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Spring 2020 Sustainable Business Forum

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Theme: "The Role of Corporate Purpose in Driving Sustainability Strategy" This is an exclusive and intensive working meeting hosted by the Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) for our corporate sponsors and select invited guests. Companies are encouraged to send two representatives to participate:

  1. senior sustainability manager within the organization
  2. senior strategy or communications manager.
Event Description

Featured speakers include:

  • Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network
  • Michael Bzdak, Global Director, Employee Engagement, Global Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson
  • Kelsey Halling, Head of Partnerships, Thread International
  • Sonja Finn, Chef/Owner of Dinette and Consulting Chef of The Café Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History

Jeffrey Sachs, Academic Keynote


Jeffrey D. Sachs is a University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed the Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development. He has been advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General António Guterres. He spent over twenty years as a professor at Harvard University, where he received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. He has authored numerous bestseller books. His most recent book is A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2018). Sachs was twice named as Time magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders, and was ranked by The Economist among the top three most influential living economists.

Michael Bzdak, Industry Keynote


As the Global Director of Employee Engagement in the office of Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson, Michael Bzdak manages the Corporation’s efforts to engage employees in social impact work.

Michael serves on the New Jersey’s Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism and Community Service and on the advisory board of Rutgers University’s Institute for Women’s Leadership. Additionally, he has served on the Council on Foundations Corporate Committee; the New Jersey AIDS Partnership Advisory Committee; the board of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation as well as the New Jersey Council for the Humanities where he completed a term as chairman of the board of directors. As a visiting part-time lecturer in the in the School of Communications and Information Studies at Rutgers University, Michael and a faculty member designed a course on Communicating CSR and have taught the course for nine consecutive years.

He received a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MA and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

Kelsey Halling, Panelist


Kelsey Halling joined the founding team of Thread in 2011 following five years working in the non profit sector in Pittsburgh. Her career began with the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, a national post-graduate Fellowship program focusing on civic engagement. At Thread, Ms. Halling built the on the ground community impact programming for Thread's waste reclamation network in Haiti, which was then expanded to Honduras and Taiwan as Thread's collection network grew. Ms. Halling continues to oversee impact programming across Thread's sourcing countries. In 2017, she took over leadership of sales, and has led the transition to First Mile, expanding the portfolio of global brands that utilize First Mile material in their products and driving further demand for responsibly sourced recycled plastic from Haiti, Honduras, and Taiwan.

Outside of Thread, Ms. Halling has served on the Board of Directors for The Midwife Center and Arcade Comedy Theater in Pittsburgh. She leads the recycled polyester supplier committee within the Textile Exchange's recycled polyester working group and represents Thread in the Ellen Macarthur Foundation's Circular Economy 100 working group. She remains an active volunteer for Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, Civically Inc. and WORK. Ms. Halling holds a B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing, minor in French, certification in Leadership and Ethics, and certification in International Business from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Sonja Finn, Presenter


Sonja Finn is the Chef and Owner of Dinette and Consulting Chef of The Café Carnegie at Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History.

Sonja opened Dinette on October 9th, 2008, and 4 months later became the first Pittsburgh Chef to be recognized by the James Beard Foundation - twice a semi-finalist for “Rising Star Chef of the Year” (2009 and 2010). Sonja was also number 10 of Mother Nature Network’s “40 Chef’s Under 40” (2009), one of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “Young Pittsburghers to Watch in 2009,” and twice a regional nominee for Food and Wine’s “Peoples’ Best New Chef” (2011 and 2012). More recently, Sonja’s been named an ACDA “Woman of Achievement” (2017) and a Pittsburgh Magazine's "40 under 40" (2017), and was featured on “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown” Season 10. In June 2019, Sustainable Pittsburgh honored Sonja with the “Leadership in Sustainability” Award.

Sonja is a Culinary Institute of America (2003) and Columbia University (2001) grad.

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