2010 EcoHour Speakers

January 2010; Ellen McBarnette, Esq.

Founder; Urban Solar Solutions

When Ellen discovered how challenging it was to locate green products to renovate her own home, she started ‘Urban Solar Solutions,’ an alternative energy and energy efficiency consulting firm that offers green job trainings, provides consumer education in green energy issues, sells energy saving products and consults on energy saving processes and retrofits.

In addition to Urban Solar Solutions, Ellen has a rich background in public policy, and environmental and social justice. She has worked for congress members, served as a lobbyist for the Sierra Club on global warming, energy and environmental justice, and lobbied for the Clean Water Act, wetlands, polluted runoff and CAFE standards.

Back to Top

February 2010; Jessica Berk Ross

Executive Vice President; Ruder Finn Washington, DC Office

Jessica Berk Ross is the managing director of the Ruder Finn Washington, DC office.  Jessica brings more than 20 years of experience blending political, public affairs and public relations experience into winning communications strategies for clients.  Jessica has provided strategic counsel to numerous clients across industry sectors—helping them navigate the political, policy and business landscapes.  From building visibility with opinion leaders, to having a voice in the crowded marketplace of ideas, to mobilizing support with grassroots constituencies, Jessica has helped clients to make their voices heard, increase awareness of their issues and build both momentum and support.

From corporate reputation management and corporate social responsibility, to capital development campaigns and building mindshare for non-profit organizations, Jessica has worked with a broad spectrum of clients using strategic communications for meaningful organizational outcomes.  She has worked with a number of organizations on varied environmental issues including locally grown food and renewable energy.   Recent projects include the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Campaign with the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the launch of The George Washington University Institute for Solar Analysis.

Jessica began her career as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill, and has served as the principal advisor on infrastructure and transportation issues and to Secretary Norman Mineta—former Chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Prior to joining Ruder Finn, Jessica ran her own public relations and public affairs consulting firm.  She is the former Public Affairs practice director for Hill & Knowlton.  Jessica is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook and holds a Master’s degree in Legislative Affairs/Political Science from The George Washington University.  Jessica is an avid gardener, and she teaches art history and art appreciation classes to elementary school students.

Back to Top

March 2010; Rebecca Bell

Environmental Education Specialist; Maryland State Department of Education

Rebecca provides outstanding leadership in embedding environmental issues into the Maryland State curriculum for public schools. A middle and high school teacher for 26 years, Rebecca piloted the Gifted and Talented middle school program in Washington County, MD and in 2008, as the Maryland Middle School Science Teacher of the Year she was chosen to participate in the Teacher at Sea program–an initiative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that helps scientists monitor the changing ocean ecosystem.

Rebecca also serves on the Governor’s climate change commission and was recently involved in developing the Maryland environmental literacy standards for K-12 education and the state plan for environmental literacy.

Back to Top

April 2010; Leda Huta

Executive Director; Endangered Species Coalition

Leda is a cofounder of EcoWomen, a yoga student in teacher training, a mom, the Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition and a consumer of vast amounts of dark chocolate.  Interested in all things environment, Leda has worked on species protection, forest conservation, energy, environment & health, and green businesses. Most recently, she was the Acting Executive Director for Finding Species, which gave her the opportunity to travel to the Andes and the Amazon. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto with a double major in environmental science and environment & resource management and a minor in zoology.  Leda is working on improving her Ukrainian and Spanish and is now seriously struggling with her Sanskrit.

Back to Top

May 2010; Mary Kearns

Founder and Chief Herban Developer; Herban Lifestyle, LLC

Mary grew up in an environmentally conscious household where natural food and recycling were the norm. Her mother was into organic cooking and being green long before it was cool. Mary has always delighted in the process of creating new products, and takes great pleasure in learning about the aroma therapeutic properties of essential oils and the healing properties of herbs.

In addition to being the founder and Chief Herban Developer at Herban Lifestyle, Mary is a wellness consultant working on the scientific review of cancer prevention programs. She is learning to balance her urban lifestyle with healthful habits‚ mind, body, and spirit‚ and shares this knowledge with others through her workshops and writing.

Back to Top

June 2010; Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf

Managing Director, Species and Wildlife Trade Program; World Wildlife Fund

Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf is the managing director of WWF’s Species and Wildlife Trade Programs since January 2009. Dr. Klenzendorf is an expert on tiger conservation, bears, other large mammal conservation issues, human-wildlife conflict, and carnivore. Previously she directed all mammal-related programs in Asia for WWF. Her work includes technical advisor for field projects, writing proposals and reports, media relations, and interagency communications.

Before joining WWF in 2002, she was a field biologist for the Virginia Fish and Game Department, studying Alleghany black bear ecology and management for her PhD degree. She also worked for a team in Europe to design an Austrian brown bear management plan, which earned her an M.S. degree. A native German, Sybille came to the United States in 1994 and has continued to work internationally finding solutions for wildlife-human conflicts. Sybille received her Ph.D. in wildlife science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Back to Top

July 2010; Dr. Vivian Buckingham

Director of Government Relations; Ceres

Vivian Buckingham is the Director of Government Relations for Ceres where she works with and represents Fortune 500 companies and institutional investors on federal policy related to sustainability and corporate governance issues. She came to Ceres from the 1Sky Campaign where she served as Policy Director. Prior to joining 1Sky, Vivian directed the Campaign for Communities for Earth Day Network, worked for the Environmental Law Institute, the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Program of Earthjustice and the Center for International Environmental Law in Geneva, Switzerland. She was appointed a fellow by the First Nations Institute to the Roundtable on the North American Pharmaceutical Industry and Research Involving Indigenous Knowledge. In 2002 she directed and coordinated the “Conference on Trade, Sustainability and Global Governance” (Symposium Issue, Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, Volume 27 No. 2).

Before joining the legal profession, Vivian enjoyed careers in the field of public relations, in university administration and finance, and in project management for Fortune 100 companies. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University cum laude and earned her JD from Columbia University School of Law graduating as a Lowenstein Fellow, a CLEA Outstanding Student awardee and a recipient of the Alfred A. Forsyth Prize for Environmental Law. She currently serves on the boards of the Janelia Foundation, the Eastern Environmental Law Center, the Institute for Conservation Leadership and the Columbia Law School Alumni Association.

Back to Top

September 2010; Leslie Fields

Director of Environmental Justice & Community Partnerships Program; Sierra Club

Leslie Fields brings over twenty years of international, federal, state and local environmental justice and environmental law and policy experience to the Sierra Club. She is the former International Director ofFriends of the Earth-US (an environmental NGO) in Washington, D.C., and currently an adjunct law professor at Howard University School of Law.

She has worked with community groups, nonprofit organizations, the private sector and all levels of government and is particularly interested in the intersection of environmental justice, democracy, corporate and civic governance and globalization. Fields has worked extensively on oil/gas natural resource extraction issues and climate change in East, West and Southern Africa.

Back to Top

October 2010; Kate Sheppard

Environmental Reporter; Mother Jones

Kate covers energy and environmental politics in Mother Jones’ Washington bureau. She was previously the political reporter for Grist and a writing fellow at The American Prospect. Her work has also been featured in the New York Times Room for Debate blog, The Guardian’s Comment is Free, The Center for Public Integrity, The Washington Independent, ForeignPolicy.com, Washington Spectator, Who Runs Gov, In These Times, and Bitch.

She was raised on a vegetable farm in southern New Jersey (yes, they do exist), but has adapted well to life in the nation’s capitol. She misses trees and having a Congressional representative with voting power, but thinks D.C. is pretty great anyway.

Back to Top

November 2010; Gina McCarthy

Assistant Administrator; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation

Ms. McCarthy is a leading advocate for comprehensive strategies to confront climate change and strengthen our green economy. During her tenure with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OAR has taken important steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions, including the Endangerment Finding, the Mandatory Reporting Rule, the first tailpipe greenhouse gas emission standard for passenger vehicles, and the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Tailoring Rule. These rules are common-sense ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect public health and the environment.

Prior to her confirmation, Ms. McCarthy served as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. In her 25-year career, she has worked at both the state and local levels on critical environmental issues and helped coordinate policies on economic growth, energy, transportation and the environment.

Back to Top