Inspire Speakers Series

Founded in 2012 by Green Building Alliance, the Inspire Speakers Series proposes a new vision for the city, one based on inclusive dialogue and shared prosperity. In its 8th season, the series has welcomed over 100 national thought leaders to discuss topics including public art, placemaking, and equitable development. Series highlights include Paul Hawken, Joel Glansberg, Toni Griffin, and Candy Chang.

Upcoming Events:

Join GBA for Inspirational Stories on the Intersections of Climate, Equity, and Health

Our first Inspire Speakers Series of the decade will engage local leaders and changemakers to tell their inspiring stories of the Intersections of Climate, Equity, and Health. Our amazing storytellers will recount their experiences throughout each topic, showing the symbiotic harmony between climate, equity, and health.


James Harris, was born in Camden, NJ. He joined the Army after graduating High School and served as a Military Policeman for 6 years. After an honorable discharge, he graduated from Seton Hall University with a degree in Behavioral Science and an MBA in Business Management and Economics from Rosemont College. Harris began his career in corporate work but decided to make the switch to public service soon thereafter. Harris joined the New England area supporting school turnaround efforts, then became the School Superintendent for the Daniel Boone Area School District. He is currently the Superintendent of the Woodland Hills School District.


Njaimeh Njie is a photographer, filmmaker, and multimedia producer. Her practice centers everyday people, narratives, and landscapes, with a focus on how Black people perceive themselves and their experiences in the places they call home. Njie has been recognized as the 2019 Pittsburgh City Paper Visual Artist of the Year, the 2019 Duquesne University/August Wilson House Fellow, and the 2018 Pittsburgh Center of the Arts Emerging Artist of the Year. Njie is the Founder/Lead Producer of the nonfiction storytelling company Eleven Stanley Productions, and she earned her B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.


Isabela-Cajiao Angelelli, MD attended medical school in Colombia and moved to the USA to become a researcher in Molecular Immunogenetics at the University of Pennsylvania. She became a Pediatrician at UPMC Children’s Hospital where she is Director of Clinical Operations for the Pediatric Sedation Service. She is currently the Director of the Hospital’s Green/Sustainability Team and member of the Tree Pittsburgh Board of Directors. Isabela co-founded the  One Tree Per Child Pittsburgh, the US chapter of an international organization dedicated to giving the opportunity to every school-aged child to plant a tree.


Alicia Volcy graduated from Florida A&M University. She spent over two years working in life insurance before enrolling in the UDREAM Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University in 2011. Alicia’s career path has provided unique opportunities to learn the in’s and out’s of the construction industry and the complexities of the Design-Build delivery method. The experiences were invaluable, but her love of Architecture led her back to design in 2015. Alicia currently works independently as a Design & Real estate development consultant and she serves as President for the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.


Leda Pierdriel Arons is a senior at Fox Chapel Area High School and is thrilled to be a speaker at the Inspire Speakers Series. Leda is heavily involved in the choir and musical programs at her school and is co-captain of the Fox Chapel Girls Crew Team. She is also a participant in the Green Building Alliance’s Environmental Youth Program and plans to major in environmental studies next year in college. Leda would like to thank her mom, dad, sister Avalon, and dog Coco for all their love and support.


Illah R. Nourbakhsh is K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. Illah is currently serving as CEO of Airviz Inc., which is dedicated to global empowerment regarding air quality. He is a member of the June Harless West Virginia Hall of Fame. He is a World Economic Forum Global Steward and a senior advisor to The Future Society, Harvard Kennedy School, as well as RoboGlobal.


Dr. Chuck Herring (emcee) is a nationally acclaimed educator, author, entrepreneur, and speaker, Dr. Charles Herring draws from a wellspring of experience to engage audiences with humor and nuance. Currently, Chuck is the Kindergarten – 5th Grade Enrichment Teacher in the South Fayette School District. He also serves as a Board Member of PAEYC (The Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children). Through the hectic pace of his life, he also finds time to be Christine’s husband and Vanessa, Ashley and Imani’s dad.



4:30-5:30 – Food, Drinks, and Networking
5:30-7:00 – Presentations by our Storytellers
7:00 – Q&A Session, Networking with Storytellers


Series Sponsors:

Event Sponsor:

Partners and Funders:

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Caroline Fredricka Holdship Charitable Trust
PNC Charitable Trusts

Media Sponsors:


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Get in on the conversation!

  • Volunteer to write a guest blog on “What I Learned at the Inspire Speakers Series” here.

  • Follow along on Twitter #inspirespeakerspgh.

  • Tell all your friends about the Inspire Speakers Series by sharing the lectures on Facebook!

  • Learn more about the series and our past presenters on our Inspire Speakers Series website!