Tag Archives | Inspire Speakers Series

Photo by Rebecca Hale/National Geographic

Environmental Justice & Civic Conversation

“I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again.  Simple, honest, human conversation.  Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings.  Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.”  — Margaret Wheatley On January 17, 1971, John […]

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stunning river reflection with vibrant colors (building reflected)

So Long, 2016! Here’s Where 2017 is Taking Us!

2017 will bring challenges and opportunities for green buildings and sustainability.  However, we at GBA like to look on the bright side, so here’s some positive perspectives from GBA staff about what we’re excited about in 2017 – along with what we’re proud of accomplishing in 2016. Ryan In 2017, I look forward to finding […]

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Exciting Events at Next Week’s Living Product Expo

Products found in our built environment have a significant impact on human health and well-being, as well as the environment. Understanding more about these products is critical to reducing negative impacts on people and the planet. GBA is excited to partner with the International Living Future Institute to host the second annual Living Product Expo in […]

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From Gloom and Doom to Hope and (Climate) Change

The Inspire Speakers Series season finale exemplified the goal of the entire program – to share, engage, connect, and inspire action. Internationally acclaimed environmentalist, author, and sustainability pioneer Paul Hawken, along with Dr. Joylette Portlock, president of Pittsburgh nonprofit Communitopia, delivered motivating, science-based, solution-focused inspiration to a sold-out audience of more than 200 people last week. […]

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Two Perspectives, Two Captivating Stories, and One Energized Audience

The Inspire Speakers Series lecture on April 14 was an energetic, moving discussion about balancing education, economics and equity. The words “transformative,” “triple-bottom-line,” “equity” and others have all become buzzwords. Emcee Majestic Lane challenged us to think about what they actually mean? How do you put them into action? How do they all connect? Through […]

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Giving Thanks for 2015 and the Promise of 2016

I may have my holidays confused, but in this first full week of the new year (2016), I find myself being thankful for oh so many things. Looking Back First off, I feel thankful and honored to be at the helm of an amazing organization with a 22-year legacy of service to Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, […]

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Inspire Speaker Series and p4 Pittsburgh Present: Designing Places to Thrive, with Toni Griffin and John Fetterman

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To most people, urban and community design might not seem like the venue where conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion would take place. However, issues of justice, equity, and access are really part and parcel of the goal of urban design: to create places that thrive. Toni Griffin will share her vision and experience working in cities like Detroit, Newark, Chicago, and Washington, DC, while John Fetterman will present his vision for Braddock as a model for equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.


More About Our Speakers:

Toni Griffin

Toni Griffin-photo-BW-sq-webToni L. Griffin is UC Berkeley’s Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Distinguished Professor of Real Estate Law and Urban Planning and the founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. The Center works to advance design practice, research, advocacy, and education in order to build sustainable communities, cities, and regions that are resilient and just. In addition to her work with the Center, Griffin has a private practice located in New York in Urban Planning and Design for the American City, and she serves as a board member of the Regional Plan Association.

Griffin is the former Director of Community Development for the City of Newark, New Jersey, as well as the former Vice President and Director of Design for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in Washington, DC and the Deputy Director for Revitalization Planning and Neighborhood Planning in the D.C. Office of Planning. In addition, she has served as the Vice President for Planning and Tourism Development for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation in NYC. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago was her first job as an architect, and while working there, she became an Associate Partner with foci on architecture and urban design projects.

Griffin holds a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame. She received a Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and she taught at Harvard as an Adjunct Associate Professor for five years.

Hear Griffin speak about her work in Detroit through her private practice in Urban Planning and Design for the American City here: https://www.ted.com/talks/toni_griffin_a_new_vision_for_rebuilding_detroit


Mayor John Fetterman

JohnFettermanSince 2005, John Fetterman has served as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a municipality on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Once a booming steel town where Andrew Carnegie established his first mill, Braddock in 2001 was one of the poorest and most troubled communities in the commonwealth, facing steep population decline and high rates of poverty. John saw the town’s beauty and the grit and determination that had been the community’s roots for generations. He bought an abandoned church and made Braddock home.

Over the last 10 years, Mayor Fetterman has brought passion and commitment to his post, and drawing international attention in trying to revitalize the economy in Braddock. John has worked tirelessly to break the cycle of violence in Braddock, which has culminated in nearly 5 ½ years without the taking of a life. He brings a hands-on approach from his AmeriCorps service experience to rebuilding the Braddock community, creating jobs, engaging youth, and bringing creative urban policy solutions to Braddock.

Fetterman holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Albright College and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he focused on finding solutions in social work, business, and public policy to confront urban challenges and economic inequality.



4:30-5:30 — Food, Drinks and Networking
5:30-6:30–Lectures by Toni Griffin and John Fetterman
6:30-7:00–Question and Answer Session



*Discover how Griffin and Fetterman’s work fits into the Inspire Speakers Series goal of creating healthy and high performing spaces for all.

*Learn how urban development and diversity, equity, and inclusion are related.

*Find out how sustainable development can create jobs and engage children and young adults.

*Understand the connection between design practice and resilient and sustainable communities.


Child Care During the Lecture (New this season!)

We are thrilled to be offering mindful and engaging supervision for children ages 5 and up in partnership with the Environmental Charter School! There is no charge for this service for up to two children per attendee, but space is limited. We will also provide children with dinner in addition to learning activities. If you are interested in this option, please email Andrew Ellsworth with your child’s name and age after registering yourself.


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This event is approved for 1.5 GBCI CEUs and 1.0 AIA HSW hours.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.



Presenting Partners:

PrintWe are pleased to announce that Green Building Alliance and The Heinz Endowments are partnering to bring this year’s lineup of exceptional speakers as a collaboration between Inspire Speakers Series and p4 Pittsburgh (People, Planet, Place and Performance). The two initiatives have the shared goal of bringing big thinkers to Pittsburgh to help us aspire to higher levels of performance for our businesses, communities, economy, and future growth. We look forward to having this season’s speakers open our minds to collaboration, innovation, and challenging the status quo.


Series Sponsors:



Partners and Funders:

Chatham Logo


PGH Schweitzer Fellow Program Logo FINAL





The Environmental Charter School at Frick Park






Media Sponsors:



NEXT logo white tilt


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Inspire Speakers Series Partners with the International Living Future Institute to Present: Arlene Blum

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As it turns out, leadership and mountaineering have a lot in common. They both require self-confidence, self-motivation, passion, and grit to be successful. To create the communities, region, and world that embody values of sustainability (healthy, just, and regenerative), we need to cultivate a new generation of leaders who are inspired to find and take on their own Mount Everests.

Arlene has blazed new trails physically and metaphorically, breaking barriers and changing minds along the way. She will share lessons learned on reforming policies that threaten human health, the safety of children, and the global environment; leading risky mountaineering adventures; and fostering women’s leadership.


Arlene Blum, PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Visiting Scholar in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. The Institute brings government, industry, scientists, and citizens groups together worldwide to support chemical policies that protect human health and the global environment. Arlene’s research and policy work has contributed to the prevention of billions of pounds of harmful flame-retardant chemicals in children’s sleepwear, furniture, electronics, and other products worldwide. Her current “mountain,” which she considers her life’s most challenging and important, is to educate decision-makers in industry and government about reducing the use of entire classes of the most harmful chemicals.

Arlene led the first American—and all-women’s—ascent of Annapurna I, considered one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains; co-led the first women’s team to climb Denali; completed the Great Himalayan Traverse across the mountain regions of Bhutan, Nepal, and India; and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter on her back. She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. Her recognitions include the 2014 Wheeler Medal given to the city of Berkeley’s “most useful citizen,” selection by the UK Guardian as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring women, National Women’s History Project selection as one of 100 “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet,” selection as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, and election to the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence.

Arlene received her PhD in biophysical chemistry from UC Berkeley and has taught at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and Wellesley College. She currently serves on the advisory boards for Environmental Building News and the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

More about Arlene:


Learn more about the Living Product Expo, and check out events and tours that GBA is helping to plan in partnership with the conference.

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Is this event out of your price range? We want this incredibly inspiring evening with Arlene Blum to be accessible to everyone in our community. If you find the $20 rate to be prohibitive, please email Jenna Cramer to discuss your options.

This event is approved for 1.5 GBCI CEUs.


Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

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Katie Lockley

On Falling in Love with Trying: Or Lessons I Learned from Majora Carter, David Orr, and Antwi Akom

Over the last three years, Environmental Charter School (ECS) has had the exceptional opportunity to be part of the Green & Healthy Schools Academy’s School Sustainability Culture Program. According to the GHSA site, this program is a two-year, hands-on, immersive learning community that assists schools with integrating sustainability into their buildings, curriculum, and culture through inspirational, […]

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May ISS 2

My Favorite Things: Happy Cities, Part I

Dear Reader – I am writing two blogs about Charles Montgomery, this one about his talk at the Inspire Speakers Series, which is more direct reporting, and then another one about his book, Happy City, which will include my own reactions and reflections. Inspire Speakers Series Charles entertained a crowd of 100 at the Hill […]

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