his family has lived in Corpus Christi, TX for generations.
Trevor Carroll is a native Texan and community organizer committed to fighting for social, economic and environmental justice. Living most of his life in Houston, he sees how the fossil fuel industry dominates the local economy and culture. With family based in Nederland and Beaumont, he spent his early childhood in communities overburdened by petrochemical facilities. After studying political science at University of North Texas, he returned to Houston where he began to work on local political campaigns, volunteer with mutual aid groups and become involved in grassroots activism. Now the Fossil Fuel Exports Campaign Organizer for Brazoria County, Trevor joined TCE in 2020 as a field organizer in our Houston office. Trevor believes that change is demanded from the bottom up by organizing collective power and that we must build community resistance to fight for environmental justice.
Alberta Phillips is a local writer and award-winning journalist, who began her career at an African American publication, The Call and Times, in Cincinnati, Ohio. She also worked at The Westbury Times in Long Island, N.Y., and freelanced for some other black publications. The majority of her career has been with the Austin city daily, The Austin American-Statesman, where she rose from a neighborhood reporter to Editorial Writer and Columnist, taking the pulse of Austin’s Communities of Color for more than 30 years. While at the Statesman, Phillips covered a variety of beats, including public schools, city hall, utilities, race relations, environmental issues and city, state and national politics. She was the first African American woman to serve in the Texas Capitol Press Corps, covering Gov. Ann Richards and Gov. George W. Bush. She has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence and was nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize. Ms. Phillips left the American-Statesman in 2018 to pursue other interests, including a book project. Recently, the board of KAZI radio, a community radio station with an African American focus, approved her proposal to launch a new, news magazine podcast, “ATX Now in Color,” which will focus on local and state issues impacting the Black Community. The podcast is scheduled to launch in July. In addition to serving on the Board for Texas Campaign for the Environment, she also gives back to the Austin and Travis County area with service on other boards: as Treasurer on the Bike Texas Governing Board; Commissioner on the City of Austin’s Joint Sustainability Committee; and Chairwoman of the ECHO Governing Board (the umbrella organization for Austin’s advocacy network for unsheltered/homeless people.
Maurilio “Mo” Flores Sanchez is an accountant with Apex CAES, LLC, a Texas-based company created to develop, construct, own and operate compressed air energy storage (CAES) plants. As an avid outdoors enthusiast and CPA, Mo is very passionate about using his professional skills while serving with TCE to further environmental efforts in the state of Texas. Mo lives in East Downtown Houston, volunteers with CEC Houston, the Ronald McDonald House & Junior Achievement, and commutes via an electric motorcycle (weather permitting). After marrying another animal lover, Mo’s family includes four rescues – Remy, an Australian Cattle Dog mix, Luna, a Lab mix, JeeBee, another Australian Cattle Dog mix, Buffalo, a Boxer / Pit mix, – and now they have a baby on the way.
Karen Hoffman Blizzard, Consultant, is a project manager with Austin Together, which fosters collaborations in the nonprofit community to create better outcomes for Central Texans. In 2021, she consulted with Barton Springs Conservancy through the Leadership Austin Fellows program. As a freelancer, she has written articles on outdoor conservation and stake parks for Texas Highways, Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, Austin Monthly, and Texas Hill Country (blog). Previously, she worked in communications and management for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and other state agencies. While at TPWD, Blizzard helped create and promote recreational opportunities for all Texans on their public lands. She served on the public-use plan implementation teams for Big Bend Ranch State Park and Devils River State Natural Area and served as the statewide coordinator for First Day Hikes in Texas State Parks. A native Austinite, she is a Barton Springs swimmer and musician. She and her husband, Mike Blizzard, are longtime supporters of TCE and the Trash Makeover Challenge.
Corey Troiani is a native Texan who started his activist career in late 2011 at the University of North Texas fighting hydraulic fracturing in Denton neighborhoods. After earning an undergrad degree in Anthropology, he co-founded a direct action campaign with activists and landowners to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in East Texas. He joined TCE in early 2013, and has worked non-stop as a community organizer, field manager, DFW Program Director and now Senior Campaign Strategy Director. Corey enjoys yoga, rock climbing, soap-making, and geeky stuff like graphic and print design.
Cuauhtemoc Toren was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley city of Alamo, Texas. He earned a Master’s degree in Political Science at UTSA in 2021. During his time on campus, Cuauhtemoc registered voters and organized students for progressive issues from 2017 to 2019. He later participated in grassroots organizing attempts in San Antonio to close a coal plant, canvass for progressive city council candidates, and connect COVID-19 positive Texas voters to doctors in the 2020 election. At his core, Cuauhtemoc believes in politics as an arena for common struggles and universal rights, including our right to a clean environment. Cuauhtemoc enjoys collecting records, catching any show in town that a favorite artist is performing, pretending to still like gaming, and keeping up with our political realignment on Twitter.
Olivia Heller is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon where she received a degree in Environmental Studies. She joined TCE in 2022 and is eager to begin a career doing what she loves–involving people in the fight toward sustainable environmental policy. She is passionate about creating a just and equitable future for all people, and about the potential impacts of environmental activism. Olivia enjoys yoga, getting creative in the kitchen, and exploring the outdoors.
Vic Cornell joined TCE in 2019 as our Director of Administration. Before that, he worked at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas for fifteen years, in a wide variety of roles. He attended UT-Austin for his undergrad in religious studies and went to seminary at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago for his Master of Arts in Religious Education & Theological Ethics. As a trained community organizer, Vic believes that no matter what the problem is, someone, somewhere, can fix it. An organizer’s job is to figure out who that person is, and what needs to be done to them to make them solve the problem.
Jeffrey Jacoby began his career with TCE in 2004 and directed our DFW office from 2005-2011 before moving to Austin in 2012. After obtaining a Master of Arts from the University of Maryland and living in Washington, D.C. for three years, he found TCE when he returned to his native Texas. He believes that change begins at home, one person at a time. His commitment to grassroots democracy and environmental advocacy stems from a strong desire to find transformative solutions for generational problems.
Todd Main, policy and political consultant, began working for environmental non-profits as a door-to-door canvasser. He rose up the ranks to become a Field Manager, Canvass Staff Director and State Director. For three years, Todd served as the Executive Director of TCE. He founded Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund, TCE’s sister research organization. He is currently on assignment in Washington, D.C. with his wife Theresa Amato and daughters Isabella and Vittoria.
Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) was founded in 1991 with canvass offices in Dallas and Houston, which were active until the mid-90’s. Some of the initial victories that TCE helped accomplish were establishing curbside recycling in Dallas and a household hazardous waste program in Houston.
In 1997, we started Public Research Works which was later renamed Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund (TCE Fund) and opened a canvass office in Austin with a focus on air pollution. We worked with many allies to close the Grandfather Loophole in the Texas Clean Air Act, drastically reducing emissions from older polluting facilities. TCE also assisted in the fight against lignite (coal) strip mining in Bastrop and Lee Counties to fuel a power plant that ran Alcoa’s aluminum smelter in Rockdale.
In the early 2000s TCE continued to work on waste and recycling issues. We helped communities in Northeast Travis County who were fighting air and water pollution from three neighboring landfills. We also succeeded in pressuring electronics companies such as Dell, Apple, Samsung and others to create takeback recycling programs. These programs shift the burden of recycling products and packaging from local governments and provide a bottom-line incentive to design for recycling. TCE played a leading role in the Texas Legislature passing producer takeback laws for computers and televisions.
Throughout its history, TCE has advocated for a Zero Waste economy. This includes creating policies and designing our economic systems around how we can sustainably deal with consumer waste as well as industrial pollution. TCE has spent more than a decade working for local municipal policies that will bring Texas closer to Zero Waste. Our efforts helped lead to ordinances requiring recycling for residents of multi-family buildings in Dallas and Austin and for recycling for all residents served by the city in Houston, one of the last major U.S. cities to do so. We led efforts to pass single-use bag efforts and to oppose preemption bills at the Texas Legislature. TCE coordinated efforts to defend bad ordinances in the state courts, but in 2018 the Texas Supreme Court invalidated the local bag ordinances.
TCE has also watchdogged the waste industry and assisted Texans faced with problem waste facilities. We helped organize in the South Texas town of Rio Hondo to stop a problem liquid waste company from polluting the largest freshwater waterway going into the Lower Laguna Madre. We worked with neighbors to trash facilities to hem in expanding landfills. We also led the effort to defeat the “One Bin for All” proposal in Houston which would purposefully mix trash and recyclables, making it harder for sorting, and likely leading to incineration.
In 2014, TCE helped pass an ordinance in Dallas that effectively stopped a wasteful and destructive drilling practice called fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) from coming to Dallas. We also assisted Denton residents in the successful effort to ban fracking by citizen vote. However, in 2015 the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 40, a sweeping law to invalidate local ordinances to restrict the operations of oil and gas. The law’s constitutionality has yet to be tested.
After Hurricane Harvey, we assisted in the efforts to clean up the San Jacinto Waste Pits east of Houston after many toxic waste sites were flooded. We worked to defend federal funding of the Superfund toxic waste clean-up program when its funding was under attack in 2017.
In 2018, we began a concentrated effort to organize in the Coastal Bend to oppose the air pollution permit of a massive ExxonMobil-Sabic plastics pellet plant. While that permit was granted, we helped form a local coalition to oppose the petrochemical and fossil fuel export build-out more broadly. We have been working to stop four proposed baywater desalination plants that would provide the water needed for the petrochemical buildout in the Coastal Bend. Two are proposed by the City of Corpus Christi, the main water provider for the region, and two by the Port of Corpus Christi. TCE is also fighting new and expanding crude oil and fracked gas (Liquified Natural Gas or LNG) exporting facilities across the Texas Gulf Coast. Limiting export will have a major impact on limiting fracking especially in the Permian Basin, Barnett Shale, and even in the Bakken in North Dakota.
In 2020, we broadened our organizing to address the other ways the fossil fuel industry contributes to pollution, climate change, and the destruction of our natural resources. We joined with other groups to contest flaring permit applications–requests to burn off large quantities of useful fossil fuel resources simply because a company hasn’t found a way to make use of them profitably–sought by ConocoPhillips at the Railroad Commission of Texas. TCE also joined Insure Our Future and Stop the Money Pipeline to oppose the financing and insuring of dangerous fossil fuel projects.
After Winter Storm Uri, TCE developed the Texas Power to the People Pledge (TexasPowertothePeople.org) which lays out principles for policy makers to address the underlying issues that caused the grid failure in February 2021. TCE organized meetings with legislative offices to request that they sign onto these principles which also highlights the role of the fracked gas companies and pipelines that contributed to the grid failure, the excessive profiteering of some companies, and the lack of oversight by state agencies like the Texas Railroad Commission and Public Utility Commission.
Now that renewable energy is taking center stage to power the future, oil and gas companies are scrambling to build fossil fuel export terminals along the Gulf Coast to maximize their profits—no matter what the harm to people and the planet. We’re fighting to prevent these bad projects from moving forward, and one way we are succeeding is by convincing key federal officials to visit Gulf Coast communities to see firsthand how devastating they would be.
Shaping Politics and Winning Elections
The TCE Coastal Bend office led the charge to elect a “Clean Slate” to Corpus Christi City Council. We endorsed four candidates who ran on rejecting corporate tax breaks and desalination for industrial use, advocating instead for lowering taxes and bills on residents, fixing water infrastructure, and investing in basic city amenities like roads, parks, and libraries. Of our four candidates, two won their races and are now Corpus Christi City Council members!
View 2022 Annual Report
We Won’t Back Down
TCE is working with frontline leaders and allies from around the state and country to fend off the dirty energy projects proposed in many cases by the very same companies that profiteered – or totally failed us – during Winter Storm Uri. We are building public pressure on state officials to move toward a truly sustainable energy future and to refuse big oil & gas campaign contributions.
We know that burning fossil fuels is accelerating natural catastrophes in Texas, from devastating floods and wildfires to historic droughts. That’s why hundreds of local activists are pushing back, fighting to protect the health, safety and future of their communities. To help, in 2022 TCE will be launching a new statewide public education campaign to put proposed Gulf Coast fossil fuel export projects – and the companies and executives behind them – in the spotlight.
View 2021 Annual Report
These past few years have been a roller coaster of changes and challenges. Through it all, support from our members like you across the state was unwavering. Last year we also received project-specific grants that helped us with some major campaigns, and we had a deficit by design because certain income raised in 2021 was intended for projects in 2022. We are immensely grateful for the strong grassroots support you are helping us build as we continue fighting for a cleaner, healthier future.
2022 Revenue total: $810,984
52% Major gifts & grants
38% Grassroots contributions
10% Fundraising events
2022 Expense total: $1,009,081
86% Advocacy, organizing & education
7% Managing TCE
7% Fundraising to sustain TCE
*Over $200,000 raised in 2021 toward projects in 2022
Want to see more details? Here are our 2021 IRS Form 990 tax documents.
We’re not in this work to win awards, but on occasion we receive recognition for our efforts – here are some accolades we’re proud of.
2017 Defender of Texas Trees Award
Following our work to build a statewide coalition to defend local tree preservation ordinances from attack during the 2017 special legislative session, the International Society of Arboriculture-Texas Chapter (ISAT) awarded TCE their “Defender of Texas Trees” award. We led regular conference calls and strategy sessions, and we helped coordinate outreach and advocacy from concerned citizens, business leaders and even military officials concerned about how the bill would affect their facilities in San Antonio. We also generated thousands of messages to lawmakers pressuring them to stop the bill, which was eventually was reduced to a minor tweak — and every local tree protection ordinance in Texas still stands.
2014 Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Award
Green Source DFW, a project of the Memnosyne Foundation, presented the Grassroots Nonprofit Award to Texas Campaign for the Environment’s Dallas office. The organization recognized our work for a strong gas drilling ordinance and zero waste goals in Dallas.
2008 Liveable City Vision Awards: Celebrating the Five E’s of Sustainability
For their 5th Annual Liveable City Vision Awards, the group recognized Texas Campaign for the Environment and Dell for creating the computer industry’s leading recycling program setting a new mark for corporate responsibility.
Excellence in Environmental Awareness 2006 Nonprofit Organization Award
The League of Women Voters of Texas recognized the successes of Texas Campaign for the Environment in addressing the issue of electronic waste and recycling. The selection committee acknowledged the key role that TCE has played at the state and national level.
Austin Chronicle Best of Austin 2004 – Best New Partnership: Texas Campaign for the Environment & Dell
Texas Campaign for the Environment and Dell started as adversaries of sorts, with TCE pressuring Dell to increase recycling of electronic waste. But Dell insisted it really cared about the environment, and when Round Rock’s personal computer market leader put its money where its mouth is, protest turned into pats on the back from activists.
City of Austin Environmental Awareness Award: Outstanding Environmental Service
Texas Campaign for the Environment won the 2001 Environmental Awareness Award for a Community or Non-profit Organization in recognition of outstanding environmental service. TCE was selected for this award by the four City of Austin citizen advisory bodies which address environmental issues.
Best of Austin 2001 – Best Advocate for Breathing: Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment
When the Texas environmental agency claimed it couldn’t record pollution complaints on the Web, Schneider, TCE, and its research arm, Public Research Works did it themselves — as one more way of goading the regulatory agency into doing its job. Schneider was a central member of this year’s environmentalist caucus that kept the pressure on the Lege to finally do something about grandfathered industrial polluters — and succeeded, with one of the big people’s victories of the session.
Empowering Texans to fight pollution, one talk at a time
Canvassing is a time-tested and effective tool that generations of community organizers have used to win real, positive change. Whether knocking on doors or calling on the phone, canvassing allows us to bring the tools of civic engagement to residents who may otherwise never have gotten involved.
Our small but mighty group of activists routinely pounds the pavement, rain or shine, year-round, to knock on doors and make contact with folks about public health and environmental issues. We have created a presence in all 181 legislative districts in Texas. We have accomplished many important environmental victories over the years through our canvassing efforts, such as:
Passing statewide environmental legislation to reduce air pollution, improve public “right-to-know” laws, and establish electronics recycling programs in Texas.
Helping to win curbside recycling in D/FW and Houston, and curbside composting in Austin.
Passing local policies such as a single-use bag ban in Austin and a protective gas drilling ordinance in Dallas.
Delaying and defeating proposed petrochemical and fossil fuel export facilities along the Gulf Coast.
We’re proud that canvassing on environmental and political issues is protected free speech under the First Amendment, according to numerous court rulings, and the U.S. Supreme Court draws a clear distinction between canvassing for a social cause and commercial solicitation. Generating support on social issues through canvassing is legally protected because it represents free speech and helps make democracy work.
How it works
We begin canvassing each day at 4:00 p.m., making our first attempt to contact people before 7:30 p.m. So, if someone receives a call after that, it is almost always our second or third attempt to reach them that day. We conduct these return calls and collect letters of support until 9:00 p.m., and we abide by people’s expressed wish to talk or not at any time.
Since we are in communities to find people who agree, we train our canvassers to be polite and peacefully walk away or complete the phone conversation with anyone who is not interested or doesn’t have time to help with what we are working on a given day. Our canvassers are looking for individuals who want to connect to a larger group of people with a common goal.
The way we canvass at TCE is all about developing leadership skills. We provide training and education programs for our staff. Canvassing teaches (mostly young) people important traits such as effective communication, patience, work ethics, and public participation.
Record of success
It’s no coincidence that several of history’s greatest environmental protections were organized with the help of knocking on doors. In the early 1970s, people began to organize their communities on environmental issues at an unprecedented scale. Clean Water Action, one of the first groups to canvass, used grassroots organizing to pass the national Clean Water Act in 1972. Lois Gibbs, a housewife in a middle-class neighborhood known as “Love Canal” started knocking on doors when she learned she and her neighbors had health problems related to pollution — her grassroots campaign applied enough pressure to win federal clean-up of the site and the creation of an agency dedicated to such “Superfund” sites.
Through canvassing – whether at your door or on the phone, we empower people to fight together with us for a Texas free from pollution. Canvassing reflects our values as an organization — and it just plain works. If you are a member of your homeowners’ association or active on neighborhood websites such Nextdoor.com, please go online and post a positive message about us. Thanks for your support!