Rob Watson, Chair
CEO, The ECON Group; Founder of LEED
Rob Watson is one of the pioneers of the modern Green Building Movement. An international leader in market transformation and green buildings, Watson is known as the “Founding Father of LEED” and was its Founding Chairman through 2006. Under Rob’s direction, LEED became the largest and fastest-growing international standard by which green buildings are measured. Author Thomas Friedman calls Rob "one of the best environmental minds in America." Watson is at the forefront of technical innovation in green buildings and energy efficiency, serving as Chairman and President for PrimaFilm LLC, which has created the only thermally insulating window film that will reduce energy losses through windows by over 50%. Watson is also the Chief Strategy Officer of EcoHub Inc. where he is implementing a zero waste strategy for municipal solid waste. In 2007, he launched ECON Group and EcoTech International to provide green building services and technologies that optimize lifecycle profitability, and implement cutting edge LEED projects, in the US and overseas. A Senior Scientist with the NRDC for 21 years, Rob directed the International Energy and Green Building programs and worked extensively on five continents improving the environmental performance of buildings, utilities and transportation.
Among numerous international awards for his work, he is the 2013 recipient of the International Conservation Award from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. In 2011, he was a semi-finalist in the international Zayed Energy Future Award for Lifetime Achievement and was profiled on CNN International. Watson is the only foreigner honored for Green Building Innovation by the Chinese Ministry of Construction and received the first lifetime achievement award from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2002. His work on green buildings and related technology has been featured in numerous publications. Mr. Watson is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has an MBA from Columbia University and a MSc from UC Berkeley.
Sarah Beatty Buller
Founder, The Green Depot
Sarah Beatty founded Green Depot in 2005 with a mission: to make green living and building solutions accessible, affordable and gratifying. With locations across the U.S., Green Depot is a leading supplier of sustainable building products and services to clients that include: Harvard University, the New School, Albany Public Libraries, the City of Chicago, and the Capitol Building in Washington. Green Depot educates the building trade and consumers every day about "what green means" through its products as well as through community programs and events. Earth Day New York and the NRDC awarded Sarah their 2009 Business Leader of the Year award. Prior to Green Depot, Sarah worked in media and marketing. She spent ten years at MTV, where she was Vice President of Trade Marketing and Global Branding. A LEED Accredited Professional, Sarah has a B.A. from Harvard College and is the mother of three children.
Director of Sustainability, The Town School
Ken Higgins is the Dean of Students, Chair of the Music Department, and Director of Sustainability at The Town School in NYC. As a founding member of the Green Schools Alliance in 2007 and Trustee, he coordinates service and education programs that address climate and sustainability. He has been an environmental activist since middle school when he organized a town-wide clean up and tree planting in celebration of the very first Earth Day. Today, Ken is also the Co-founder and Coordinator of the New York City Sustainability Educators Group, an organization committed to educating students for a sustainable future, sharing best practices, resources, curriculum, and strategizing to impact community and civic action. In 2011, he was selected to participate in the Fulbright Japan Educators for Sustainable Development program. His song "Rise Up,” dedicated to the victims of the Fukishima Earthquake and Nuclear disaster, was recorded by a dozen Japanese and American choruses.
Environmental Director, School District of Philadelphia, PA
Francine Locke is the Environmental Director for the School District of Philadelphia. She is responsible for designing and implementing programs that support healthy, green school environments in Philadelphia's large, urban public school district with nearly 300 buildings and an average building age of 70 years. The District serves 140,000 diverse students, 17,000 employees and maintains 23 million square feet of building space and 1,300 acres of land. Francine's work includes a nationally recognized Indoor Environmental Quality Program (US EPA IAQ Champion School District) and an Asthma Management Program. In 2016, Francine was joined by the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, in the release of the School District of Philadelphia's first sustainability plan, GreenFutures. The plan received the 2016 SustainPHL Award for Sustainable Communities. Francine is on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Asthma Control Program's Pennsylvania Asthma Partnership and is a member of the Climate Change and Health Effects Advisory Group for the Public Health Preparedness Program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Francine has a Masters Degree in Environmental Health from Temple University.
Veronique Choa Pittman
Activist, Social-Capitalist, and Cross Pollinator
Veronique C. Pittman is an Advisory Board Member of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, and Board member of The Rainforest Foundation, Global Goods Partners, Bedford2020, and LessCancer. She also serves on Audubon's Rachel Carson Awards Council. She is a community organizer and activist in the areas of indigenous rights, biodiversity conservation, green solutions, waste & recycling, women's reproductive health, and participatory art. A web designer by profession, she is also a writer, mountaineer and professional cook. She graduated with a BS in Cultural Anthropology from University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Mark Sorensen
Head of School, The STAR School, AZ
Mark W. Sorensen has been an educational leader of schools serving Navajo students for forty years. His work as Principal, Superintendent, Advisor and Mentor of indigenous schools has focused on improving the quality of Native American and Native Hawaiian education by developing place-based, full service, culturally relevant and ecologically sensitive schools. He has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and is currently the co-founder, Governing Board President, and CEO of The STAR (Service To All Relations) School, the first off-grid solar and wind powered public elementary school in the U.S.
As a trainer, author, and speaker on place-based education, Dr. Sorensen has helped to develop and encourage green schools in indigenous communities across the United States. For the past 15 years, he has worked with 11 Native Hawaiian charter schools as well as a number of Native American tribes and schools in numerous tribes, to help develop the weaving of traditional sustainable practices into the science curriculum of these various schools. His most recent publications are chapters in Place Based Education in a Global Age (2011) and Teaching Truly; Indigenizing Mainstream Education (2013). Recently (2015) Mark and his wife, co-founders of the STAR School, were featured on The Emerald Planet, an international internet TV program for the development of their solar powered school. In 1993, he was selected as Principal of the Year by the Bureau of Indian Education in Washington, DC. In 2000, he received a Fellowship from the Open Society Institute in New York City for his work in integrating traditional Navajo forms of conflict resolution into school policies. In 2002, he received the Citizen of the Year award from the Arizona Social Workers. In 2008, he received the Founders Award from the Native American Grant Schools Association for starting that organization. In 2015, he received the Navajo Innovation in Practice award from the Navajo Cultural Studies Board.
Margaret Howard Watson
Founder and President, Grees Schools Alliance
As Founder, CEO and President of the GSA, Margaret (Peg) Watson spearheaded the launch and growth of the GSA to help mitigate the climate and conservation challenges of our times through education and action. She continues to work with founding member schools and partners on development of GSA programs and partnerships. Guiding her efforts is a deep belief in the impact of aggregating primary and secondary schools, as hubs of communities worldwide, to build resilience, transform markets, policy and education, shift behavior, and foster understanding across geopolitical, socioeconomic and generational boundaries through shared values and the language of sustainability. In her varied roles, Peg helps to connect schools locally and virtually to share and implement sustainable best practices, promote connections between schools, communities, and the environments that sustain them, and prepare the next generation of innovators to become environmental stewards. Since GSA’s inception in 2006, she has worked closely with sustainability thought leaders including faculty, facility managers, business officers, heads of school, students and school associations to further their needs and goals.
Formerly a green architect and one of the country's original green building materials experts, Peg has coordinated greening charrettes in the national parks, from the Grand Canyon to Denali National Park, and lived intermittently in Yellowstone to help implement the Greening of Yellowstone Initiative. The conservation ethos of the National Parks, Fish and Wildlife Service and other DOI agencies is one she greatly admires and hopes to help communicate to the next generation of stewards. In 1993, Peg was one of 60 national experts invited to participate in the 1993 Greening of the White House Initiative launched by the Clinton Administration. In 1994, she founded Global Environmental Options (GEO) through which stakeholders were convened to develop and implement greening initiatives including the National Parks projects and the U.S.-Japan Charrette for post-earthquake Kobe which she co-initiated. As a result of her participation in the Greening of The White House, her relationships with GSA partner organizations span two decades and include school associations, government agencies and NGOs. Peg also participated in the Habitat for Humanity Greening, Presidio and Mississippi Flood Plains charrettes among other national and international collaborative efforts.