Take part in this one-of-a-kind event featuring powerful thought leaders and keynotes.
USGBC Live delivers inspirational moments each day. View the agenda.
Assistant Professor, UCLA; Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, SkyCool Systems
Aaswath Raman is Assistant Professor with the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UCLA. He is also Co-Founder and Chief Scientist of SkyCool Systems. Aaswath is known for his pioneering work in developing daytime radiative cooling into a nascent passive cooling approach for the built environment by harnessing new optical material-based approaches. Aaswath received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 2013, and his A.B. in Physics and Astronomy, and M.S. in Computer Science from Harvard University in 2006. He is the recipient of the SPIE Green Photonics Award (2011), the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 (TR35) Award (2015), the Materials Research Society Nelson Robinson Award for Renewable Energy (2018), the Sloan Research Fellowship (2019), the Hellman Fellows Award (2020). His TED talk on radiative cooling, delivered at TED 2018, has been viewed over 2 million times.Close
Organizational Psychologist, The Wharton School of Business; Bestselling Author; Host: WorkLife, a TED Original Podcast
Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years. As an organizational psychologist, he studies how we can find motivation and meaning, and lead more generous and creative lives. He has been recognized as one of the world's 10 most influential management thinkers, Fortune's 40 under 40, and Oprah’s Super Soul 100.
He is the author of multiple #1 New York Times best-selling books that have sold over millions of copies and been translated into 35 languages: Give and Take, Originals, Option B, and Power Moves. His books have been named among the year’s best by Amazon, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Wall Street Journal and praised by J.J. Abrams, Richard Branson, Bill and Melinda Gates, Malcolm Gladwell, and Malala Yousafzai. His new book is THINK AGAIN: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, launched in February 2021.
Grant's TED talks on original thinkers and givers and takers have been viewed more than 25 million times. He received a standing ovation at TED in 2016 and was voted the audience's favorite speaker at The Nantucket Project. His speaking and consulting clients include Google, the NBA, the Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, where he has been honored as a Young Global Leader. He hosts "WorkLife", a chart-topping TED original podcast; writes on work and psychology for The New York Times; and serves on the Defense Innovation Board at the Pentagon. He has over 3 million followers on social media and shares monthly insights in his newsletter, GRANTED.
Grant was profiled in The New York Times Magazine cover story, "Is giving the secret to getting ahead?" He was tenured at Wharton while still in his twenties, and has received the Excellence in Teaching Award for every class that he has taught. He is the founder and host of the Authors@Wharton speaker series, and co-director of Wharton People Analytics. He curates the Next Big Idea Club along with Susan Cain, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dan Pink, handpicking two new books each quarter for subscribers and donating 100% of profits to provide books for children in under-resourced communities. He is also the cofounder of Givitas, a knowledge collaboration platform that makes it easy to give and receive help in five minutes a day, and an angel investor in startups in HR and culture, technology, and consumer products.
Grant earned his Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, completing it in less than three years, and his B.A. from Harvard University, magna cum laude with highest honors and Phi Beta Kappa honors. He has received awards for distinguished scholarly achievement from the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation. His pioneering research has increased performance and reduced burnout among engineers and sales professionals, enhanced call center productivity, and motivated safety behaviors among doctors, nurses and lifeguards. He is a former magician and Junior Olympic springboard diver, and lives in Philadelphia with his wife, two daughters, and son.Close
Author and New York Times Columnist
David Brooks has a gift for bringing audiences face to face with the spirit of our times with humor, insight and quiet passion. He is a keen observer of the American way of life and a savvy analyst of present-day politics, culture and foreign affairs. For audiences in all areas of healthcare, David brings important insights into the politics of healthcare and a focus on character as the key to our healthcare debates, healthcare delivery, and mission-driven leadership. As a commentator, David Brooks holds prestigious positions as a bi-weekly Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times and as a regular analyst on PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered.
David's New York Times bestseller, The Road to Character, “explains why selflessness leads to greater success.” He tells the story of ten great lives that illustrate how character is developed, and how we can all strive to build rich inner lives, marked by humility and moral depth. In a society that emphasizes success and external achievement, The Road to Character is a book about inner worth.
In his most recent book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (Random House), David explores the four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community.
His previous books, The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens, uses the story of a fictional American couple to explain the importance of neuroscience and sociology in understanding America's politics, culture, and future. His other books, Bobos in Paradise and On Paradise Drive are in a style he calls "comic sociology" — descriptions of how we live and "the water we swim in" that are as witty and entertaining as they are revealing and insightful. Bobos in Paradise was a New York Times bestseller.
David is currently teaching a course at Yale University. He holds honorary degrees from Williams College, New York University, Brandeis University, Occidental College, among others. In 2010, Brooks became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
David Brooks has worked at The Weekly Standard, joining the magazine at its inception and serving as senior editor. He has been a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for nine years in a range of positions, including op-ed editor.
- Jackson Senior Fellow, Yale University
- Op-Ed Columnist, the New York Times
- Weekly political commentator, PBS NewsHour
- Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Regular commentator on NPR
- Former writer, editor or columnist for Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, The Weekly Standard, and other major print media
Deeohn Ferris, JD
President, Institute for Sustainable Communities
Deeohn Ferris, JD, is the first African American woman to be named President of a US-based international climate change and sustainability organization. She leads the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a global capacity builder and technical assistance provider whose objectives are facilitating community and local leadership in decision making and investments, embedding racial, economic and social equity in environmental and climate change solutions, and forging public-private partnerships. She is an environmental and racial justice practitioner and systems change expert whose experience is rooted in meeting the needs of people of color, under-represented communities, and the institutions and stakeholders that are closest to the issues.
Deeohn is an environmental lawyer whose interdisciplinary career intersects government, industry, the public interest, and human and civil rights. Her experience in defining and leading initiatives that prioritize under-served population groups is reinforced by her business perspective and foundational knowledge of nonprofit operations and strategy. She possesses a wealth of acumen championing fairness, equity and justice with appointed and elected officials, executives, philanthropists, and academicians.
Deeohn’s environmental legal knowledge and policy expertise were instrumental to establishing and growing the worldwide renown of the environmental justice field. She was on the forefront, working with Congress to convene the first-ever House and Senate hearings, delivering testimony, and representing grassroots communities before the public, the media, federal agencies, and the United Nations. She facilitated the innovative national campaign during the Clinton Administration that resulted in the environmental justice call-to-action, Presidential Executive Order 12898. She broke new ground advocating novel analysis and strategies, coordinating with the White House, the Domestic Policy Council, and prominent stakeholder groups and associations.
Deeohn has launched and led equity centered initiatives and programs, combining local impact and national reach, for communities, networks, partnerships and agencies, and for mayors, legislators, foundations, and nonprofits. Her interdisciplinary background includes leadership roles with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the American Insurance Association, the National Wildlife Federation, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Washington Office on Environmental Justice, and the National Audubon Society. She is also formerly the CEO of Sustainable Community Development Group, a boutique woman-owned consulting firm.
Deeohn has extraordinary experience working with civil society, communities of color, Tribes and indigenous peoples, faith based organizations, and governments on five continents, lecturing and working in China, Turkey, South Africa, Nepal, India, Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil, Fiji, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, throughout the U.S. and North America. She has trained judges and lawyers in Southeast Asia, and counseled NGOs engaged in the World Social Forum and United Nations conferences around the globe. She is a nationally recognized provider of technical savvy that tackles integrating racial equity, sustainability and the engagement of under-represented, often culturally stratified populations. A popular speaker, she is the recipient of many achievement awards. Her public service includes numerous federal committees and boards.Close
Vice President Social Impact, Sustainability, Diversity Equity & Inclusion
Working with more than 50,000 team members at 50 domestic and international resorts, Gwen sets the strategy and drives the management plan for Caesars Entertainment’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives including sustainability, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Responsible Gaming and community affairs.
Gwen leads the industry in assessing macro trends and issues that may affect the business and development goals. She is on the forefront of utilizing customer data and spending behavior to show that strong CSR programs deliver purpose and a positive financial outcome. Her work involves human rights, social impact, Environmental Social Governance (ESG), investor research issues and outcomes based on the corporate responsibility strategy.
Gwen is currently the DEI Committee Chair for Sustainable Brands Advisory Board and on the Executive Committee of Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. She and her wife Cuc Vu enjoy parenting their budding social justice advocates: Max (7) and Ava (5) in their pseudo spare time.Close
President and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council and Green Business Certification Inc.
Mahesh Ramanujam believes that everyone deserves to benefit from better buildings. As president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI) and Arc, Ramanujam unifies green building standards and ensures an equitable future where public health and a healthy economy are complementary, not competitive values.
A graduate from India’s Annamalai University with a degree in Computer Engineering, Ramanujam couples an extensive background in technology and innovation with his goal of democratizing sustainable living and building healthier, more prosperous communities and cities across the world.
Prior to becoming President and CEO of USGBC, Ramanujam served as both the organization’s COO and CIO. Before joining GBCI in 2009, he led a succession of groundbreaking business transformation programs for both IBM and Lenovo.
Transformative initiatives and partnerships remain at the heart of Ramanujam’s work today. In addition to serving on Bank of America’s National Community Advisory Council, in 2018, he conceived an ideological bridge between USGBC’s first and second generation. Appropriately titled Living Standard, the campaign is designed to focus the organization’s efforts on what matters most about buildings — the people inside them. While originally an educational storytelling series on the benefits of green building, Living Standard is now USGBC’s pivotal grassroots initiative, a galvanizing and inspiring tool to share best practices and support the organization’s ambitious, inclusive, and resilient vision for the decades ahead: Healthy people in healthy places equals a healthy economy.
A leader of more than 13 million green builders, including hundreds of USGBC employees, and thousands of tireless volunteers, Ramanujam’s unorthodox approach to green building is that it must ultimately be about reimagining how we treat each other. He envisions a world where construction is as much about compassion as it is about the convenience and efficiency of the structures themselves.
Ramanujam’s storied career is rooted in his passion for that vision, in his efforts to evolve society beyond a passing awareness of green building to a universal adoption of its high-minded practices, and in his sincere desire that healthier building becomes not only an urgent civic responsibility, but a guarantee of a better quality of life for generations to come.Close
Dr. Monica Araya
Clean Mobility Advocate, Adviser, Decarbonization Strategist
Dr. Monica Araya
Dr. Monica Araya joined the global group Climate Champions team to lead the transport campaigns seeking to accelerate the uptake of zero-emissions mobility--working alongside the High-Level Climate Action Champions. She has lived and worked in Latin America, Europe and the US, engaging leaders in government, business, philanthropies to advocate and guide decarbonization strategies. This means creating and supporting coalitions of diverse stakeholders guided by a shared vision.
Her experience includes working with early adopters of electric mobility as well as climate activists, utilities, car dealers, automakers, charging infrastructure providers, and lawmakers. She is a member of several steering committees, including the 2050 Pathways Platform. In 2019, she was named ‘Crusader of the Year’ for her role advancing electric mobility in Costa Rica. BMW and TED appointed her as mentor to “Next Visionaries,” an initiative exploring the future of mobility. She frequently gives talks on decarbonization leadership, such as her global TED talks from 2016 and 2020 with over 2 million views. Monica holds a Master's degree in Economics from Costa Rica’s National University and a Ph.D. in Environmental Management from Yale University. She was selected to the first all-female expedition to Antarctica, where she reaffirmed her commitment to advance climate solutions. She currently lives in Amsterdam.Close
Co-Founder and Co-Chair, IMAGINE
Paul Polman is Co-Founder and Co-chair of IMAGINE, a social venture which mobilises business leaders around tackling climate change and global inequality. He is also Chair of The B Team, Saïd Business School and The Valuable 500, as well as Honorary Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce and World Business Council for Sustainable Development and Vice-Chair of the UN Global Compact. A leading proponent that business can – and should be – a force for good, he has been described by the Financial Times as “a standout CEO of the past decade”. As CEO of Unilever for ten years, he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder business model goes hand-in-hand with excellent financial performance. He was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel that developed the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and he continues to be an SDG Advocate who works across industries to deliver the 2030 development agenda.Close
Dr. Tara Shine
Irish environmental scientist, policy advisor and science communicator
Dr. Tara Shine
Dr. Tara Shine is an Irish environmental scientist, policy advisor and science communicator. She is Director of Change by Degrees, an award winning sustainability business that advises organisations on sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement and communications. She is co facilitator of a science policy dialogue in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and author of the book, How to Save Your Planet One Object at A Time.Close
Founder and CEO, TerraCycle
Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in collection and repurposing of complex waste streams. TerraCycle operates in 20 countries, working with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration.
Through TerraCycle, Tom creates circular solutions for hundreds of difficult waste streams such as cigarette butts, dirty diapers and used chewing gum. TerraCycle operates the largest supply chain for ocean plastic in the world, partnering with companies to integrate this material into their packaging.
In May 2019 TerraCycle launched Loop, a circular reuse platform that enables consumers to purchase products in durable, reusable packaging. Loop is available in Paris, France, Canada, the UK and the 48 contiguous U.S. states, and is a key step in helping to end the epidemic of waste that is caused by 'single- use' consumption. In 2021, Loop will become available in Japan and Australia.
Tom and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and recognition from a range of organizations including the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Fortune and Time Magazines, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Tom is the author of four books, “Revolution in a Bottle,” “Outsmart Waste,” “Make Garbage Great” and “The Future of Packaging” and created, produced and starred in TerraCycle’s reality show, “Human Resources” which aired from 2014-2016 and is syndicated in more than 20 foreign markets on Amazon and iTunes.Close
Climate Justice Activist
Vic Barrett is fighting hard for a future for all of us. Barrett witnessed the reality of climate change firsthand, as he was among the many impacted by the climate change fueled superstorm Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which left his family and school without power.
Barrett became involved in activism in high school as a member of Global Kids, an organization that focuses on developing leadership skills for youth. Barrett then became a Fellow with the Alliance for Climate Education and spoke at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris in 2015, at the age of 15. Barrett was among 400,000 participants in the People’s Climate March in NYC and delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in support of sustainable development goals.
With all of these achievements under his belt before age 18, Barrett has his eyes set on his biggest target to date: The federal government. Barrett is one of 21 youth activists between the ages of 10 and 21 suing the government to take action on climate change in Juliana Vs. United States. The lawsuit states that the government has violated youth rights by allowing activities harmful to the climate and asks the federal government to enact progressive changes to current carbon dioxide emissions. Barrett understands that his generation will be impacted by the policies and decisions of older generations refusing to combat climate change, and that we must make meaningful changes towards a sustainable environment. Most recently Vic spoke at the NYC Climate Strike and told a crowd of at least 100,000 why climate justice needs to be highlighted, centering black, brown, and indigenous voices.
Vic has spoken at the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, the United Nations, Friends Seminary, Yale University, Boston College, University of Wisconsin, Madison, on the Generator Series w/ Ilana Glazer, as well as keynoting at the Wired25 and Planet Home conferences in San Francisco. He has also presented before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C.Close