Meet our new employees: Mali Calvo and Tasnuva Udita

Headshots of Mali Calvo (left) and Tasnuva Udita (right).

We're excited to introduce our newest team members to the Office of Sustainability: Mali Calvo and Tasnuva Udita! Mali and Tasnuva will be supporting the Office of Sustainability in the creation of a regional climate action plan. Mali will work with partners across Central Texas to coordinate the creation of the plan, while Tasnuva will focus on compiling and analyzing data in support of its creation. Both positions are funded through the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant, offered through the Inflation Reduction Act. Please join us in welcoming them and read more about their journey to our office!


Q: Where are you from, and what do you like best about your hometown?

Mali: I’m from a small town outside of Philadelphia. My family members in the United States all live less than a 30-minute drive away, and many are within walking distance. I grew up living with, and eventually across the street from, my hilarious and generous grandmother. My favorite thing to do was walking to her house for happy hour, often finding that other family members had beaten me there! A bit further from my hometown, pine trees give to cattails on the way to the shore. I love taking long runs on the bayside, ending at the lighthouse and diving in.

Tasnuva: I am originally from Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. I become most nostalgic about its food. The city is big and versatile in its street food culture, which means that anywhere you go, you will definitely find some food to your liking or taste!


Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what interested you in joining the Office of Sustainability.

Mali: I grew up working on an oyster farm with my mother. The nature of the work required us to arrive based on the tidal schedule, catching the low tides when sandbars holding our oyster racks were exposed to the sun. Each year presented new challenges, and increasingly, the effects of climate change became undeniable for us and surrounding farmers. My life’s work will be to explore and preserve our personal, cultural, and societal connections to nature. I left the farm to study environmental policy in St. Louis, where I learned about and reflected on how race and identity impact the ways that we are affected by climate change. 

When I moved to Austin and began working at the Parks and Recreation Department, I enjoyed getting to know the city and all of the robust community happenings by attending events for that job. When I saw this opening at the Office of Sustainability, I knew it would be a good opportunity to combine my passion for Austin's communities, environmental justice, and climate action.   

Tasnuva: I spent most of my academic life working towards finding nature-based, sustainable solutions to existing environmental problems. I always knew that I would be pursuing the same goal in my professional career as well. I very recently completed my Ph.D. from the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University. When I saw the Environmental Program Analyst position with the Office of Sustainability, I considered it the perfect platform to carry out this notion. I am excited that now I have the opportunity to apply my knowledge and skills towards a real-world challenge. I'm looking forward to performing my responsibilities in support of our community.


Q: What are you most excited to accomplish during your time with the Office of Sustainability?

Mali: In the coming months, I plan to begin organizing and supporting the development of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures in the Austin region. My priority is to work with leaders and members of marginalized communities to ensure that GHG reduction measures support quality of life, equitable outcomes, and community resilience. I am excited to be part of a team that centers equity in sustainability work and look forward to learning from peers and community members as I begin at the Office of Sustainability.  

Tasnuva: There is no denying the fact that we all are experiencing the effects of climate change, especially during the past few years when multiple winter storms and extreme droughts have hit Texas. These events left the state in a vulnerable position. I strongly believe that taking a strategic approach to tackling climate change can create a significant impact. I hope to contribute effectively and efficiently towards achieving our vision for the future.


Q: What are some of your favorite things to do or places to go in Austin?

Mali: The movie version of my life in Austin would be a montage of walking my dog with different friends in new neighborhoods, around the lake, and at all hours. I honestly would not watch this film — there is no plot — but I think a walking montage would well represent the way that Austin as a city has supported my values of connection, reflection, and being outside! I love that most of the year, I can put on a pair of shorts and step outside.

Tasnuva: Austin is best known for its live music and breweries... if there’s a combination of both, that's where you'll find me (with my partner). We are also big foodies! We are always hunting for local food trucks or eateries to experience authentic cuisines. On a clear night, we love to take a stroll through downtown after a late-night movie or a concert to enjoy the stunning view of the city skyline.


Q: What is your favorite sustainable thing to do in your personal life?

Mali: Being in community! There are so many benefits from sharing resources and rides to supporting and encouraging activism, outdoor activities, and lifelong learning. During COVID, a group of roommates and I began a now twenty-five-person group chat, which became an organizing communication bulletin for our new community. Within this network of support and friendship, I deeply value the shared principles of sustainability. Together, we carpool to a volleyball league, enjoy company while biking to see live music, and exchange clothing during annual swap events. I’m grateful for the social resilience this community has provided me. Their encouragement and collective action have inspired me to take on climate justice topics in my professional life. 

Tasnuva: Water conservation. I try to minimize wasted water in all aspects of my daily life. The drastic decline in our groundwater level suggests that we all should adopt a similar approach and not stretch the limits of this valuable resource.


Q: What is your favorite food and why?

Mali: Growing up near Philadephia, I have to say Italian Hoagies (photo for reference)!

Tasnuva: Anything spicy, I am up for it! But if I must pick one, I would go with my mom’s khichuri (a Southeast Asian dish made with lentil, rice, and various spices) served with a fried egg and chili on top. Growing up, this used to be a weekend staple in our house. Now, whenever I try to recreate this recipe, it brings back all the memories from those times.