Below is a summary of the 2018 GBENN Summit. To download presentations, please visit our Resources page and Summit History tab and download Summit presentations.

Conference Day 1: Thursday, November 8, 2018

Held at the Museum of Science and Industry – 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago IL

9:30am – 10:30am: Green Business Engagement National Network Welcome and Attendee Introductions + Sharing

10:30am – 11:30am – GBENN Keynote Presentation: United Eco-Skies

Aaron Stash – Manager, Environmental Strategy and Sustainability

United is committed to operating sustainably and responsibly. This commitment means we strive to minimize the environmental impacts associated with our operations and continuously look for ways to reduce our footprint in the air, on the ground and at our facilities. Aaron will speak about their biofuels program in Los Angeles, as well as many other initiatives United has taken on to reduce their impact in the air and on the ground each day.

To learn more about United Eco-Skies before the Summit, click here.

11:30am – 12:30pm – Session 1:

“Building Collaborative Community Partnerships that Bolster Funding and Build Program Capacity”

Join the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, the California Green Business Network and the Hawaii State Energy Office in exploring three different stories of how their organizations have built unique partnerships to tackle major community issues, secure state budget funding for their green business program and how internships can bolster organizational capacity and bring funders to your program. After this session is complete, we will host a World Café – style discussion over lunch.

  • Daniel Schoonmaker – Director, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
  • Jo Fleming –  Director, California Green Business Network
  • Gail Suzuki-Jones – Energy Analyst, Hawaii State Energy Office

12:30pm: Lunch and Discussion Roundtables

1:30pm: Session 2:

“Listen to your Business Community – Adapting Program Models to Meet Business Needs and Interest”

In this session, we’ll explore how two green business programs modified and changed their green business program models to better serve their businesses and create real behavior change in the companies they serve. We will also discuss why these programs made a transition to a different model and how both programs uncovered the metrics that mean the most to their programs, funding partners and their business community.

  • Mary Lynn Wilhere – Sustainable Business Programs, DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)
  • Dani Glaser – Founder/CEO, Green Business Partnership, New York

2:30pm: Session 3:

“Comparing Two Regional Program Models – Engaging and Sharing Business Participants Across Partners and Synergistic Community Programs”

  • Emily Backus – Business Sustainability Advisor, Certifiably Green Denver, CO
  • Zac Swank – Business Sustainability Coordinator, Partners for a Clean Environment
  • Stephanie Thomas – Senior Project Manager, EnviroStars
  • Sue Hamilton – Technical Assistance Field Team Lead, EnviroStars King County

3:30pm: Day 1 Wrap-up and Travel to Tour

4:00pm: Tour: The Plant Chicago – A Circular Economy Model for Innovation in Sustainability and Workplace.  See

5:30pm – 7:30pm: Networking Reception for Green Business Programs

7:30pm – Wrap Up and Depart


Conference Day 2: Friday, November 9, 2018

Held at the Museum of Science and Industry – 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago IL

9:00am: Session 4:

“Building Standards and Adjusting Your Program to Serve Unique Business Sectors”

  • Emily Backus – Business Sustainability Advisor, Certifiably Green Denver, CO
  • Jeremy Lauffenburger – Sustainability Consultant – Certifiably Green Denver

10:00am: Session 5:

“Focus on Impact and Efficiency, Not Waste! Engaging Large Facilities and Major Events in Resource Reduction Best Practices”

  • Stephanie Katsaros – Founder/CEO, Bright Beat, Chicago IL

11:00am – 11:20am: Break

11:30am: Session 6:

“Marketing and Business Recruitment – Strategies for Business Recruitment while Maintaining your Program Brand and Presence in the Community”

  • Shawn Orgel-Olson – Director of Sustainability Services, California Green Business Network
  • Emily Backus – Business Sustainability Advisor, Certifiably Green Denver, CO
  • Adam Hammes – Executive Director, Iowa Sustainable Business Forum

12:30pm: Lunch and GBENN Development Session

1:30pm: Wrap up and Depart

2:00pm: Numbers in Nature – A Mirror Maze: Mathematical Patterns in Nature; Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry (Free – Optional)


GBENN 2018 Summit Speaker Biographies

Emily Backus PhotoEmily Backus – Sustainability Advisor, City of Denver, CO
Emily Backus is a Sustainability Advisor with Denver Department of Public Health & Environment’s Certifiably Green Denver program. She assists businesses in a variety of sectors across Denver that seek to reduce their environmental impact, improve operational efficiency and save money. In addition to supporting typical businesses like restaurants, retail stores and offices, Ms. Backus works to develop green standards and certifications for local emerging industries including breweries and the cannabis sector. Ms. Backus has a background in hospitality management, environmental consulting and financial analysis and is an alumna of Cornell University.


Josephine Fleming – Executive Director, California Green Business Network
Jo has over 25 years experience in the environmental and sustainability realm in a wide breadth of scientific research, environmental remediation, commercial/industrial pollution prevention, environmental outcome data and community-based programs. She has worked for large environmental consulting firms, for technology companies, for learning institutions and for local government. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Minor in Spanish Literature. She has worked to establish numerous Green Business Programs, green hundreds of businesses, and serves as the Executive Director of the California Green Business Network.

Dani Glaser – Founder/CEO, Green Business Partnership, New York
Dani Glaser is the founder and CEO of Green Team Spirit LLC, which provides organizations with the tools and expertise that they need to successfully integrate sustainable practices into company operations. Glaser’s company developed the proprietary GTS Toolkit© which contains templates, resource links and step-by-step guidance to set policy, take action and measure performance in the areas of organizational commitment, energy, transportation, materials management .” waste/recycling and green purchasing, water, and land use. Dani’s company provides the licensed tools and expertise to the Green Business Partnership (GBP).

Sue Hamilton – Technical Assistance Field Team Lead, EnviroStars King County
Sue Hamilton, Health & Environmental Investigator III for the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County (LHWMP). Sue brings nearly 30 years of experience engaging businesses in environmental compliance and
protection programs.

Adam Hammes – Executive Director, Iowa Sustainable Business Forum
Adam helped launch a new industry association, the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum (ISBF), and has served as its Executive Director since 2014. ISBF connects Iowa businesses to continuously improve practices that positively impact people, planet, and profits.

Adam Hammes is a sustainability consultant in Iowa helping businesses profit from environmental and social responsibility. He has authored two books and teaches CSR & Sustainability for evening MBA students at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. Previously, Adam served as the first corporate manager of sustainability for Kum & Go. He led efforts to become the only convenience store chain in the world certified in the LEED Volume green building program, and the first in the US to roll-out recycling-at-the-pump for customers in three major cities. Adam speaks at events to empower businesses, communities, and individuals on their sustainable journey.

Stephanie Katsaros – Founder/CEO, Bright Beat, Chicago IL
A social entrepreneur, thought leader and business strategist, Stephanie founded Bright Beat in 2010 with a focus on environmental stewardship and social responsibility. She leads the development, assessment and promotion of multifaceted sustainability programs for an array of businesses, municipalities, facilities and events, raising the bar for responsible operations and public engagement. An active voice in the community, Stephanie leads the Chicago Sustainability Task Force, serves on the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition Board of Directors, and the iHeartMedia Chicago Advisory Board. Developing engaging and industry leading Eco Education, Stephanie has shared her strategies at conferences from Tennessee to California, and was awarded the Illinois Recycling Association Educator of the Year in 2014.

Jeremy Lauffenburger – Sustainability Consultant, Certifiably Green Denver
Jeremy Lauffenburger has worked in energy efficiency and commercial sustainability for ten years and enjoys helping businesses of all shapes and sizes realize their environmental conservation goals. He earned his business finance degree from CU-Boulder (go Buffs) and has since completed additional training in hazardous waste management, Lean business principals, CBSM, building science and solar PV. Jeremy strives to showcase the tremendous
beneficial effects of combining efficiency and conservation practices.

Shawn Orgel-Olson – Director of Marketing and Performance Standards, California Green Business Network
Shawn Orgel-Olson is the Director of Marketing and Performance Standards for the Califorornia Green Business Network (CAGBN) where he focuses on program operations, recruitment strategy, and standards development. He also advises the Performance Standards and Marketing Committees of CAGBN. Prior to joining CAGBN, Mr. Orgel-Olson worked for the City of Santa Cruz on their Operations and Resource Recovery teams where he focused on energy efficiency, resource recovery and oversaw the City’s Green Business Program. The City of Santa Cruz boasts some of the highest numbers of certified Green Businesses per capita. His experience working at Disney Consumer Products in their Sustainable Business Practices and International Labor Standards groups provides invaluable corporate sustainability experience. As a Project Coordinator for the Alliance to Save Energy at UC Berkeley he focused on projects that reduced the energy consumption of fume hoods, dormitories and other facilities.

Daniel Schoonmaker – Director, Western Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
Daniel Schoonmaker has been West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum since 2013. In this capacity, he has helped developed the most popular regional sustainable business programs in the Great Lakes, with hundreds of professionals engaged in strategic initiatives focused on waste diversion, sustainable food systems, climate resiliency, social responsibility and pollution prevention. He has been recognized by Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of its 2016 Forty Business Leaders Under 40 and as a 2017 Newsmaker of the Year. He is also a LEED Accredited Professional.

GSJones_edited-1Gail Suzuki-Jones, Energy Analyst, Hawaii State Energy Office
Gail Suzuki-Jones, Energy Analyst and LEED Accredited Professional O+M, has worked with the Hawaii State Energy Office at the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism since 1997. She received her Masters of Architecture from University of Washington and is an active member of the US Green Building Council Hawaii Chapter. With government, non-profit, and private sector experience in the implementation of energy and resource-efficient design and construction practices, Gail works closely with business, community, government and NGO entities to implement energy and resource efficient green building and green business programs, projects, events and measures.

Zac Swank – Business Sustainability Coordinator, Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE)
Zac supervises PACE’s team of expert advisors and works with PACE’s partners to collaboratively set the strategic direction of the organization. Zac has an MBA and BA in environmental politics. Before coming to Boulder County, Zac served as operations manager of eGo CarShare and worked at Natural Capitalism Solutions, where he helped a $1.8 billion restaurant chain establish its first sustainability program.

stephanie_thomas (cropped)Stephanie Thomas – Director, Cascadia Consulting Group
Stephanie Thomas, Director at Cascadia Consulting Group, brings a decade of experience designing,implementing, managing, and evaluating successful green business programs. Stephanie currently leads a large team on the Seattle Green Business Program to provide outreach and technical assistance to thousands of Seattle businesses to conserve resources and prevent pollution. She recently led an effort to help bring individual green business programs offered through several cities, counties, and utilities under one umbrella program to better serve her client’s business customers. Stephanie facilitated all aspects of program design and now manages the implementation of the growing, statewide EnviroStars green business program. Stephanie has managed other green business programs throughout the West Coast. Stephanie holds a B.A. (with honors) in Environmental Studies and Resource Management from the University of Washington.

Mary Lynn Wilhere – Program Analyst, Sustainable Business Programs, Urban Sustainability Administration, Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)
Ms. Wilhere serves as the business outreach coordinator for the Department of Energy and Environment in Washington, D.C. Ms. Wilhere has worked for more than thirty years in the environmental field to assist businesses with their pollution prevention and sustainability practices. Prior to joining DOEE, she worked as the business outreach coordinator for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office. Ms. Wilhere began her career working on economic impact studies of environmental legislation for oil, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. Ms. Wilhere holds a business degree from Georgetown University and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh.