University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899
The iconic Broyhill Wind turbine, installed on campus in 2009, is 153 feet tall and generates enough electricity to meet the demands of 11 typical American households.
The iconic Broyhill Wind turbine, installed on campus in 2009, is 153 feet tall and generates enough electricity to meet the demands of 11 typical American households.

Our Team

Lee F. Ball Jr., PhD

Chief Sustainability Officer
Office: East Residence Hall (Bottom Floor)
Phone: 828.262.2659
Email: balllf@appstate.edu

Lee F. Ball Jr. has a doctorate in Sustainability Education, a master's degree in Environmental Education, and a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science. Lee is currently the Chief Sustainability Officer at Appalachian State University. Prior to this, he spent fourteen years teaching sustainable building design in Appalachian State University's Department of Sustainable Technologies and the Built Environment. Lee’s scholarly and professional interests focus on nature-based solutions, sustainability leadership, sustainability literacy, resilience, biophilic design, regenerative design, decarbonization, climate justice, and change agency related to community engagement. He is the chair of Appalachian State’s campus wide strategic planning committee, and is an integral part of the university’s leadership. He is also active globally and has led international programs to Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Scotland, and Russia. In addition, Lee is heavily involved with numerous local and regional sustainability organizations.


Jim Dees

Data and Assessment Specialist
Office: East Residence Hall (Bottom Floor)
Phone: 828.262.2658
Fax: 828.262.2666
Email: deesjh@appstate.edu

Jim serves the office as a specialist focusing on sustainability data, Appalachian's involvement with the ACUPCC Climate Action Planning process and the university's Renewable Energy resource responsibilities to the State of North Carolina.

Jim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Frostburg State University. He comes to us from Guilford College, where he built and managed their Sustainability Program. Jim brings with him a wealth of experience in the field of sustainability ranging from climate action planning to sustainable urban agriculture. Jim's a natural enthusiasm to educate, along with his intentionally simplistic approach to sustainability, are two strengths that he adds to the team. Oh yeah, and if you have a few minutes, ask him about his kids!


Heidi Ellis

Office Manager
Office: East Residence Hall (Bottom Floor)
Phone: 828.262.2669
Fax: 828.262.2666
Email: ellishj1@appstate.edu

Serving as Office Manager, Heidi Ellis joined the department in 2022. She brings 20+ years of experience in Office Administration and Management from her previous time in the Retail Property Management field. Heidi has a contributive knowledge of organization and administrative effectiveness in local and corporate office settings. She is excited to generate interactions with a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff members.

An alumna of Appalachian State, Heidi earned an MA Degree in Special Education-Cross Categorical and a BA Degree in Communication Disorders with an English minor. She enjoys the outdoors, travel, genealogy, flower gardening, home decorating, and spending time with family.


Laura Johnston

Events and Finance Director
Office: East Residence Hall (Bottom Floor)
Phone: 828.262.2664
Email: johnstonl@appstate.edu

Laura began working at the university in 2014, after fourteen years in the sustainable building field. She manages the many budgets associated with the Office of Sustainability's diverse initiatives. Laura also organizes the annual Appalachian Energy Summit and provides support for additional events, including the university's Solar Vehicle Team's competitions. She is a member of AppalFRESH (Appalachian Food Research for Equity, Sustainability, and Health), a collaborative of faculty, staff, students, and community members.

Laura earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Appalachian State University: a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a self-designed concentration in Sustainable Development in 1999 (along with minors in Appropriate Technology and Anthropology) and a MA in Appalachian Studies with a concentration in Sustainability in Appalachia in 2019. She focused her graduate research on food security in southern Appalachia. Laura enjoys photography, hiking, camping, and playing frisbee golf with her husband, sons, and beagle.


Jennifer Maxwell

Sustainability Program Director
Office: East Residence Hall (Bottom Floor)
Phone: 828.262.2667
Email: maxwelljb@appstate.edu

Jennifer has been with Appalachian State University since 2006 and leads many of our campus sustainability programs including our University Zero Waste Commitment, the Mountaineer Food Hub and Free Store, Green Suite Engagement Programs, Green Labs Program Development, Sustainable Purchasing, Event Planning, and the Sustainability Film Series. She is a founding member of the App State Sustainability Council and Living Green Residential Learning Community. When she is not working on campus specific projects, Jennifer chair's the Collegiate Recycler's Coalition of North and South Carolina and also serves as Chair for the Board of Directors of the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC), a national organization that represents a vibrant community of waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability professionals in higher education. She studied and received a BS in Sustainable Technology with a minor in business in 2001, and a MA in Higher Education with a concentration in Community College and University Leadership in 2017, both from Appalachian. In her free time Jennifer enjoys live music, the great outdoors, and time with her family!