Speakers for VX2020

Christine Harada
President
i(x) investments
Biography

Christine Harada

President
i(x) investments

Christine Harada is President of i(x) investments. Ms. Harada has over 20 years of success in leading government and management consulting organizations. She previously served as the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer for the United States during the Obama administration. In this role, she provided oversight for all sustainability-related initiatives across the federal government in energy, fleet, and acquisitions-game-changing improvements that added to our nation’s clean energy future.

Her successes include developing and implementing policies to reduce the Federal government’s carbon footprint that resulted in an 18% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 23% reduction in energy use at Federal facilities and 177 billion gallons of drinkable water saved. She also was responsible for investing $4B in federal building to improve aging infrastructure and lower overall energy consumption that led to an estimated 33,700 private sector jobs and resulted in efficiency gains that will save 1.4 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Prior to her White House role, Ms. Harada was the Acting Chief of Staff and U.S. General Services Administration where she was responsible for the overall operations supporting 12,000 federal workers with an annual operating budget of $26B. While at the GSA, Ms. Harada also served as Associate Administrator, Government-wide Policy and Chief Acquisition Officer responsible for transforming a “business model” to provide more proactive, evidence-based policies, and increased transparency at the agency.

She has extensive expertise in business strategy and translating that into operational excellence. Concurrently, she is a Fellow with the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of Novume Solutions and the Millennium Institute.

She previously was a Partner with Ridge-Lane LP, a strategic advisory firm and merchant-bank. Ridge-Lane LP is a triple-bottom-line business that creates sustainable social value by bridging the gap that exists between private companies, investment capital, and government – across the Federal, State, and Local levels.

Ms. Harada’s private sector experience also includes serving as Global Manager, Transformation/Large Scale Change Practice at the Boston Consulting Group where which she was responsible for the operations and go-to-market strategy of the then-new practice area that spanned 78 offices around the world. While at Booz Allen Hamilton, Ms. Harada was a Principal with P&L responsibility for a 70+ person professional services business line with a $70M portfolio of projects.

Ms. Harada holds an MA, International Studies and an MBA, Finance, respectively, from the Lauder Institute and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an MS Aeronautics/Astronautics and a BS Aeronautics/Astronautics, respectively, from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Henry Stern
State Senator
California State Senate
Biography

Henry Stern

State Senator
California State Senate

Henry Stern is an educator and environmental attorney, who most recently served as senior advisor to California State Senator Fran Pavley. In that capacity, he helped craft legislation to address climate change, fracking, the drought, teacher shortages, and women's health.  He also spearheaded the Senator’s ongoing efforts to clean up the SoCal Gas leak in Porter Ranch with SB 380.

A graduate of Harvard University and UC Berkeley Law, Henry has public and private sector experience in education, the environment, and infrastructure investment. Prior to serving the 27th District, he served as counsel to Congressman Henry Waxman on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, helped businesses construct clean energy projects, taught civics, advocated for juvenile justice, and founded a tech incubator.

Henry also teaches law at UCLA, volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club, and is a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Advisory Committee, the Jewish Federation, and the Truman National Security Project.

David Hochschild
Commissioner
California Energy Commission
Biography

David Hochschild

Commissioner
California Energy Commission

David Hochschild was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in February 2013. He fills the environmental position on the five-member Commission where four of the five members by law are required to have professional training in specific areas - engineering or physical science, environmental protection, economics, and law.

Commissioner Hochschild’s career has spanned public service, environmental advocacy and the private sector. He first got involved in the solar energy field in 2001 in San Francisco as a Special Assistant to Mayor Willie Brown where he launched a citywide $100 million initiative to put solar panels on public buildings. He went on to co-found the Vote Solar Initiative, a 60,000-member advocacy organization promoting solar policies at the local, state and federal level. He served as executive director of a national consortium of leading solar manufacturers and worked for five years at Solaria, a solar company in Silicon Valley. In 2007-2008, he served as a commissioner at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

For his work to advance clean energy, Commissioner Hochschild was awarded the Sierra Club’s Trailblazer Award, the American Lung Association’s Clean Air Hero Award and the Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roof True Champion Award. Commissioner Hochschild holds a B.A. degree from Swarthmore College and a Masters of Public Policy degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.

Larry Kosmont
President & CEO
Kosmont Companies
Biography

Larry Kosmont

President & CEO
Kosmont Companies

Larry J. Kosmont, CRE®, is President and CEO of Kosmont Companies, which he founded in 1986. Kosmont Companies is an industry leader in public/private real estate transactions and economic development. In 1990, he founded Kosmont Realty Corporation, a real estate brokerage firm. In 2015, he launched Kosmont Transactions Services which sources private financing for public projects, P3 initiatives, and infrastructure funding. He’s also a Principal of California Golden Fund, an approved EB-5 Regional Center.

His 40-year career encompasses public/private financial structuring and negotiations, development, and management of real estate and public finance transactions exceeding $12B. He has an extensive track record as a consultant and advisor who has assisted hundreds of local government agencies and guided over 1,000 private sector projects.

Mary Nichols
Chair
California Air Resources Board
Biography

Mary Nichols

Chair
California Air Resources Board

Mary D. Nichols is Chair of the California Air Resources Board, a post she has held since 2007.

Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and nonprofit service to advocating for the environment and public health. In addition to her work at the Air Board, she has served as Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Air and Radiation program under President Clinton, Secretary for California's Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003 and Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her priorities as chairman include moving ahead on the state's landmark climate change program (AB 32), steering the Board through numerous efforts to curb diesel pollution at ports and continuing to pass regulations aimed at providing cleaner air for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. She values innovation, partnerships and common-sense approaches to addressing the state's air issues.

Carla Peterman
Senior Vice President
Southern California Edison
Biography

Carla Peterman

Senior Vice President
Southern California Edison

Carla J. Peterman was appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in December 2012. Commissioner Peterman was the CPUC’s assigned Commissioner for a number of proceedings including energy efficiency, alternative transportation, energy storage, PCIA reform, California Teleconnect Fund reform, San Jose Water Company merger, and several rate cases.  As a Commissioner, Peterman served on many boards including the NARUC Board of Directors and the California Broadband Council. She served as the Chair of the Plug in Electric Vehicle Collaborative for 2012-2013. After chairing the California Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery, is now Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Southern California Edison

She was previously appointed by Governor Brown, in 2011, to the California Energy Commission where she was lead Commissioner for renewables, transportation, and natural gas.

Carla Peterman has conducted research at the University of California Energy Institute and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and was an investment banker focused on energy financing at Lehman Brothers.

Carla Peterman holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Energy and Resources from The University of California Berkeley. She also earned a Master of Science degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Commissioner Peterman holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Howard University.

Hiroaki Ishizuka
Chairman
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
Biography

Hiroaki Ishizuka

Chairman
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)

Mr. Hiroaki Ishizuka was appointed chairman of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) effective as of April 1, 2018.

 Mr. Ishizuka held a series of senior executive management level positions within Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Japan's largest chemical company, between 2009 and 2018. From June 2009 to March 2011 he served as Managing Executive Officer and Executive Officer. Following this, he served as Senior Managing Executive Officer from April 2011 to March 2012. He then served as President and Chief Executive Officer from April 2012 to March 2017. He also served as Senior Corporate Advisor from April 2017 to March 2018.

Mr. Ishizuka graduated from the Faculty of Chemical Science of the University of Tokyo in March 1972.

Mel Levine
President
LADWP Board of Commissioners
Biography

Mel Levine

President
LADWP Board of Commissioners

Mel Levine is counsel in the Century City office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  He served as a member of the United States Congress from 1983 until 1993 and as a member of the California Assembly from 1977 to 1982.  He is a member of the California bar and the District of Columbia bar.

Mr. Levine’s practice concentrates on counseling clients on the Public Policy aspects of complex domestic and international transactions.  His clients have included companies involved in a range of industries, including banking, transportation, high technology, energy, entertainment, health care, defense, manufacturing, construction and telecommunications.

Mr. Levine was named one of the “100 Most Influential” lawyers in California and has been consistently recognized by his peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America in the area of Administrative and Regulatory Law, most recently in their 2019 publication.  The Los Angeles Business Journal has listed him repeatedly, including in 2018, as one of the “500 Most Influential People in Los Angeles.”  Mr. Levine is the President of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners, on the Advisory Board of the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California (Berkeley), and a Director of the Pacific Council on International Policy.  Mr. Levine has served as U.S. Chair of the U.S.-Israel-Palestinian “Anti-Incitement” committee established by the Wye Plantation peace agreement, as a Presidential appointee to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, as a U.S. government appointee to the U.S. – Israel Science and Technology Advisory Commission as President of the American Friends of the (Yitzhak) Rabin Center in Israel, and as Board Chair of the Los Angeles Police Foundation.

Mr. Levine’s Congressional committee assignments included the Committee on Foreign Affairs and its subcommittees on International Economic Policy and Trade, Europe and the Middle East, and Asia; the Committee on the Judiciary and its subcommittee on Intellectual Property; and the Committee on the Interior and Insular Affairs.  Mr. Levine was especially engaged in U.S. foreign policy involving international trade and Middle East policy.  He served as Chair of the House Task Force on Exports.  He also served as co-chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and chair of the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Latin America.  Mr. Levine founded and co-chaired Rebuild America, an educational foundation to improve American competitiveness by increasing support for high-technology industries, improving education and rebuilding infrastructure.  Between 1993 and 1997, Mr. Levine served, at the request of Vice President Gore, as co-President of Builders for Peace, the private sector effort to assist the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Levine received his law degree cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1969, a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University in 1966, and a bachelor’s degree cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley in 1964.

Mr. Levine is married to journalist Connie Bruck, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.  They have four children, Adam Levine, Jake Levine, Cara Levine and Ari Schlossberg.

Seleta Reynolds
General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
Biography

Seleta Reynolds

General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Transportation

Seleta Reynolds is General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) appointed by the Administration of Mayor Eric Garcetti.  Ms. Reynolds is responsible for implementing Great Streets for Los Angeles, a plan to reduce traffic fatalities, double the number of people riding bikes, and expand access to integrated transportation choices for Angelinos and the region.

Ms. Reynolds has over 18 years of transportation experience throughout the United States. She has advised transportation technology companies like WalkScore, contributed to the state-of-the-practice as an Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Board Member, mentored young professionals through Women’s Transportation Seminar, and nurtured research on Transportation Research Board committees.  Ms. Reynolds serves as the President of the National Association for City Transportation Officials.

The Department of Transportation leads transportation planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations within the City of Los Angeles. We work together and partner with other agencies to improve safe, accessible transportation services and infrastructure in the city and region.

Mark Pestrella
Director
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
Biography

Mark Pestrella

Director
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works

Mark Pestrella is the Director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Public  Works. In this capacity he also serves as the County Engineer, the County Road Commissioner, and the Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.  With an annual budget of more than $2.5 billion and a workforce of 4,000 employees, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works is the largest municipal public works agency in the United States, providing vital public infrastructure and civic services to more than 10 million people across a 4,000 square mile service area.

A native of Southern California, Mr. Pestrella attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where  he  received  a  Bachelor  of  Science  Degree  in  Civil  Engineering with concentrations  in structural engineering and water resource management.   He is a licensed civil engineer  in  the  State  of  California  and  has  taught  post-graduate  classes  in  Civil  Engineering and Land Development Entitlement at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mr.  Pestrella  is  a  30-year  veteran  of  the  Department  and  has  held  a  variety  of  management positions.   Mr. Pestrella  is  also  an  active  member  of  the  American  Public Works  Association, American  Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, Association of California Water  Agencies,  National  Association of  Flood  and  Stormwater Management Agencies  (Board Member), Southern California Water Committee, and Urban Water Institute (Board Member).

The Department designs, constructs, operates, and maintains roads,  highways, bridges, airports, sewers, and flood control and water conservation facilities, as  well as water distribution systems for the  County, the  Flood  Control  District, special  districts,  and  contract  cities.    In  addition,  the Department provides management services for capital  projects and serves as a first responder for disaster  preparedness,  response,  and  recovery.    The  Department  provides  leadership  in  the countywide  transportation  system,  traffic   mitigation  efforts,  and  solid  and   hazardous  waste management planning.

Phillip Washington
CEO
LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Biography

Phillip Washington

CEO
LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Phillip A. Washington, formerly of Denver’s Regional Transportation District, was unanimously selected CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) by the Metro Board of Directors on March 12, 2015. 

Washington came to Los Angeles at a time when Metro has five major rail, plus highway projects, under construction – together representing the largest modern public works program in the United States.

In his position as Metro CEO, Washington oversees an agency that transports 1.4 million boarding passengers on an average weekday, riding on a fleet of 2,000 clean-air buses and six rail lines. Metro also is the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County. As such, it is a major construction agency that oversees bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects. 

Washington came to Los Angeles from Denver, where he was Assistant General Manager for nearly ten years, prior to being named CEO in 2009.

In Denver, Washington implemented the FasTracks program, one of the largest voter-approved transit expansion programs in the country. He was responsible for a total agency budget appropriation of $2.8 billion and managed more than $5 billion in active transit expansion projects. Under his management, Denver’s West Line Rail was completed under budget and eight months earlier than scheduled and the award-winning Denver Union Station was completed five months ahead of schedule.

Also in Denver, Washington spearheaded implementation of the first-of-its-kind $2.2 billion transit Public-Private Partnership (P3). His emphasis on measuring and managing agency performance led the agency to a nearly 90 percent on-time bus and rail service and 96 percent ADA on-time performance. In 2012, Washington’s emphasis on safety training led to a 40 percent decrease in preventable bus accidents.

Originally from the south side of Chicago – the Chicago Housing Projectsof Altgeld Gardens – Washington is a 24-year veteran of the United States Army where he held the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commissioned officer rank an enlisted person can achieve. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Columbia College and an M.A. in Management from Webster University. He is current chair of the American Public Transportation Association.

Steve Westly
Founder and Managing Director
The Westly Group
Biography

Steve Westly

Founder and Managing Director
The Westly Group

Mr. Westly has a unique background.

He served on the faculty at Stanford’s Graduate School of business for five years.

He helped take eBay public in 1998 where he served as SVP of Marketing, Business Development, M&A and International.

In 2002, Mr. Westly was elected Controller and CFO of the State of California. He served on the boards of CalPERS and CalSTRS which invest more than $450 billion.

He founded the Westly Group in 2007, which is one of the larger smart energy and transportation venture firms in the US.  The firms has had four portfolio companies go public including Tesla Motors, where he sat on the Board of Trustees for 3 years.

Robyn Beavers
CEO
Blueprint Power
Biography

Robyn Beavers

CEO
Blueprint Power

Robyn Beavers started her career as an energy efficiency consultant and then moved on to become the founding member of Google’s Green Business & Operations strategy team. In this role she delivered several green strategic programs including the country's largest corporate solar installation at the time, energy efficiency retrofits for Google's global offices, employee incentive programs, and the creation of a large scale renewable energy investment program. While pursuing her MBA, Robyn served as a Fellow for the Department of Energy. In 2011, she joined Vestas Wind Systems where she created WindMade, a global NGO that issues the first global consumer label for brands and products made with wind energy. She then joined DEKA Research & Engineering to commercialize their various distributed water and power technologies. Her most recent corporate involvement has been as Sn VP for NRG Energy. She holds both a B.S. in Civil Engineering and an MBA from Stanford University.

Mike Wallace
Managing Director
BrownFlynn
Biography

Mike Wallace

Managing Director
BrownFlynn

As Managing Director, Mike is responsible for expanding BrownFlynn’s market penetration across North America, developing new and existing strategic partnerships, providing innovative corporate responsibility and sustainability solutions to clients and helping shape the strategic direction of the Firm. Having helped establish and then direct GRI’s North American operations from 2010 to 2014, Mike was instrumental in driving sustainability reporting across the North American economy.

Mike’s 20 years of international experience in the sustainability field provides BrownFlynn clients and business partners with a global view of the sustainability landscape. Having given expert testimony to the European Commission, U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and the General Services Administration, and having presented on the topic of sustainability and reporting at many of events, Mike’s expertise in the field is highly regarded and valued by a wide range of colleagues and organizations.

Bob Hertzberg
State Senator
California State Senate
Biography

Bob Hertzberg

State Senator
California State Senate

Robert "Bob" Hertzberg

Robert M. Hertzberg, twice unanimously elected Speaker of the California State Assembly, from 2000 – 2002, is now a State Senator, proudly serving nearly 1 million residents in the San Fernando Valley.  Bob serves on, among others: the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, the Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications, and the Committee on Natural Resources and Water, and continues to address the big challenges facing California.

Bob has been an active entrepreneur and leader in global policy on renewable energy.  The Guardian (UK) named him as one of the “50 People Who Could Save the Planet” and his former company won the “World Bank Award, for Lighting Africa,” for a project in Rwanda.

Bob has appeared on CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CNN, BBC, Nightline, and has been featured in articles in The Economist, Fortune Small Business, and Financial Times.  In addition, a solar company he was involved with in Los Angeles won the 2005 Wall Street Journal Innovation of the Year Award in the field of energy.

Bob has been to every VerdeExchange Conference & Expo since the beginning, including two in Toronto, Canada.  He’s thrilled to be back for #11!

Barbara Romero
Deputy Mayor of City Services
City of Los Angeles
Biography

Barbara Romero

Deputy Mayor of City Services
City of Los Angeles

Barbara Romero is the Deputy Mayor of City Services in the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti. She was appointed to this position in March 2015 after serving as a Board of Public Works Commissioner. 

Romero spent a decade working for the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, where she was Chief of Urban Projects and the Watershed Planning Division. As the liaison to local, state, and federal legislators on park planning issues, Romero handled legislative policies and project funding strategies, and managed millions of dollars for urban park projects. She also focused on identifying, developing and implementing multiple park development, restoration, and acquisition projects primarily in urban areas along the Upper Los Angeles River and tributaries.

She currently serves as a Board Member for the Valley Presbyterian Hospital and has previously served on the boards of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy the L.A. River Revitalization Corporation. In addition, she was a member of the Los Angeles Planning Commission and previously worked for the L.A. Conservation Corps and Building Up Los Angeles, where she led an AmeriCorps program to develop school and community gardens and mural projects with high school and college students in East L.A.

Romero grew up in the East L.A. community of Boyle Heights. She holds a B.A. from UCLA.

Rusty Hicks
President
LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Biography

Rusty Hicks

President
LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

Rusty Hicks is the President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. He is one of the youngest—and the first post-9/11 war veteran—to lead one of the nation’s largest labor federations. Raised by a single mother in Fort Worth, Texas, Rusty saw first-hand the challenges of attaining the American Dream. Her hard work inspired him to a life of service. He is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve and a veteran of the War in Afghanistan. Rusty is a member of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild – America Federation of Teachers Local 1521. He resides in Pasadena with his wife, Sandra Sanchez, and their dog Charlie.

Katherine Aguilar Perez
Associate Principal & Los Angeles Cities Leader
Arup
Biography

Katherine Aguilar Perez

Associate Principal & Los Angeles Cities Leader
Arup

Katharine Aguilar Perez is the Los Angeles Cities Leader and Associate Principal with Arup. She is an expert in urban planning, transportation, and stakeholder engagement. In the planning and land use field, she is highly regarded for developing complex public participation strategies that require collaboration among multi-cultural communities. With her background in community development, private real estate development, transportation policy and urban planning, she is recognized as a leader in the planning and development fields and speaks at conferences throughout the country.

Brian Jordan
Vice President
Tetra Tech
Biography

Brian Jordan

Vice President
Tetra Tech

Brian Jordan is a Vice President at Tetra Tech and currently focused on the firm’s smart water initiative. Mr. Jordan recently joined Tetra Tech from MWH Global where he was Director of Global Corporate Development. In this capacity, he was responsible for coordinating and leading a variety of the company’s growth efforts including strategic partnerships and mergers and acquisitions, as well as organic growth initiatives aligned with the company’s strategic plan.

Prior to MWH, Brian was a Senior Vice President at AECOM where he was the executive responsible for profit and loss, sales and marketing efforts, and oversight of strategy and operations for the firm’s water business in a region that extended from the Rocky Mountains to continental Asia. Brian has been active in professional associations throughout his career. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Water Works Association and been elected, nominated, or appointed to leadership and chair positions for a half-dozen different industry organizations. He is also an active author and public speaker having published or presented several dozen papers. A licensed professional engineer in California, Brian has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute, and completed graduate studies in the same field at Virginia Tech.

Adel Hagekhalil
Director
Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services
Biography

Adel Hagekhalil

Director
Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services

Adel Hagekhalil is a registered civil engineer with the State of California and a national Board Certified Environmental Engineer.  Adel is currently the Executive Director and General Manager with the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street Services where he is responsible for managing, maintaining and upgrading the City’s street network including streets, sidewalks, trees and bikeways with focus on safety, mobility and sustainability.  Under his direction, Adel will integrate green infrastructure and multi-benefit elements into the City’s street renewal efforts. Recently, Adel was the Assistant Director for the City’s Bureau of Sanitation where he was responsible for the Bureau’s wastewater collection system management, storm water and watershed protection program, water quality compliance, and facilities and advance planning.  Under his direction, the City has prepared an award winning 2040 One Water LA Plan “One Water” which relies on public input and participation and integrates water supply, water reuse, water conservation and storm water management with wastewater facilities planning through a regional watershed approach.  Adel served for 9 years as Board member and most recently President with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).  Adel is currently serving on NACWA’s co-Chair for the Arid States Water Reuse Group and member of the National Water Sector Coordinating Council.

Sara Neff
Senior Vice President, Sustainability
Kilroy Realty Corporation
Biography

Sara Neff

Senior Vice President, Sustainability
Kilroy Realty Corporation

Sara Neff is Senior Vice President, Sustainability at Kilroy Realty Corporation. In her first four years, Sara took Kilroy from having no sustainability program to being named the #1 office real estate company on sustainability in North America by GRESB, an honor they have now won for four straight years, and Kilroy is now only the third American real estate company to be listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. At Kilroy, she oversees all sustainability initiatives such as solar and battery dealmaking, the implementation of energy and water efficiency initiatives throughout the existing and development portfolios, the integration of sustainability standards into annual financial reports, the launch of the Kilroy Innovation Lab, and the award-winning green leasing program.

She holds a BS from Stanford and an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Michael George
Delta Watermaster
State of California
Biography

Michael George

Delta Watermaster
State of California

Michael Patrick George was appointed to a four-year term as Delta Watermaster beginning in January, 2015.  The position of Delta Watermaster was created by the 2009 Delta Reform legislation.  The Delta Watermaster is an independent officer of the State reporting jointly to the State Water Resources Control Board and the Delta Stewardship Council.  The Watermaster has statutory responsibility for administering water rights within the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta.  Additionally, the Delta Watermaster advises the Board and the Council on related water rights, water quality and water operations in and affecting the Delta, which is, simultaneously, a critical estuarine habitat, a vital agricultural area, and the hub of California’s water infrastructure.

Prior to starting his term, Mr. George was active in western water law and policy as a water lawyer, as the CEO of a publicly traded water resource management company, as a senior executive of an investor owned water company and as an investment banker serving both public and private entities in the water industry.  He is an honors graduate of The University of Notre Dame where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and of the Georgetown University Law Center where he was an editor of Law and Policy in International Business.  Mr. George has lectured on California water resource issues at the University of California San Diego, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley.  He is a member of the California Bar.

Jeff Kightlinger
General Manager
Metropolitan Water District
Biography

Jeff Kightlinger

General Manager
Metropolitan Water District

Jeffrey Kightlinger is general manager and chief executive officer for The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The Metropolitan Water District is the largest municipal water provider in the nation delivering an average of over 2 billion gallons of water a day to 19 million customers across Southern California.  Metropolitan serves one out of every two Californians in the six counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.

Kightlinger was appointed general manager in February 2006.    As general manager, he manages the District’s $1.8 billion annual budget and 1,800 employees to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of high quality water every day throughout Southern California.  He reports to a board of 37 members representing 26 member agencies.

Kightlinger has an undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Santa Clara University.  He serves on a number of boards including the Coro Foundation, the USC Price School of Public Policy, the UCLA Sustainability Advisory Board, the Climate Action Reserve, the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, the Los Angeles Economic Development Council and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Martin Adams
General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Biography

Martin Adams

General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Martin Adams is the General Manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). With more than 30 years of experience with LADWP, Mr. Adams has worked throughout the Water System and was directly involved with the planning and implementation of sweeping upgrades centered on the removal of open distribution reservoirs and changes in water treatment to meet new water quality regulations. Prior to his current appointment, he served as Chief Operating Officer at LADWP and spent ten years as the Director of Water Operations in charge of the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Los Angeles water delivery system, including the historical Los Angeles Aqueduct and other supply sources, pump stations, reservoirs, water treatment, and management of Water System properties. Mr. Adams is a life-long resident of the Los Angeles area, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Traci Minamide
Chief Operating Officer
City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation
Biography

Traci Minamide

Chief Operating Officer
City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation

Traci is the Chief Operating Officer for the City of Los Angeles, LA Sanitation, an organization of approximately 3,000 employees with annual revenue of nearly $1 billion.  In this capacity, she assists the Director by maintaining Bureau-wide oversight of operational activities in a program that consists of three core services: wastewater collection, treatment, and water recycling; solids resources; and watershed protection (stormwater).  Her main area of focus is in wastewater treatment, water recycling, and biosolids management where over 450 million gallons a day are collected and treated.

Traci has been with the LA Sanitation for over 25 years and has previously worked with the City’s Department of Water and Power and the Irvine Ranch Water District   serving in other capacities including water planning, industrial pretreatment, and environmental regulations.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, a Master of Science degree in environmental engineering from Loyola Marymount University and certification in Executive Management for State and Local Government from Harvard University.  She is also a licensed professional civil engineer in the State of California and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer.  Traci currently serves as a Board Director for the California Association of Sanitation Agencies and is a member of the State Water Resources Control Board Advisory Panel for Direct Potable Reuse. 

Zaib Shaikh
Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles
Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles
Biography

Zaib Shaikh

Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles
Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles
Jules Radcliff
Partner
Radcliff & Saiki LLP
Biography

Jules Radcliff

Partner
Radcliff & Saiki LLP
Panama Bartholomy
Director
Building Decarbonization Coalition
Biography

Panama Bartholomy

Director
Building Decarbonization Coalition

Forging partnerships among varying disciplines and stakeholders, Panama Bartholomy has managed and facilitated the creation and implementation of some of the largest climate and energy programs in the United States. Panama’s work focuses on finding policy and program solutions for communities facing energy efficiency, renewable energy, land use and climate change challenges. Panama combines frontline experience with state and local government policy and has dealt extensively in the regulatory and utility arenas.  

Previously, Panama was the Advisor on Energy and Natural Resources to California Assembly Speaker John A. Perez where he oversaw the State of California’s energy and environmental legislation and budget. He earlier served as Deputy Director of the California Energy Commission’s Efficiency and Renewables Division and advisor for Chairmen Douglas and Pfannenstiel, worked for the California Conservation Corps on vocational environmental education, and ran the Sustainable Schools program for the Division of the State Architect. Panama served on the City of Sacramento Planning Commission and the County of Sacramento Environmental Commission, and is a former board member on the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and past president of the Northern California Chapter of the USGBC.

Mark Gold
Associate Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability
UCLA
Biography

Mark Gold

Associate Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability
UCLA

Mark is the UCLA Associate Vice-Chancellor for Environment and Sustainability and was recently the Acting Director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.  In his current position, he works to increase interdisciplinary environmental research, and he is leading UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge - with goals of achieving 100% local water supply and 100% renewable energy in Los Angeles County while enhancing biodiversity and human health and wellbeing by 2050. He worked with 28 faculty to develop the Sustainable LA workplan, and there are over 200 faculty that are part of the Sustainable LA research team.  Also, he was the long-time President of the environmental group, Heal the Bay. Mark received his Bachelors and Masters in Biology and his doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from UCLA.  He has worked extensively over the last 30 years in the field of coastal protection, water management, and urban sustainability; he created Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card for the west coast of the U.S., and he has helped write numerous water quality, coastal protection, urban sustainability and environmental education laws and policies. He recently led a research effort on sustainable water management in the city of Los Angeles. Previous research focused on beach water quality and the health risks of swimming at polluted beaches. Currently, he is a member of the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors for the city of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti’s Water Cabinet. Also, he serves on the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) – Citizens Oversight Board.

Lauren Faber O'Connor
Chief Sustainability Officer
City of Los Angeles
Biography

Lauren Faber O'Connor

Chief Sustainability Officer
City of Los Angeles

Lauren Faber O'Connor is the Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Los Angeles. In her role as Deputy CSO she drove the implementation of the Sustainable City pLAn, released in April 2015, which puts forth an actionable vision for transforming LA's environment, economy and equity. Working across every city department, Lauren focuses on strategic integration of the pLAn's pillars in order to reach the City's ambitious climate and clean energy goals, ensure benefits accrue to all communities in LA, and pursue regional and international collaborations. Prior to joining the Garcetti Administration, Lauren served for four years as the West Coast Political Director for the Environmental Defense Fund in San Francisco. At EDF she worked on building successful strategies and constructive partnerships to win support on innovative approaches to protecting and promoting climate, clean energy, land, water and wildlife. In 2010 Lauren was appointed to Assistant Secretary for Climate Change Programs at the California Environmental Protection Agency, where she was dedicated to the design and implementation of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act. Prior to her work at CalEPA, Lauren served as senior director for Lighthouse Consulting Group in Washington, D.C., where she advised on comprehensive national climate change and energy strategies for domestic and international companies, and non-government organizations, and in particular, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. From 2005-2009 Lauren served at the British Embassy as the Senior Policy Advisor for climate change and energy.

Lauren sits on the Board of the California League of Conservation Voters, is a member of the Catto Fellowship for environmental leadership at the Aspen Institute, and a member of the Truman National Security Project Political Partnership. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Systems and Economics from Stanford University, and Master’s degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Abigale Abel
Affiliate
CityFi
Biography

Abigale Abel

Affiliate
CityFi

Abigale (Abby) Abel is an Affiliate with Cityfi and has worked most recently on standing-up the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, a statewide platform designed to accelerate the adoption of innovative technology and practices to enhance the quality of life for all Coloradans. 

Prior to joining Cityfi, Abby led commercial partnerships for GE Ecomagination, a cross-GE platform to identify, test and deploy new technology and commercial solutions to environmental challenges.  As part of this work, Abby catalyzed a smart city partnership with LStar Ventures, a private real estate developer leading the build-out of Union Point in Massachusetts.  Abby also served as the Chief Marketing Officer for GE’s Renewable Energy business, leading market analysis and strategic planning for GE’s global renewables business.

Abby’s strengths are applying clear thinking, creative problem solving and a collaborative leadership style to uncover and deliver on unique market opportunities.  She’s passionate about linking innovation to industry in support of cleaner, more equitable and resilient communities. 

Abby holds a Master of Business and Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan.  She lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children.

Doane Liu
Executive Director
Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development
Biography

Doane Liu

Executive Director
Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development

In March 2017, Doane Liu was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development (CTD), with the goal to further enhance and increase Los Angeles’ prominence and attraction as a world class tourist and convention destination. 

Liu joined the CTD after serving as Deputy Executive Director and Chief of Staff at the Port of Los Angeles, where he was the second in command at the busiest container port in North America and head of the Port’s External Affairs Bureau.

Before the Port, Liu was Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles. He managed the Mayor's Office of City Services and helped the Mayor oversee 15 City Departments, including the Los Angeles Department Water and Power, Public Works, Transportation, Recreation and Parks, Public Library, and LA Zoo. He also established the Great Streets Studio and LA RiverWorks in the Mayor’s Office. A first-generation Korean-American, Liu also was a liaison in the Mayor’s Office to the Korean-American community in Los Angeles.

Liu was previously Chief of Staff for Councilman Joe Buscaino and served as Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Deputy Mayor for Mayor James K. Hahn and District Director for Congresswoman Jane Harman. He was also Senior Vice President of Government Banking at JP Morgan Chase and Vice President in the Real Estate Industries Group at Security Pacific National Bank.

Liu currently serves on the boards of AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Fleet Week Foundation, and Sister Cities of Los Angeles. He has previously served on the boards of the LA24 Olympic Bid Committee, LA County Business Federation, Harbor Interfaith Shelter, Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Mary Star of the Sea High School, and Holy Trinity School.

Liu graduated from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and received an MBA from University of Southern California. He and his wife have four grown children and have lived in San Pedro for nearly 30 years.

Felicia Marcus
Chair
California State Water Resources Control Board
Biography

Felicia Marcus

Chair
California State Water Resources Control Board

Felicia Marcus was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) for the State of California in 2012, and designated by the Governor as Chair in April of 2013.  The Board is responsible for both water quality and water rights issues in the state and is currently focusing on issues ranging from setting water quality objectives for the San Francisco Bay and Delta; to general permits for stormwater pollution control; to reviewing irrigated lands permits to control agricultural drainage.  The Board sets statewide policy, settles water rights disagreements, and hears appeals of local regional board water quality decisions. 

Before her appointment to the Water Board, she was the Western Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a national environmental leader in bringing science, law, and policy expertise to solving our world’s pressing environmental and conservation challenges. Prior to joining NRDC, Felicia was the Executive VP/COO of the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit devoted to conserving land for people. Before coming to TPL, Felicia served as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. EPA Region IX in the Clinton Administration where she was known for her work in bringing unlikely allies together for environmental progress and for making the agency more responsive to the communities it serves, particularly Indian Tribes, communities of color, local government, and agricultural and business interests. While at USEPA, Felicia worked extensively on the range of environmental issues under EPA’s jurisdiction, most heavily in air quality, Bay-Delta water, tribal, and US-Mexico border issues. Prior to that, Felicia headed Los Angeles’ Department of Public Works at a time when the City went from garnering lawsuits to garnering national awards for environmental excellence. Felicia came to Public Works after extensive experience as a public interest lawyer and community organizer in Los Angeles.

She currently serves or has served in the past on many non-profit boards and Advisory Councils including the Public Policy Institute of California Statewide Leadership Council, Sustainable Conservation, USC-Kesten Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, and the Center for Diversity and the Environment. She is also currently an Obama Administration appointee to the Commission on Environmental Cooperation-Joint Public Advisory Council (US, Mexico, Canada) and was a Schwarzenegger Administration appointee to the Delta Stewardship Council prior to being appointed to the Water Board.

Russell Fortmeyer
Sustainability Leader
Arup
Biography

Russell Fortmeyer

Sustainability Leader
Arup

Russell leads sustainability for Arup’s Los Angeles office.  Russell’s work for public and private sector clients includes high-performance buildings, infrastructure master planning, sustainability policy, and resilience. Trained as both an Engineer and an Architect, Russell takes a research-based approach to developing new concepts for clients to tackle the increasingly complex and inter-connected environmental realm to address issues like climate change, resilience, resource scarcity, and social equity in the context of creating healthy and efficient buildings and cities. Over the past year, Russell Fortmeyer was the Technical Chair for the USGBC working closely with Heather Rosenberg on the Building Resilience Framework for Los Angeles that was launched at Greenbuild 2016 conference in September.

As an author and former editor with Architectural Record, his skills in communication allow him to connect with clients and stakeholders to identify innovative solutions to in passive design, smart cities, energy and water efficiency, and new technologies. He lectures widely on resiliency and sustainability topics and has been on the applied studies faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture since 2011. His book, Kinetic Architecture, which gauges the emerging field of dynamic facades, was published in 2014.

John Withers
Board of Directors Member
Irvine Ranch Water District
Biography

John Withers

Board of Directors Member
Irvine Ranch Water District

John Withers applies his extensive background in project management, land development, real estate asset enhancement, water resource management and local government to find solutions to challenging regulatory, resource and development issues.

John Withers brings to California Strategies more than 28 years of results-oriented experience in water resources and regulation; real estate development, entitlement and asset protection, and government relations.  He is able to find pathways to solutions that others miss because he has worked on all sides of the issues, attacking problems as an applicant, an elected official, a regulator and a consultant.

Since joining California Strategies, Withers has:

  • Worked with developers of large master-planned communities, including Lennar, Lewis Operating Corp, DMB and Suncal, to solve complex issues
  • Helped leading merchant builders and REITS, including William Lyon Homes, Centex, Shea, Sares Regis and Western National Properties, strategically reposition assets in a challenging  marketplace
  • Assisted public agencies such as the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District, Inland Empire Utility Agency, Palmdale Water District, the City of Chino, the City of Desert Hot Springs and others accomplish key goals
  • Guided companies such as Fluor, RBF, HDR, Turner Construction and others wishing to do business with government understand the context and intricacies of that process.

Withers spent more than 10 years as a director for Psomas and Associates, a leading civil engineering firm, where he helped establish a successful water resources practice that grew to 22 employees, generating annual revenue of $2.4 million.  Withers also has served in a variety of development and policy assignments including Director of Governmental Affairs for the Orange County chapter of the California Building Industry Association and as a Legislative Advocate in Sacramento for the statewide chapter.

Recognizing his management and regulatory expertise, Lewis Operating Corporation, one of the nation's premier land development and real estate investment firms, hired him as Vice President, responsible for the entitlement and development of a 9,000-unit master-planned community in the Chino agriculture preserve.

California Strategies clients also benefit from the government relations insights Withers has gained from his numerous elected and appointed government positions.  He has served for over 20 years as an elected director (and former Board President) of the Irvine Ranch Water District, for 17 years as a commissioner (and former Chairman) of the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), and as a governor's appointed board member (and former Chairman) of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.  He is especially proud to have been appointed to the Water Quality Control Board by both Republican Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Governor Gray Davis.

His expertise in water issues has been recognized by the National Water Research Institute,and the Urban Water Institute, which have invited him to serve on their Boards of Directors.  He also serves on the statewide AB331 Blue Ribbon Committee that is working to remove obstacles to expand the use of recycled water.

A native Southern Californian, Withers attended Los Angeles city schools and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and urban studies from UCLA. He was one of the few selected to be a Coro Foundation fellow and earned a Master of Arts degree in urban studies from Occidental College.