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Conference Presenters

This event has passed. Information about 2015's Omega Center for Sustainable Living conference is here.

vandana shivaVandana Shiva, PhD is a world-renowned environmental leader, eco-feminist, author, and thinker. Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology, she is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization, along with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin. Recipient of many awards, she also has served as an adviser to governments and NGOs.  
van jonesVan Jones, a former advisor to President Obama and best-selling author of the definitive book on green jobs, The Green Collar Economy, is cohost of Crossfire on CNN and an award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean energy economy. In 2009, Time magazine called him “one of the 100 most influential people in the world.”  
jeremy rifkinJeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, is an authority on economic sustainability. His books include Zero Marginal Cost SocietyThe Third Industrial Revolution, and The Empathic Civilization  
david orrDavid W. Orr is “Counselor to the President” at Oberlin College and Steven A. Minter fellow at the Cleveland Foundation. He is founder and Chair of the Board of the Oberlin project and a founding editor of the journal Solutions.
Winona LaDuke is an internationally acclaimed author, orator and activist. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities with advanced degrees in rural economic development, LaDuke has devoted her life to protecting the lands and life ways of Native communities. LaDuke is founder and Co-Director of Honor the Earth.
bob berkebileBob Berkebile is an influential sustainable design architect and community planner, a founding principal of BNIM Architects, and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the Center for Global Community.
Bill McKibben, over the past three decades, has shaped public perception—and public action—on climate change, alternative energy, and the need for localized economies. An environmental activist, bestselling author, and "the planet's best green journalist" (TIME), McKibben is the founder of, the massive grassroots climate change initiative.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the 13 year old indigenous environmental activist and youth director of Earth Guardians. He has organized many rallies, actions, demonstrations and events, giving his first speech at a climate change rally when he was six years old. He has become a plaintiff in lawsuits against Colorado and the federal government for not protecting the atmosphere.
Osprey Orielle Lake is the Co-Founder Executive Director of the Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN). She is Founder and President of The Women's Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) and works nationally and internationally to promote resilient communities and foster a post-carbon energy future, while also addressing societal transformation.
Devita Davison spearheads Detroit Kitchen Connect, a network of shared, commercial kitchen spaces city-wide that provides community resources and an array of industry-specific services to burgeoning food entrepreneurs.  
skip backusRobert “Skip” Backus is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). He helped lay the foundation for Omega’s environmental and conservation initiatives, including campus recycling and composting, sustainable purchasing and support of local agriculture, water conservation, and 100 percent sourcing of campus electricity from wind and solar technology.
David BollierDavid Bollier is an influential American activist, writer, and policy strategist who focuses on democratic culture, promoting citizen action and reclaiming the Commons. He is cofounder of the Commons Strategies Group and the author of Think Like a Commoner, Green Governance, and The Wealth of the Commons, among other books.
Carla GoldsteinCarla Goldstein, JD, is Omega Institute’s chief external affairs officer and cofounder of the Omega Women's Leadership Center. An attorney with 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy, she has contributed to more than 100 city, state, and federal laws, and has worked extensively on issues related to women’s rights, poverty, public health, and social justice.
Michael Gayk earned an MFA in Jewelry and Metals from the University of Washington and an BFA in Metals Design from the College for Creative Studies. Michael’s current work is emblematic of tension within muscular structures and pivot points within the human body. Michael is currently the Chair of Education for ACM SIGGRAPH 2015. He is Assistant Professor of Metal/Digital Design and Fabrication at SUNY New Paltz.
Jason Stern is co-founder and publisher at Luminary Publishing, which he launched in 1993, to "nourish and support the cultural, creative, and community life of the Hudson Valley". Jason publishes Chronogram, Upstate House, and their respective websites, and custom publications for likeminded organizations. Jason is author of Learning to Be Human, and pens the monthly “Esteemed Reader” column in Chronogram.
David Temple, guitarist and composer, has performed throughout the country as a soloist, accompanist and ensemble player. His mission is to present concert programs full of color and variety, appealing to the newcomer as well as the long-time listener. David teaches at Bard Conservatory Preparatory Division and at his home-studio in Red Hook, NY. He is the Artistic Director for the Mid-Hudson Classical Guitar Society.
Leslie Booker is Director of Teacher Trainings for the Lineage Project where she brings awareness-based practices, like yoga and meditation to incarcerated and court involved youth. She is also the founder of Urban Sangha Project a collective that supports the sustainability of people in direct service and front line ChangeMakers through mindful yoga, meditation and dialogue.
Ethan Roland Solaviev is an international expert on sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and eco-social entrepreneurship. He is the co-author of Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance and a core developer of the 8 Forms of Capital framework.
David Hasbury is an organizational and community development consultant, educator, and facilitator. For 30 years he has been committed to engaging the power of CoCreation—people gathering together to creatively shape the world around them.

New York Harbor School Students

Jelani Wiltshire attends the New York Harbor School as a senior located on Governors Island in New York City. While in the Marine Biology Research Program he is in charge of deploying a water quality monitoring platform built to gather continuous water quality data associated to Governors Island oyster reef. While at harbor school he has been on the sailing team and the music club. Jelani also sings in the choir at his church. Jelani looks forward to graduating high school and moving on to college, continuing his education.

Andrew Sommer is a senior at the New York Harbor School. Currently, he is researching sessile invertebrate growth on porcelain plates in the school’s marine biology research program. Hopefully, with this knowledge, more viable substrate can be placed in the New York Harbor for organisms, such as oysters, to grow on. Andrew is on track to graduate from the Harbor School as the Valedictorian. His time at the school has been spent on multiple after-school activities like the Citizen Science Voluntary Environmental Monitoring Team - Harbor SEALs, soccer, and a composting Internship. In the future, he hopes to study and become a professional engineer.

Violeta Gonzalez is in her senior year of high school at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School and is part of Marine Biology Research Program. She is aspiring to become a veterinarian specializing in conservation medicine to help restore tigers and polar bears back to the wild. At the Harbor School she is the data manager for an EPA funded water quality monitoring program in the Upper New York Bay. This program is part of the Harbor SEALs Voluntary Citizen Science Environmental Monitoring Team. While at Harbor, Violeta has been on the Dean’s list (above a 90 average) since her last semester of sophomore year.

Alyssa Giacinto is a senior in New York Harbor School who wants to be an aquaculturist and start her own restoration one day. She was on the honor roll and high honor roll. Alyssa’s first roll in the restoration of the Hudson is that she helps to spawn and maintain oysters. Her other roll in the restoration of the Hudson is she is currently working on a research project that tests if the location of oysters will affect their growth. Some activities that she’s done is she has interned in the Billion Oyster Project and The River Project.

Zora Barnwell, a senior from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, has been an amazing presence in the Marine Tech program since beginning of Sophomore year. She has interned at the South St Seaport as a Marine Technician, with the Harbor foundation as a boat builder, and has served as crew aboard the WWII Liberty ship John Brown. She has also volunteered over 150 hours maintaining the Harbor School fleet maintenance lab and just recently she formed a part of the group that hosted President Bill Clinton during his visit to Harbor. She is resolved to pursue a shipboard career as a marine engineer and is steadfast in her belief that the front lines of environmental protection and sustainability are manned by the engineers and techs that design, install, and maintain marine systems.

Kat Lobasov is a senior who resides in Washington Heights, Manhattan. She has shown constant perseverance and excellence in the Ocean Engineering program, building underwater robots since sophomore year. She has been involved with research projects at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty campus. She has served as crew on the WWII Liberty Ship John Brown. She has been involved with the Billion Oyster Project by assisting with mock ups of the platform website, and helping to install the technology on the scientific platform. She was selected to greet former President Bill Clinton, when he came to the school. She also has appeared in a Verizon promotion for the Billion Oyster project, as well as National Geographic during her summer research program. Kat aspires to go to college for a technical degree and work in the field of technology with software development.

New York Harbor School