SXSW ECO Mentor Sessions


Lucia Athens

Wednesday October 8th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Austin, has served as a leader in the sustainability movement for two decades. She is a licensed landscape architect and author of the book, “Building an Emerald City: A Guide to Creating Green Building Policies,” published in 2010 by Island Press. She began her career in green building in the early 1990’s, working on the development team for the City of Austin’s Green Builder program, the first such program in the United States. Ms. Athens previously spent a decade leading the City of Seattle’s award-winning green building programs.


Lindsay Baker

Monday October 6th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Lindsay Baker leads business development and client relationships for Building Robotics, an emerging venture-backed software startup in the building industry. Prior to BR, she worked with Mary Davidge Associates, catalyzing sustainable operations at Google's headquarters. She is a PhD candidate in Building Science at UC Berkeley, where she also received her Masters. She also worked at the USGBC, developing early LEED rating systems. She has served as a writer, convener and consultant in the sustainable buildings industry for over 10 years.

Mitch Baranowski

Tuesday October 7th 10:30am – 11:30am

A seasoned design thinker and creative strategist, Mitch Baranowski co-founded BBMG to help create disruptive business solutions and delightful brand experiences. He has overall responsibility for the brand innovation firm’s creative direction and operations. Mitch has helped dozens of start-ups develop brands, spearheaded multinational consumer campaigns and advised numerous Fortune 500 companies on how to create shared value by connecting sustainability, enterprise strategy, product development and brand marketing. His experience spans many industries, including arts/entertainment, apparel, consumer packaged goods, e-commerce/retail, engineering, financial services, healthcare, technology and travel/hospitality. Recent clients include adidas, Disney Consumer Products, eBay, Ekocycle, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal Paris, NBCUniversal, PepsiCo and Target.


Mekayla Beaver

Monday October 6th 10:30am – 11:30am

- Design Thinking / Human-Centered Design guru
- Catalyzer of massive change
- Questioner, provocateur
- Experimenter, creator, bridge builder

Mekayla Ichneumon Beaver has an insatiable curiosity which translates into constantly asking both WHY and WHY NOT? She has spent 1000s of hours around the world helping individuals and communities get to new levels of understanding about what is really important to them and moving from the mindset of what currently exists and into the mindset of what could be.

After many years as a lead design strategist at IDEO, Mekayla founded Gloworm in order to help organizations use this power to address tricky problems like health and wellness, education and sustainability.

Chandra Bhat

Wednesday October 8th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Dr. Chandra R. Bhat is the Director of the Center for Transportation Research and a Professor in Transportation Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

Jean Brittingham

Monday October 6th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Jean Brittingham, founder of SmartGirls Way and Brittingham Partners, began creating the content to help rapidly scale the women’s entrepreneurial movement that will form the critical base for the next economy. Previously Jean worked with a diverse client group that included Fortune 100 companies, innovative start-ups, local and national governments and NGO's.

Kelly Cash

Monday October 6th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Kelly Cash is a Bay Area 'Tex-pat' writer and consultant whose quest is to answer the question: "What does a million acres taste like?"

Jack Ceadel

Wednesday October 8th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Ento-preneur + pragmatic environmentalist. Background in water. Passionate about genuinely sustainable models. Tired of greenwashing.

Emily Chan

Tuesday October 7th 10:30am – 11:30am

Emily is a sustainability communications consultant at Edelman’s Business + Social Purpose practice in San Francisco and a green careers columnist at The Muse.


Geoff Daniels

Wednesday October 8th 10:30am – 11:30am

Geoffrey Daniels is Executive Vice President and General Manager of Nat Geo WILD, which launched in March 2010. In this role, Daniels annually commissions more than 170 hours of original series, specials and events for broadcast on WILD globally, furthering the network’s commitment to provide extraordinary wildlife programming that inspires people to care about the planet. Under Daniels’ leadership, WILD’s ratings have increased for three straight years, making it one of the fastest growing channels in all of cable, driven by the success of Big Cat Week and series such as Fish Tank Kings, America the WILD with Casey Anderson and The Incredible Dr. Pol.

In his previous role as Senior Vice President of Development and Production for National Geographic Channels International (NGCI), Daniels commissioned more than 250 hours of original programming per year for broadcast in 166 countries, 315 million homes and 34 languages worldwide. He produced nearly 400 hours of factual programming across the network’s core nature, science, adventure and world culture genres, directing breakout series such as Seconds from Disaster, Mega Structures and Air Crash Investigation. In addition, Daniels managed NGCI’s editorial relationship with strategic co-production and output partners in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Prior to joining NGCI in 2001, Daniels was Director of Development for National Geographic Television & Film, where, as part of the Program Enterprise Group, he developed and produced specials and series in support of the National Geographic Channel’s rollout worldwide and domestic U.S. launch.

Daniels began his career in new product development at Time-Life Video & Television (TLV), where he played a key role in building TLV into one of the world’s leading home video distributors through the acquisition and marketing of Sir David Attenborough’s Trials of Life, Ken Burns’ The Civil War and in co-production with the BBC on the award-winning children’s series Growing Up Wild. In 1996, Daniels directed Reader’s Digest’s entry into the global television market, heading up international co-productions and program catalog sales.


Kim Eierman

Monday October 6th 10:30am – 11:30am

Expert on ecological landscapes & native plants; Environmental Horticulturist; Accredited Organic Landcare Professional; Master Gardener & Master Naturalist.

Nicholas Eisenberger

Monday October 6th 10:30am – 11:30am

Founder, Pure Energy Partners. Clean economy pioneer, Cleanweb evangelist. Investor, entrepreneur, and strategist.

Melita Elmore

Wednesday October 8th 10:30am – 11:30am

Travel for environmental auditing, EMS, sustainability, compliance training and energy policy projects. Coming to a city near you.

Rodrigo Espinosa

Monday October 6th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Social Entrepreneur; Lonesome George & Co. Adjunct Professor; Presidio Graduate School & UC Berkeley. Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, asterix + huddle.


Chris Garvin

Monday October 6th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Chris Garvin is an accomplished practitioner and active voice in the sustainable design community. Since moving to New York in 1998, he has specialized in environmental architecture and materials research, while serving on numerous advisory boards and in organizations that advocate for sustainability in design. Chris serves as a project lead for many of Terrapin’s consulting engagements while also managing projects for COOKFOX Architects, where he is a Senior Associate. An integral contributor to Terrapin’s development, he was named a Partner in 2008. Complementing his work at Terrapin, Chris lectures frequently on sustainable design and has taught at the Pratt Institute’s Center for Professional Practice since 2002. He also advises several organizations on sustainability issues, including the National Building Museum and the New York Academy of Sciences. Chris is currently developing an exhibit on “Biomimicry and the Built Environment: lessons learned from Nature”.


Costa Georgiadis

Wednesday October 8th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Costa is an eco-visionary who is always focused on the big picture – the interplay of the micro and the macro. Life is all about the aperture setting, from macro lens close up to 18mm wide-angle fish eye view of the big picture. For Costa soil and water are central to absolutely everything and their availability and sustainability is of the utmost global importance. Costa is particularly fervent about the preciousness of water and the pertinence of its management. He can deconstruct any landscape – analysing climate, aspect, geography, water flow and soil structure to create holistic, sustainable, productive and pleasurable garden and landscape solutions.
Food and Food Security are two areas where Costa connects his skills with landscape design to the very future of human settlements, our cities as we know them. He is involved with Regenerative Agriculture and the holistic practices that are being nurtured to deal with the issues of a rapidly urbanizing world.


Brandie Gilliam

Monday October 6th 10:30am – 11:30am

Passionate about non-toxic products that really work and a beautiful lifestyle, Brandie Gilliam has been researching ingredients and testing products for over a decade. She is adamant about not compromising her health or the planet with harmful ingredients. On a mission to dispel the myth that natural and organic products are subpar to their chemical laden counterparts in performance and design, Brandie created the popular blog Organic Beauty Talk. Both strategic and creative, Brandie divides her professional time between writing, consulting and marketing/branding.

Heather Grady

Monday October 6th 10:30am – 11:30am

Heather Grady recently joined the San Francisco office of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors as Senior Fellow for Global Philanthropy, leading strategy and program development for their global efforts. Just prior to joining RPA she helped to launch a new collaboration to get the philanthropy sector engaged in the new Sustainable Development Goals. She was previously a Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, and Managing Director at Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. For about two decades Heather lived and worked in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, in contexts as diverse as Viet Nam, Sudan and the Gaza Strip. Throughout her career she has focused on projects and policy change across critical issues like climate change, employment, women’s leadership, health, promoting human rights, and the role of business in society. She has degrees from Harvard University and Smith College.

Bob Hebner

Wednesday October 8th 10:30am – 11:30am

Bob Hebner, past IEEE vice president for Technical Activities, is the Director of the Center for Electromechanics and Associate Director for Technology of the Center for Energy Security, both at the University of Texas at Austin. His personal research focuses on smart grid technologies, microgrids, and defense energy systems. He is an active contributor to the modeling and simulation of future smaller scale power systems and the verification of the model predictions. Throughout his career, Dr. Hebner received a Ph.D. in physics and has authored or coauthored over 150 technical papers and reports. He is an IEEE life fellow.

Claire Hempel

Wednesday October 8th 10:30am – 11:30am

Landscape architect and planner with a passion in creating legacy communities.


Michelle Hernandez

Tuesday October 7th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Michelle Hernandez has raised chickens, guineas, and ducks for most of the past decade. She is the Founder and Director of Austin’s highly successful annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour®, as well the Organizer of the 2000+ member Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup,. She consults on interesting green and IT projects and has released the Pickin' Chicken iPhone App, which guides users to find the perfect chicken breeds for their own backyards. She and her husband built their own chicken coop and are still happily married.

Laura Huffman

Tuesday October 7th 10:30am – 11:30am

As state director of The Nature Conservancy in Texas, Laura Huffman heads a statewide team of scientists, conservation experts and support staff whose work protects the integrity of Texas’ natural resources and some of its most iconic landscapes. She has authored over 30 articles and op-ed pieces on a variety of conservation topics, including drought, water scarcity and Gulf of Mexico protection, and emerged as a national thought leader in the wake of the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.


Thomas Kolster

Tuesday October 7th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Thomas Kolster is an experienced keynote speaker with +50 events under his belt from Copenhagen to Cape Town, last year he was dubbed an "Inspirational Leader" by the Huffington Post. He’s is the author of the book “Goodvertising”; the most comprehensive book to date exploring communication for good. As the Director of the Goodvertising Agency, he’s helping companies, non-profits and agencies understand this new reality. This year Thomas founded WhereGoodGrows; the world’s first best-practice collaborative platform that aims to share sustainable communication initiatives to accelerate knowledge and ultimately do greater good. He’s a steady columnist for the Guardian and several other publications and a regular judge at award shows such as D&AD, Creative Circle Award, Creative Conscious Award, The Big Transition and EthicMark Award.

Hannah Kreiswirth

Tuesday October 7th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Tim Lasater

Tuesday October 7th 10:30am – 11:30am

Expert Landcare Professional; Native and Drought Tolerant Specialist; Emphasis on an ecological balance between installation and ROI.


Ryan McCarthy

Tuesday October 7th 10:30am – 11:30am

Ryan is an attorney who specializes in patent prosecution, litigation support, opinion work, IP due diligence, IP strategy, portfolio management, agreements and licensing. Ryan has developed a particular focus on advising entrepreneurs and emerging companies. This work includes developing short- and long-term IP strategies in view of business goals and resources.


Michelle Mullieaux

Tuesday October 7th 11:45am – 12:45pm

VP Marketing at Blue State Digital, Co-Founder desigNYC, Presidio MBA in Sustainability. Fan of gardening, cycling, hammock lounging.


Serena O'Gwin-Miranda

Monday October 6th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Serena is an avid social media enthusiast and strives to live a toxin free life and share the easy choices one can make to do the same. Serena manages the social media sites for three family owned business entities and her own sites geared towards her hobbies. A Native Texan currently resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her tremendously supportive husband Ron, her three energetic children, and her bossy Chihuahua Teanie.


Lisa Pike Sheehy

Tuesday October 7th 10:30am – 11:30am

Lisa Pike Sheehy is the director of environmental initiatives for Patagonia. She oversees the implementation of the company's international environmental grants program and campaigns to publicize environmental issues and mobilize citizens. Lisa has a master's degree in Environmental Policy from Tufts University.


Joi Sears

Tuesday October 7th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Joi M. Sears is an artist, activist, educator and Creative Director of Free People International, a social enterprise which specializes in offering creative solutions to some of the world's toughest challenges. She has earned a Master of Arts degree from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study in Arts and Social Change, and has traveled all over the globe discovering the innate ability of the arts to transform lives and mobilize communities. Joi has recently been awarded a prestigious one year DO School fellowship, specifically for the Green Store Challenge in Hamburg, Germany. There, she will work alongside 19 other social entrepreneurs from around the world to develop a prototype for H&M's first sustainable retail store.

Joel Serface

Monday October 6th 10:30am – 11:30am

Joel Serface is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Brightman Energy and one of the early leaders and investors in the Cleantech movement.

Jan Tripplet

Wednesday October 8th 11:45am – 12:45pm

What’s green and grows successful businesses and owners? Author, entrepreneur, advocate Jan Triplett and the award-winning, green certified Business Success Center.


David Trubridge

Tuesday October 7th 11:45am – 12:45pm

David Trubridge is an internationally recognized designer. From his studio and manufacturing facility in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, Trubridge has developed a world-wide reputation for his singular and beautiful range of furniture and lighting. For Trubridge, the eco-conscious element of his design is not an after-thought; it is how he lives his life and it organically enters into the design, manufacturing process and packaging. He has been covered extensively in the world's design press and won international design awards. He has works in the permanent collections of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Sydney Powerhouse Museum, Te Papa Museum of New Zealand and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Charlotte Vick

Wednesday October 8th 10:30am – 11:30am

All ocean all the time & with marketing, environmental planning, tech industry experience in Gov & private sector 40+ years & counting...

Colin Wallis

Wednesday October 8th 11:45am – 12:45pm

Full-time parks advocate. Part-time runner, foodie, movie lover, bike nerd, 80's aficionado, ping-ponger, gardener & Sunday NYT Crossword puzzler.


Steve Wanta

Wednesday October 8th 10:30am – 11:30am

As the Global Program Director for Whole Foods Market’s foundation, Whole Planet Foundation, Steve is responsible for overseeing a portfolio of microfinance projects spanning 60 countries. Before joining the Foundation, he served in the Peace Corps in rural Guatemala. These experiences over the last 10 years have fueled Steve’s passion to create lasting opportunities for others to realize their own potential. He believes by giving, he receives more. Steve is an active member of Austin’s growing Social Innovation scene and is the cofounder of Center61, a collaborative workspace for the social good sector.