Plenary Speakers & Keynotes:

Majora CarterMajora Carter, President, Majora Carter Group

Majora Carter is an urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous green infrastructure projects, policies and job training and placement systems. After establishing Sustainable South Bronx and Green For All (among other organizations) to carry on that work, she built on this foundation with innovative ventures and insights into urban economic developments designed to help move Americans out of poverty. Majora is a board member of USGBC and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, and she is also a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow.

David OrrDavid Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. He is a celebrated author and environmental expert, particularly active in education and design. In 1996, Dr. Orr organized construction of one of the greenest buildings in North America, the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies. He serves as a trustee for several organizations including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

Esther SternbergEsther Sternberg, MD, Director of Research, University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

Dr. Sternberg is internationally recognized for her discoveries in brain-immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health: the science of the mind-body interaction. She translates complex scientific subjects in a highly accessible manner, with a combination of academic credibility, passion for science and compassion as a physician. Dr. Sternberg is also Founding Director of the UA Institute on Place and Wellbeing, a unique interdisciplinary Institute linking biomedical, health professionals and design professionals to research and create places supporting health and wellbeing.

Dick JacksonRichard Jackson, Professor and Chair of Environmental Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles

Richard Jackson is a Professor at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. A pediatrician, he has served in many leadership positions in both environmental health and infectious disease with the California Health Department, including the highest as the State Health Officer. For nine years he was Director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta and received the Presidential Distinguished Service award. In October, 2011 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Elizabeth BacaElizabeth Baca, MD, MPA, Senior Health Advisor, California Governor’s Office of Planning & Research

Dr. Elizabeth Baca is passionate about building healthy, resilient communities. She is currently serving as the Senior Health Advisor in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. She is working across sectors to foster collaboration, elevate the connection between health and the built environment, and leading the effort to incorporate health considerations into the State General Plan Guidelines.

Tony StefaniTony Stefani, Retired Captain, San Francisco Fire Department, and Founder/President, San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation

Tony Stefani is a retired captain of the San Francisco Fire Department. He founded the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation in 2006 after surviving his own battle with the disease. The native San Franciscan was featured in the HBO documentary “Toxic Hot Seat,” which deals with the topic of flame retardants.

Brian BackBrian Back, Senior VP, Building Health Initiative

Brian, who leads the Building Health Initiative for the U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California, possesses more than two decades’ experience as a social entrepreneur and journalist. Previously he was founder and president of Sustainable Industries, a pioneering media and events enterprise that for more than a decade produced 130 award-winning print and digital magazines, as well as webinars, social media channels, newsletters, videos, podcasts and dozens of live events, including the popular Sustainable Industries Economic Forum series held in several U.S. cities. Brian has also worked as a business columnist, university writing instructor and reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 Session Speakers & Moderators:

Antwi AkomAntwi Akom, Co-Founder, Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED); Founder and CEO, Streetwize; and Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, Public Health and STEM Education, San Francisco State University

Antwi Akom Ph.D. is part of a new generation of college professors, innovators and entrepreneurs building technology to inspire, equip and mobilize people to solve some of the worlds greatest challenges. In 2012 he co-founded the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED) an awarded-winning nonprofit dedicated to building sustainable cities and schools. In 2013 Dr. Akom co-founded Streetwize (A B Corporation) – a best-in-class mobile, mapping and SMS platform for residents to find goods and services, take action on important issues, and visualize neighborhood health and well-being. Dr. Akom has held academic appointments at UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and San Francisco State University.

Lindsay BakerLindsay Baker, VP of Business Development, Building Robotics

Lindsay Baker leads research and marketing for Building Robotics, an emerging venture-backed software startup in the building industry. Prior to that, she worked with Mary Davidge Associates, catalyzing sustainable operations at Google’s headquarters. She is a PhD candidate in Building Science at the University of California at Berkeley. She also worked at the U.S. Green Building Council, developing early LEED rating systems.

Mara BaumMara Baum, Healthcare Sustainable Design Leader, HOK

Mara Baum AIA, LEED AP Fellow, EDAC is HOK’s firmwide Healthcare Sustainable Design Leader. A thought leader in health-based and healthcare design, her work focuses on the intersection between ecological considerations and the creation of a healthy and healing environment. Mara is also online faculty for Boston Architectural College’s Sustainable Design Institute, where she teaches “Green Building and Health” and “Sustainable Design for Healthcare Facilities”. She holds a Master of Architecture and Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of California Berkeley.

Anthony Bernheim

Anthony Bernheim, President, Bernheim+Dean

A leading professional at the forefront of the green building movement, Anthony Bernheim, FAIA, LEED Fellow, has pioneered integrated sustainable building practices for over 30 years, as an architect addressing a wide range of building types and master plans. He is the President and co-founder of Bernheim + Dean, Inc. that provides “deep green” sustainability consulting services, and also is the Sustainability Manager for the Terminal 1 Redevelopment Program at San Francisco International Airport.

Arlene BlumArlene Blum, Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute

Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Visiting Scholar in Chemistry at UC Berkeley and also executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. The Institute brings government, industry, scientists and citizens groups together worldwide to support chemical policies to protect human health and the global environment. This work has contributed to stopping the use of tens of millions of pounds of toxic flame retardants such as Tris in children’s sleepwear, furniture, pillows, bed coverings, electronics and other products worldwide. Blum’s awards include selection by the UK Guardian as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring women in 2011 and National Women’s History Project choice as one of 100 “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet”, and selection as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow.

Ed ChurchEd Church, Executive Director, Institute for Environmental Entrepreneurship

In 1984 Ed Church founded Brighter Beginnings, a maternal and child health nonprofit still going strong today. While at Urban Strategies Council in the late 1980s, he funded, developed and built a maternal and child health facility within a low-income apartment complex in West Oakland. Following that, as Director of the Livable Communities Initiative, he assisted the creation of transit-oriented development in Pleasanton, Dublin and the Uptown area of Oakland. He currently directs the Institute for Environmental Entrepreneurship, designing human interaction with the built environment.

Cindy Comerford

Cyndy Comerford, Manager of Planning & Fiscal Policy, City and County of San Francisco

Cynthia Comerford’s work focuses on comprehensive planning and the development of practical tools and approaches to creating healthy cities. She directs the organizational, policy and fiscal functions of the Environmental Health Branch, which includes developing and evaluating policy and budgets, analyzing legislation, and developing strategic plans. Cynthia is a key leader in the Department’s Program on Health, Equity and Sustainability and has comprehensive management experience leading complex programs from strategy development to implementation and impact assessment.

MIkhail DavisMikhail Davis, Director of Restorative Enterprise, Interface

Mikhail Davis is Director of Restorative Enterprise at Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet (NASDAQ: TILE). He is responsible for building partnerships that shift the marketplace toward sustainability and for helping fulfill on Ray Anderson’s vision to make the company the world’s first restorative enterprise. He holds a B.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University and is a certified Biomimicry Specialist.

George DeniseGeorge Denise, Director of Operations–RWS & Director of Sustainability-HQ, Oracle

Mr. Denise is Director of Operations for Oracle’s headquarters buildings in Redwood City, CA, and Director of Sustainability for Oracle’s HQ Region. Prior to Oracle, he was managing director for Cushman & Wakefield, providing facilities management services for a global portfolio on behalf of Adobe Systems. Mr. Denise and/or the buildings under his management have been the recipients of numerous prestigious awards.

Vince DigneoVince Digneo, Sustainability Strategist, Corporate Responsibility, Adobe Systems Incorporated

Vince Digneo joined Adobe in 2013 as the company’s first Global Sustainability Strategist. In this role he manages the company’s environmental impact, including driving Adobe’s initiative to become Net Zero by 2015. He was previously Global Environmental Sustainability Initiatives Manager at HP, where he and his teammates helped HP achieve their many environmental leadership rankings. Prior to that, he worked at Stanford University as a Senior Associate Director of Natural Sciences Development, specifically focused on the Natural Sciences and Environmental Initiatives.

Suzanne DrakeSuzanne Drake, Senior Interior Designer, Perkins+Will

Suzanne is an Associate and Senior Interior Designer in Perkins+Will’s San Francisco office, and co-Chairs the firmwide Healthy Materials Task Force. Her career has focused on commercial interiors, specializing in creating healthy environments and green interiors. She draws on nearly two decades of on-going green research to support client initiatives and environmental goals. Suzanne is a passionate green living educator and advisor who shares her knowledge through her design work, teaching, and speaking engagements. Her book EcoSoul: Save the Planet and Yourself by ReThinking your Everyday Habits was published in 2013.

Solange GouldSolange Gould, Senior Research Associate, Public Health Institute Center for Climate Change and Health

Solange Gould brings 19 years of public health experience to her current work advocating for strategies that improve health, equity, and climate change. She currently works as a Senior Research Associate at the Public Health Institute Center for Climate Change and Health. She has worked in a range of health promotion programs at the City of Berkeley, Contra Costa County, and Alameda County Public Health Departments, as a consultant to the California Department of Public Health, and in numerous community health centers in Oakland and Northern California.

Jean HansenJean Hansen, LEED Fellow, Sustainable Interiors Manager, HDR Architecture’s Sustainable Design Solutions

With 30+ years of experience in sustainable design, planning and interior design, Jean is responsible for advancing HDR’s sustainability initiatives globally in project and research work for healthcare and institutional environments. She has worked on the development of many nationally recognized sustainable resources, some of which include the USGBC’s LEED Healthcare rating system, Green Guide for Health Care, BIFMA’s level and more recently, the Health Product Declaration (HPD).

Harry HobbsHarry Hobbs, Director of Engineering, InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco

Harry Hobbs is the Director of Engineering for the InterContinental San Francisco, where he is responsible for leading hotel building operations, environmental efficiency, capital improvements, waste diversion, water and energy conservation, renewable power, and an active employee green team. Prior to joining the InterContinental team, Harry held a number of executive positions with Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Johnson Controls at Sun Microsystems, Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Able Building Maintenance, and Marvell Semiconductor. He has directed large engineering projects, and has been responsible for installing several digital building management systems. Hobbs is a leading force in sustainability efforts at the InterContinental San Francisco which includes the recent achievement of the U.S. Green Building Council LEED EBOM Gold certification. He is a credentialed “Certified Facilities Manager” through the International Facilities Management Association.

Anne LessAnne Less, [e]Team Innovation Program Manager, Google Inc.

Anne Less develops collaborative knowledge-sharing systems, in order to ensure that Google teams efficiently and effectively achieve rigorous sustainability goals. She is the Innovation Program Manager for Google’s Real Estate & Workplace Services [e]Team, which integrates insight and resources into design, construction and operations, so the organization can deliver extraordinary environments, experience and ecology. Previous work has included development of Google’s Healthy Materials Program, knowledge management at the U.S. Green Building Council and IBM, and research at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Anne holds a Master of Science in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Judy LevinJudy Levin, Pollution Prevention Director, Center for Environmental Health

Judy Levin has been leading the Center for Environmental Health’s flame retardant campaign for the past 7 years. She works closely with large purchasers including private companies, healthcare organizations and government on how to identify and prefer environmentally preferable products and how to use their purchasing power to move the market towards safer products. Judy has developed a series of resources for purchasers on how to prefer flame retardant-free furniture including purchasing guides for flame retardant-free products, model procurement language, specification guidelines and letters for suppliers. Most recently, Judy helped author a flame retardant disclosure bill in California that will require furniture manufacturers to label their products as to the presence or absence of flame retardant chemicals.

Marily OppezzoMarily Oppezzo, Post Doc Stanford Prevention Research Center / Registered Dietitian

As a Registered Dietitian, Masters in Nutritional Science, and PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus on motivation, Dr. Oppezzo’s multi-disciplinary background and experience bridges compatible disciplines and perspectives on behavior change. Marily is a post-doctoral researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center. Her work investigates how the physical and structural environment can influence cognition and motivation, including how walking improves creative thinking.

John PicardJohn Picard, Founder, John Picard & Associates

John Picard is regarded as one of the preeminent environmental consultants in North America. He began his career as an architect, builder, and entrepreneur. In 1995, John made an important personal transition when he built his own home to operate completely off the grid. Picard was one of the first members of President Clinton’s Greening of the White House team that developed environmental energy audits and innovative upgrade recommendations for the complex. Picard has been published in numerous major trade publications and books and has been a keynote speaker for Fortune 500 companies, universities and technology events.

Geeta RaoGeeta Rao, Initiative Officer, Great Communities Collaborative

Geeta Rao brings 15 years of experience in affordable housing and community development, most recently as Program Manager for a state-wide foreclosure-acquisition program at Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association in Boston, Massachusetts. Previously she was Policy Director at Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), and during her time at NPH was a founding member of the GCC. Geeta has also served on the boards of Housing California and TransForm. Geeta has a BS in anthropology from Bates College and a Masters in City Planning from University of California, Berkeley.

Debbie RaphaelDebbie Raphael, Director, San Francisco Department of the Environment

Debbie Raphael is the new Director of the Department of Environment (SF Environment). She has over 20 years of experience in environmental policy and government administration, and she most recently served as Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for the State of California. In her tenure with DTSC, Raphael was responsible for the protection of human health and the environment from the impacts of toxic chemicals and hazardous waste, and she led a department of over 1,000 employees in 9 offices with a $200 million annual budget.

Anthony RavitzAnthony Ravitz, Real Estate and Workplace Services Green Team Lead, Google

Ravitz, who joined Google in March 2006, develops and implements strategies to “create the healthiest and most productive workplace possible” while reducing the company’s environmental footprint and operating costs. He works on design, construction and operations projects for Google’s global offices. Ravitz earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University.

Cole Roberts

Cole Roberts, Principal, Energy & Resource Sustainability Group, Arup

Cole Roberts leads the energy and sustainability business in Arup’s San Francisco office. He has been a keynote speaker at numerous conferences, an invited speaker to the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, and a published contributor to numerous conferences and peer reviewed journals. He has recently co-authored the book “Two Degrees – Our Built Environment and the Changing Climate”.

Carlos SantamariaCarlos Santamaria, Founder and Principal, CEES-Advisors

Mr. Santamaria has worked in commercial real estate concentrating on energy efficiency, construction and operational best practices strategically positioning himself and portfolio as a top performer and leaders in energy management and sustainability. Formally Vice President of Engineering Services for Glenborough, Carlos is Vice Chair of the Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) International Energy & Environment Committee, a Board of Director and Chair of the BOMA California Energy Committee, and a Steering Committee Co-Chair with the Department of Energy Better Buildings Alliance Group.

Aekta ShahAekta Shah, Program Director of Technology and Community Engagement, Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED); and Program Lead, StreetWize

Aekta Shah is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford University in Technology Design and Program Director of Technology and Youth Engagement at the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational and Environmental Design (I-SEEED). At I-SEEED, Aekta is engaged in research and development on issues including technology, GIS mapping, education and sustainable community development. Committed to providing college and career opportunities to traditionally underserved youth, Aekta has been recognized by organizations such as the Aspen Institute, Green for All, Bioneers and has presented for the UN on issues of sustainable development and education.

Donald SimonDonald Simon, Esq., Partner, Wendel Rosen Black & Dean, LLP

Donald Simon is an attorney and partner at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean in Oakland, CA. Devoted to building the green economy, Donald created the firm’s Green Business Practice Group in 2003, co-founded Build It Green and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California Chapter, and co-chaired the effort to draft and pass California’s Benefit Corporation legislation. With deep litigation experience and a current focus on transactional matters, Donald serves as outside general counsel to numerous game-changing companies throughout California and specializes in matters of construction, solar and corporate law.

Alex SpilgerAlex Spilger, Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Cassidy Turley & Founder, GreenStep

Alex Spilger is Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Cassidy Turley and Founder of GreenStep Education. He has consulted on over 75 diverse green building projects with high profile clients such as Google, Salesforce, Skype, GoPro and the Wharton School of Business among others. His project achievements include the first LEED Platinum Major Renovation project on the west coast, the first LEED CI Platinum project in California and one of the first projects to attempt the prestigious Living Building Challenge. Alex has taught over 300 green building workshops across the globe through organizations such as USGBC, AIA, Sustainable Building Advisors Program and the Stanford Graduate School of Business to name a few. He has also developed curriculum for UC Berkeley where he teaches a 6-week Green Building Project Management course.

Erica StewartErica Stewart, Principal Consultant, National Environmental, Health and Safety, Kaiser Permanente

Erica Stewart has 30 years’ experience in the EH&S field, the last twenty-three at Kaiser Permanente. In her current position, Erica is responsible for developing, organizing, and managing nationwide initiatives in collaboration with other departments, including procurement and facility design teams, to ensure that Kaiser Permanente’s building designs, medical devices and products incorporate measures that eliminate or control chemical exposures and increase indoor environmental quality. Before joining Kaiser Permanente, Erica worked for industrial hygiene consultants assessing occupational exposure to various chemical and physical hazards.

Andrea TraberAndrea Traber, Principal, Integral Group

Internationally recognized as a green building and sustainability expert, Andrea contributes over 20 years of experience as Project Architect and Principal on numerous green building projects, climate action plans, as well as sustainability and energy programs, to the Integral team. In 2013, Andrea joined Integral Group following a seven year tenure at a leading global energy and sustainability consulting firm, where she lead the Sustainable Buildings and Communities consulting group in the Americas.

Simon TurnerSimon Turner, CEO, Healthy Buildings International

Simon Turner is CEO of Healthy Buildings. His company specializes in indoor air quality, energy, water and LEED programs throughout the US with multiple offices in California and outside Washington DC and New York. With a degree in applied biology from the United Kingdom, Mr. Turner conducted air pollution research in South Africa and then joined Healthy Buildings in 1987 where his role included indoor air quality testing, method development, marketing, and project management. He established Healthy Buildings Western Regional office in 1995.

Scott WatkinsScott Watkins, Managing Partner, Buildaberg

Scott Watkins is Managing Partner of integrated green building consultancy Buildaberg and a current graduate student at Mills College, where he is earning a Master’s in Public Policy and MBA. Scott is committed to research sharing and mainstreaming innovative strategies such as, Health Impact Assessments, Active Design, and climate Cool Zones to promote and enhance healthy, affordable and resilient neighborhoods to form strong local economies. Scott views land use and development issues from the ground up, where one can take time to consider the human-scale impacts of planning strategies and decisions.

Bill WeihlBill Weihl, Manager of Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Facebook

Bill Weihl joined Facebook in early 2012 to lead the company’s sustainability and energy efficiency efforts. He was previously the Green Energy Czar at Google, where he led engineering efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency. He also helped create and led the REC initiative, which drove rapid innovation to make renewable electricity cost-competitive with coal-fired electricity. In addition, he co-founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which galvanized industry efforts to make computing more energy efficient. Prior to Google, he was Chief Architect and then CTO at Akamai Technologies.

Heather WootenHeather Wooten, VP of Programs, ChangeLab Solutions

Heather Wooten is a vice president of programs at ChangeLab Solutions, leading the organization’s work in Healthy Planning. She manages a team of professionals researching best practices, developing policy tools, and working with communities to connect land use, community development, and health. She is a co-author of one of the premier publications on developing and implementing health policy language in land use plans, How to Create and Implement Healthy General Plans.


More speakers announced soon – stay tuned!

Building Health Forum Advisors