“To halt the decline of an ecosystem, it is necessary to think like an ecosystem.”
–Douglas P. Wheeler

CSO Strategic Taskforce

The CSO Strategic Taskforce includes Chief Sustainability Officers from academic, business, and government institutions across LA County and is a collaborative initiative with Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz.

Taskforce Meetings

July 31, 2017
Location: Athenaeum, Caltech
Featured Presentation: John Bielenberg, Think Wrong

Foreground, left to right: Robyn Eason, West Hollywood Senior Planner, John Bielenberg, Future Partners founder and Pando Populus Creative Director, Mark Spears, Walt Disney Company Sustainable Business Practices Director (ret.).

The inaugural event of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) Strategic Taskforce kicked off in Caltech’s legendary Athenaeum with the challenge to “think wrong” about LA County sustainability — given the direction that thinking “right” is taking us.

John Onderdonk, CSO of Caltech, chaired the evening and welcomed members to this premiere event. Andy Shrader, environmental policy director from the Office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, delivered the Councilmember’s greetings.

John Bielenberg, a founder of Pando Populus and of the Silicon Valley design firm Future Partners, then facilitated the kind of Think Wrong discussions that he has become known for internationally. Breakout sessions generated specific, small-bet ideas addressing countywide sustainability challenges from waste to EV charging to water.

Taskforce members said in post-event debriefings that they were interested in: 1) cross-silo networking; 2) cutting-edge content and best practices; and 3) opportunities to collaborate on specific projects in collaboration with other Taskforce members. They see themselves as a kind of “kitchen cabinet” on sustainability and resource to make key initiatives and events happen.

November 14, 2017
Location: LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Keynote Presentation: Gary Gero, a first look at LA Countywide Sustainability Plan

Gary Gero, Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Officer, addressing the CSO Taskforce.

LA County CSO Gary Gero keynoted the second meeting of the CSO Strategic Taskforce, offering members a first look at the LA Countywide Sustainability Plan. He then took members’ questions.

John Onderdonk chaired the evening, and allocated remaining time for two purposes: discussion of an upcoming project that already has keen interest among some members of the Taskforce; and a Think Wrong brainstorming session.

Project: Eugene Shirley gave an overview of CITY BLITZ, a new peer-to-peer executive education prototype in sustainability that will target municipalities across LA County.

Mike Wallace of BrownFlynn then provided a global to local perspective on sustainability and sketched how CITY BLITZ might fit into Taskforce ambitions to help create a more sustainable County.

Think Wrong: Andy Shrader, from LA City Councilmember Koretz’s office, then asked the group for assistance in brainstorming about EV charging in the city.  Four breakout groups quickly came up with clever and useful ideas.

John Onderdonk concluded by suggesting that the Taskforce appears to have momentum in meeting real needs, and proposing the third meeting be scheduled for late January.



Gary Gero, LA Countywide Sustainability Plan


Mike Wallace, CITY BLITZ: Need and Opportunity

Taskforce Members

John Onderdonk, Chair, Director of Sustainability Programs, Caltech

Andy Shrader, Founding Principal, Director of Environmental Affairs, Water Policy and Sustainability, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz

Eugene Shirley, Founding Principal, President, Pando Populus

Nadereh Afsharmanesh, VP of Sustainability and Education, ECOS

Scott Ammons, Outdoor Programs & Community Relations Manager, REI

Shannon Bart, Sustainability Director, NBC Universal

Bonnie Bentzin, Deputy Sustainability Officer, UCLA

Halli Bovia, Sustainability Programs Manager, USC

Tim Brick, Executive Director, Arroyo Seco Foundation

Randy Britt, Chief Sustainability Officer, Vanir Construction Management

Sasha Calder, Director of Strategy, Sustainability and Impact, Josie Marin Cosmetics

John B. Cobb, Chair, Pando Popopulus; founder at the intersection of philosophy, religion, ethics and the environment; Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Liz Crosson, Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Robyn Eason, Senior Planner, City of West Hollywood

Austin Eriksson, Director of Energy & Sustainability, CSUN

Gary Gero, Chief Sustainability Officer, Los Angeles County

David Grannis, Managing Partner, Point C

Russell Greene, Chief Sustainability Officer (ret.), Cheesecake Factory

Dominique Hargreaves, Managing Partner, US Green Building Council – Los Angeles

Christopher Hazen, Director of Corporate Development, Enovity Inc.

Dean Kubani, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Santa Monica

Mary Leslie, President, Los Angeles Business Council

Loraine Lundquist, Lecturer, CSUN

Heidrun Mumper-Drumm, Director of Sustainability Initiatives, ArtCenter College of Design

John Rego, Vice President Sustainability & Environmental Affairs, Sony Pictures

Steve Sabicer, Chair, Sustainable Claremont

Mark Spears, Director, Sustainable Business Practices (ret.), Walt Disney Company

Michael Swords, VP Government Relations, LA Cleantech Incubator

Mike Wallace, Managing Director, BrownFlynn