About Us

The Office of Sustainable Practices enhances TDEC’s capacity to promote a culture of environmental sustainability, provide technical guidance to business, industry, and other public entities to promote environmental stewardship in an effort to better conserve Tennessee’s natural resources and to fulfill the Department’s mission and vision.

The Office of Sustainable Practices partners and collaborates within TDEC, and with state government departments, and external stakeholders to:

  • Engage ideas with federal, state and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the academic and business community on matters relevant to environmental sustainability.
  • Support community environmental, economic, public health and social goals through pollution prevention, resource conservation, renewable energy incentives, waste reduction and recycling programs, and sustainable building design.
  • Facilitate and promote environmental leadership through recognition programs and partnerships.
  • Implement departmental strategic initiatives and identify innovative, cost effective opportunities for state government to enhance the quality of life for Tennessee citizens and natural environments.
Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor is Deputy Director of TDEC’s Division of Stakeholder Engagement and is responsible for overseeing the Office of Sustainable Practices and Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. Matt holds a master’s degree in Geography from the University of Arkansas, an MBA from Tennessee State University, a BS in Resource and Environmental Studies from Texas State University, a BS in Urban Studies from Tennessee State University, and a certificate in Sustainable Environmental Management from UC Berkeley. In addition to his educational background, Matt has a range of professional experience in environmental sciences and public policy from his time working with the U.S. Forest Service – Rocky Mountain Research Station, TDEC – Division of Solid Waste Management, and as a Senior Policy Analyst with TDEC’s Policy Office.

You can reach Matt by email at matthew.k.taylor@tn.gov or by phone at 615-979-2449.

Caleb Powell

Caleb Powell is an Environmental Scientist with the Office of Sustainable Practices and currently sits on the Tennessee Recycling Coalition’s Executive Board of Directors. He became interested in sustainability at a young age and has prior experience in the recycling industry, event coordination, and energy conservation.  Caleb assists with the Tennessee Green Star Partnership and the Tennessee Sustainable Spirits Program at TDEC. He has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sustainability and Energy Technology from Middle Tennessee State University. He also holds his Energy Management Diploma from North Carolina State University.

You can reach Caleb by email at caleb.powell@tn.gov or by phone at 615-920-9429.

Chris Pianta

Christopher Pianta is an Environmental Program Manager for the Office of Sustainable Practices. He has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Tennessee, and a Masters in Environmental Engineering from Vanderbilt University. Chris spent the early part of his career in consulting, working mostly on solid waste and remediation projects. Since transitioning to his current career with the State, Chris has developed both an expertise and a passion for sustainability, particularly in the field of waste reduction and energy efficiency. He is one of the Office's Team Leads and is responsible for managing several programs that focus on assisting State entities, businesses, and communities to improve their triple bottom line through implementation of sustainable practices.

You can reach Chris by email at christopher.pianta@tn.gov or by phone at 615-852-1513.

Crystal Warren

Crystal Warren is the Small Business Environmental Outreach and Education Specialist for the program. She joined the SBEAP in 2021 following 10 years with the Division of Water Resources. As such, she has quickly become the go-to person for technical questions relating to water. Outside of her TDEC career, she is also a yoga instructor in the Memphis area.

Crystal can be reached through the SBEAP hotline at 800-734-3619 or by email at Crystal.Warren@tn.gov.

Donovan Grimwood

Donovan Grimwood started with the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP) in 1999 and has stayed with that program through about 6 different division changes (currently in the new Division of Stakeholder Engagement). In 2014, he was named the Small Business Environmental Ombudsman, though he still mostly does technical work in the SBEAP. He is active in the National network of other state SBEAPs. Currently he is Chair of the National Steering Committee of the SBEAPs, part of the Website Advisory Committee of the National SBEAP network, and part of the newly formed Environmental Justice workgroup of the NSC.

Donovan can be reached by phone at either the SBEAP hotline at 800-734-3619 or directly at 629-266-1862 or by email at Donovan.Grimwood@tn.gov.

Heather Weldon

Heather Weldon is an Executive Administrative Assistant for the Division of Stakeholder Engagement. She manages the budget, assists with time and labor, travel, and is the procurement officer for the division.  Prior to working for the office, Heather worked for the Division of Fiscal Services, processing the utility bills for the department, as well as employee travel approval and training.  Heather has worked with the Department of Environment and Conservation for 25 years.

You can reach Heather by email at heather.weldon@tn.gov or by phone at 615-761-4250.

Joelle Ciriacy is an Environmental Scientist with the Office of Sustainable Practices (OSP). Joelle assists with the Get Food Smart TN Program, Food Waste Prevention Week, and The Catalyst newsletter. Joelle became passionate about sustainability through her love of community development and the outdoors. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lee University and a Master of Science in Biology from Tennessee Technological University. Before joining OSP, Joelle researched many different organisms including native fishes, Sage Grouse, Elk, Eastern Hellbenders, and trees.

You can reach Joelle by email at joelle.ciriacy@tn.gov or by phone at 615-969-9963.

Kathy Glapa

Kathy Glapa serves as a Program Manager in the Office of Sustainable Practices. She promotes and manages projects such as the Clean Tennessee Energy Grants, Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards, Unwanted Household Pharmaceuticals Take-Back program, Tennessee Green Star Partnership, and the Pollution Prevention grant. She managed a miniature golf course for 12 years in Clarksville, Tennessee before joining the department in 2005 with Tennessee State Parks. After working with parks for a year she joined the Office of Sustainable Practices to manage the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program and the Radon program. She attended Austin Peay State University and obtained a Bachelor of Science, as well as a Master of Science.

You can reach Kathy by email at kathy.glapa@tn.gov or by phone at 615-795-3539.

Kelsey Davis

Kelsey Davis is an Environmental Consultant with the Office of Sustainable Practices, where her primary responsibilities are providing technical assistance and training regarding waste reduction, food waste diversion and composting, and zero waste. Kelsey serves as the Sustainability Coordinator for TN State Parks where she manages the Go Green With Us program and provides sustainability consulting to all 57 State Parks. She also works to promote environmental awareness through sustainable events, workshops, and education and outreach. Kelsey’s prior experience and training includes solid waste management and recycling, green building, and ecological economics. She also holds the TRUE Zero Waste Advisor credential. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from the University of Memphis and a Masters in Sustainability from David Lipscomb University.

You can reach Kelsey by email at kelsey.davis@tn.gov or by phone at 615-812-7854.


Lexi Brown is an Administrative Assistant with the Office of Sustainable Practices. She works with the daily operations of our Radon Program. She also provides vital assistance with event planning and website construction. Lexi graduated from Franklin Road Academy and attended Middle Tennessee State University. She is a native to Nashville and is passionate about sustainability in Tennessee.

You can reach Lexi by email at lexi.brown@tn.gov or by phone at 615-758-3289.

mark valencia headshot

Mark Valencia is an Environmental Scientist with the Office of Sustainable Practices. Mark’s prior experience includes surface/groundwater conservation and monitoring, indoor/outdoor air quality, waste reduction and recycling, and native plant conservation. He assists with the TN Sustainable Spirits Program, Sustainable Workplace Program and State Government Solid Waste/Recycling Measurement and Reporting Project. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science with a concentration in Environmental Health from California State University – San Bernardino. Mark became interested in sustainability while assisting with the development of sustainability programs for a Southern California Native American Tribe.

You can reach Mark by email at mark.valencia@tn.gov or by phone at 615-934-5826.

Vaughn Cassidy

Vaughn Cassidy is an Environmental Consultant with the Office of Sustainable Practices. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where he received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology. Vaughn is the primary contact for our office’s Materials Management Solutions and assists with the Tennessee Green Star Partnership. He currently specializes in assisting various existing and prospective industries with their sustainability goals.

You can reach Vaughn by email at vaughn.cassidy@tn.gov or by phone at 731-431-7856.