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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 Meeting Info

August 22, 2019

Location: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Agoura Hills

Focus: The meeting took place over the better part of the day and had three parts. The first was an in-depth tour of the fascinating LEED Platinum building where we were meeting. Facilities and sustainability head Katherine Miller, who was project lead for the building’s construction, led the tour. The second part focused on LA County’s new sustainability plan, recently approved by the Supervisors. Chris Rhei was a key architect of the plan and provided us with background information on its development. The third part of the day’s meeting was devoted to brainstorming about the vision and work of the Taskforce itself, led by Pando Institute co-founder Brandt Williams and engaging four working groups. To view images from the day, go here.

John Onderdonk, Taskforce chair and CSO of Caltech, in discussion with a breakout group for brainstorming Taskforce mission and work at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in Agoura Hills, CA.


Program: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Speakers and facilitators:

  • CSO Taskforce – John Onderdonk, CSO Taskforce Chair; Caltech CSO
  • Pando Institute – Brandt Williams, Pando Populus Board Member
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation – Katherine Miller, Director of Campus Expansion, Facilities and Workplace Services, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • County of Los Angeles, Office of Sustainability – Chris Rhie, Urban Planner and Sustainability Strategist, BuroHappold Engineering


Previous Meetings

Location: Beckman Institute Auditorium and Tolman/Bacher House at The Keck Center for Space Studies, Caltech

Focus: The meeting was in two parts. The first part was a lecture focused on climate change from space, given by Joao Texeira, Co-Director of the Center for Climate Sciences at JPL. The second part of the evening focused on brainstorming plans for the Taskforce-sponsored ECOLIBRIUM BLITZ.


Tolman/Bacher House at the Keck Institute for Space Studies, Caltech. An historic house, it has hosted some of the country’s most notable thinkers.


Program (first part): 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Lecture: Joao Texeira, Co-Director of the Center for Climate Sciences at JPL

Program (second part): 7:30 – 8:45 pm
Moderator: John Onderdonk, CSO Taskforce Chair; Caltech CSO
Speakers and facilitators:

  • City of Los Angeles – Andy Shrader, Office of LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, Update on Office of Climate Emergency Mobilization Director
  • Pando Populus – Eugene Shirley, President, Update on ECOLIBRIUM BLITZ
  • Second Home – Magdalena Moursy, Head of Cultural Programming, LA, on ECOLIBRIUM BLITZ sponsor’s perspective
  • Group discussion – Gary Gero, CSO
  • Pando Populus – ECOLIBRIUM BLITZ

Location: Resnick Sustainability Institute, Caltech

Focus: The meeting focused on how we might take advantage of an opportunity opening up for the summer of 2019:  to host a series of high-profile public events focused on key sustainability issues at the soon-to-be-installed SelgasCano Pavilion at the La Brea Tar Pits.


Second Home Serpentine Pavilion by SelgasCano, soon to be installed on the campus of the La Brea Tar Pits.


Networking: 5:30 – 6:00 pm

Program: 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Moderator:  John Onderdonk, CSO Taskforce Chair; Caltech CSO

Speakers and facilitators: 

  • CSO Taskforce – John Onderdonk, Chair; Caltech CSO
  • Pando Populus – Eugene Shirley, President
  • What Design Can Do – Adam Eeuwins, LA head
  • County of Los Angeles – Gary Gero, CSO
  • Pando Populus – Mervis Reissig, Project Manager

December 13 follow-up meeting was held at Caltech for volunteer members of a working group focused on this event.

Tour: SpaceX and Boring Co.
Meeting: DoubleTree by Hilton, LAX-El Segundo

Keynote Presentation: Adam Lane, Vice President, Programs, Los Angeles Business Council. Adam will discuss the intersection of business and sustainability, focusing on three LA examples.

Prior to the meeting, Taskforce members were given private behind-the-scenes tours at both SpaceX and The Boring Company.


Tours (SpaceX and Boring): 4:30 – 6:00 pm; 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Networking: 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Program: 7:30 – 8:45 pm

Keynote: Adam Lane, Los Angeles Business Council Vice President, Programs.

Challenge highlight: Andy Shrader, Office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, on EV charging. Andy created this Google Doc to collect ideas in follow-up to the discussion.

CSO Taskforce business: Sasha Calder, Counter Brands CSO, on collecting Taskforce membership profiles

CSO projects update: Eugene Shirley, Pando Populus president



Adam Lane, Intersection of Business & Sustainability

Location: LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI), 525 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles 90013

Keynote Presentation: Matt Peterson, former CSO of the City of Los Angeles and currently President and CEO of the. He will talk about the work of LACI within the context of City and County sustainability goals.

Taskforce members gathered at the LA Cleantech Incubator to listen to former Los Angeles CSO and current CEO of LACI Matt Petersen.


Networking: 6:00 pm

Program: 6:30 – 8:30 pm.  Agenda (see PDF for details)

Keynote: Matt Peterson, LA Cleantech Incubator CEO, former CSO for the City of Los Angeles

Challenge highlight: Marvin Moon, Director, Power Engineering Division, LADWP

CITY BLITZ update: Steve Sabicer, Chair, Sustainable Claremont

JUNK BATTLE! update: Shannon Scrofano, Professor, CalArts; Nathan Cooke, Professor, ArtCenter; Bonny Bentzin, Deputy CSO, UCLA

CSO Taskforce strategy: Sasha Calder, CSO Strategic Taskforce



Matt Petersen, LACI Perspective on Sustainability


Marvin Moon, Challenge Focus


Steve Sabicer, CITY BLITZ Project Update


Bonny Bentzin, JUNK BATTLE! Specialist Symposium

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

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.

Taskforce Events


A four-part series of events to harness the genius of LA County’s creative community for the most ambitious regional sustainability plan in the country.


Executive-level education and innovation for sustainable cities.

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

Bonny 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 Sustainability, Beauty Counter / Counter Brands, LLC

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 Sustainability Planner, City of West Hollywood

Austin Eriksson, California State University – Northridge, Director of Energy & Sustainability

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

Pablo La Roche, Cal Poly Pomona, Interim Director, Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies; Callison RTKL, Associate Vice President

Mary Leslie, President, Los Angeles Business Council

Loraine Lundquist, Lecturer, CSUN

Katherine Miller, Director of Campus Expansion, Facilities and Workplace Services, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

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

Luis Navarro, ADEC Innovations, Director of Sustainability Services

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

Craig Reiter, LA Metro, Senior Director, Environmental Compliance and Sustainability

Christopher Rhie, Urban Planner and Sustainability Strategist, BuroHappold Engineering

Steve Sabicer, Chair, Sustainable Claremont

Ezra Silk, The Climate Mobilization, Director of Strategy and Policy

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

Michael Swords, VP Government Relations, LA Cleantech Incubator

Mike Wallace, Managing Director, BrownFlynn