Session Details

Session 1 — Who Do We Think We Are?
Tuesday, December 10 (1:30pm - 2:45pm)

Session Host:

  • Diedre Schwartz – Director, Design + Sustainability, American Hotel Register

We kick off this track with a discussion of our roles, sectors, responsibilities, and structure to create a unified vision of our diversity and the lens from which we operate and view our world. This session is meant to examine the existing academic training, and credentialing, and discuss what the model should look like in the short- and long-term.

Key Questions:

  • What are the key characteristics that stretch across all or most climate change and sustainability professionals?

  • What are the critical proficiencies that elevate our stature and our ability to impact strategic planning?


Session 2 — The Evolving Role of Climate Change & Sustainability Professionals
Tuesday, December 10 (3:00pm - 4:15pm)

Session Hosts:

  • Deb Friedel – Director of Sustainability, Delaware North Corp

  • Jonathan Koehn – Regional Sustainability Coordinator, City of Boulder (Colorado)

This session will explore the macro-trends shaping the climate change and sustainability professions, and will identify the key skills necessary for its leaders in the years to come. Our professionals often perform specialized functions, but increasingly must understand the interconnected nature of all parts of an organization.

Key Questions:

  • As climate change and sustainability become embedded across departments, how will the practitioner’s role will shift to one of a comprehensive and strategic thinker and significant influencer?

  • If this requires a wider skill set and knowledge base than many current professionals have, what must we do to ensure our field comprises professionals with the appropriate competencies and leadership skills needed for success?


Session 3 — Embodying the Elements of Elevated Stature
Tuesday, December 10 (4:30pm - 5:45pm)

Session Hosts:

  • Trisha Bauman – CEO & Founder, TJBauman

  • Ann Erhardt – Chief Sustainability Officer for MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, Michigan State University (Board Chair of AASHE)

Every professional brings high-level strategic value to their organization. Studies and peer research reveal the following are true: Implicit to the capabilities of our professions are attributes such as mid- and long-term scenario planning, adaptive strategic analysis, process-oriented systemic problem-solving, and agile leadership. These strengths are continuously honed due to the volatile, high-stakes nature of the issues that we address and solve.

Key Questions:

  • How do we ensure that our strategic value is recognized and fully engaged by executive leadership and elected officials?

  • What are the most effective ways for owning and promoting high-level strategic value to employers?

  • How can we make that value understood by the right decision-makers?


Session 4 — Envisioning Sustainable Organizations & Sustainable Development
Wednesday, December 11 (8:45am - 10:15am)

Session Host:

  • Sarah Dehler – Communications & Sustainability Specialist, Siemens

Let’s envision a future state in the private sector, higher education, school boards, government agencies and infrastructure organizations in which climate change and sustainability professionals are truly empowered. From this future state, groups will work backward to identify the

Key Questions:

  • What are the keys for the successful development of change networks and what barriers need to be overcome?

  • What are the core practitioner leadership competencies required for successful action planning and execution and are they applicable to different organization types?


Session 5 — Advancing Our Professions
Wednesday, December 11 (10:45am - 12:15pm)

Session Host:

  • Diedre Schwartz – Director, Design + Sustainability, American Hotel Register

Bringing together the outcomes of discussions from sessions 1-4, we will now work together to begin developing a cohesive, coherent, and recognizable plan for our professions.

Key Questions:

  • Should our profession(s) have a NAICS code(s) and should there be licensure and certification by government?

  • How do we best achieve and retain a high level of professionalism and credibility?

  • How can we best ensure that professionals are staying informed of the latest developments around the globe?