Inspire Speakers Series

Inspire-Speaker-Logo-2014-15The Inspire Speakers Series is a monthly lecture circuit featuring nationally renowned experts in various fields of sustainability, as well as local specialists who can share experiences of promoting environmental quality, social equity, and economic vitality in Western Pennsylvania.

The theme for our 2014-2015 Inspire Speakers Series is: Creating the Most Livable Places for AllThis means healthy and regenerative buildings, schools, neighborhoods, and cities; thriving communities and economies; socially just places to live; and so much more.

Each lecture is hosted from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at Hill House’s Kaufmann Center.  Networking, food, and drinks begin at 5:00 p.m. and the lectures begin at 6:00 p.m.

Check out our fall line-up below!


Jeremy Rifkin and William Generett Jr.: December 11, 2014 – Cancelled
Due to a last-minute schedule conflict with Mr. Rifkin, we regret that we must cancel this event. Read more here.

Jeremy RifkinJeremy Rifkin is an internationally-renowned writer and consultant who has written 19 books uniting topics as far-ranging as economic development, environmental sustainability, global politics, and technological innovation. Rifkin currently advises the European Commission, the European Parliament, and numerous European heads of state. A catalyst for much of Europe’s green development, Rifkin’s most recent book, The Third Industrial Revolution (a New York Times best seller), focuses on a shift to renewable energy, transformation of building stock, energy storage, Internet technology, and a transformed transportation fleet to take us successfully into the future.


B Generett-24William Generett Jr. is the President and CEO of Urban Innovation21, a regional public-private economic development partnership that works to ensure that all communities are connected to our region’s innovation economy.  Generett is also a partner in the MAPA Group, an international business consulting firm. An active member of the Pittsburgh community, he has worked as a nonprofit executive, entrepreneur, corporate executive, attorney and teacher. Recently, Generett was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which advises U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on expanding entrepreneurship and promoting innovation.



Photo: Jeff Lipsky

Photo: Jeff Lipsky

Dr. Wallace J. Nichols and Lisa Schroeder: November 13, 2014 (past)

Dr. Nichols (or “J”) is a lover of water.  His theory of “neuroconservation”  is the belief that environmental activism would be most effective if people could draw connections between two great forces: the ocean and the human mind.  His recent book, Blue Mind, shows that being in, near, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.  This research – which combines environmental activism with neuroscience – has made him a pioneer in the world of sustainability.  Stay tuned for a GBA-led book club where you can read Blue Mind with us!


Schroeder bio photo

Photo: Ray Miles

Lisa Millspaugh Schroeder is President and Chief Executive Officer of Riverlife: a non-profit organization with the mission to reclaim, restore, and promote Pittsburgh’s riverfronts.  Schroeder is a lifelong advocate and spokesperson for the power of sustainable waterfront development to transform cities.  She was awarded the AIA Gold Medal in 2012 and was recognized as an Outstanding Woman in Business by the Pittsburgh Business Times (2011).  While earning a Masters of Science from Columbia University, Schroeder received a William Kinne Fellows fellowship for her work teaching children about architecture and historic preservation.  Growing up in Baltimore, Lisa developed a deep love for cities and has worked throughout her career to improve the quality of life through urban planning, preservation, and environmental conservation.


Antwi Akom

Dr. Antwi Akom and Grant Ervin: October 9, 2014 (past)

Dr. Akom sees “shareable cities” as the cities of the future and wonders what our communities would look like if we designed for everyone in mind.  As associate professor of urban sociology at San Francisco State University and co-founder of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED), Dr. Akom seeks to connect environmental health with societal well-being, equal opportunity education with economic equity.  His work includes developing tools, ideas, and models that would change the way social services are delivered to low-income communities and people of color. 


Grant ErvinGrant Ervin is the Sustainability Manager for the City of Pittsburgh. He works to improve sustainability performance through city operations and policies. Grant has been working for the City of Pittsburgh since 2014. He is a member of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) and a board member of Sustainable Pittsburgh. Prior to joining Mayor William Peduto’s team, Grant served as regional director for sustainable development advocates 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania where he specialized in transportation, infrastructure and land use policy. Grant began his career in community development with the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group were he led the organization’s public policy advocacy efforts related to vacant land reclamation, technology applications and neighborhood reinvestment.


We’d like to thank our Inspire Speakers Series Co-Presenting Partners:

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Thanks also to our Inspire Speakers Series Media Partners:

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