About Our Speakers
Andra Yeghoian is the Environmental Literacy Coordinator at the San Mateo County Office of Education. She provides leadership in implementing a broad Environmental Literacy Initiative across San Mateo County. Andra has over 15 years of experience in education across public and private school systems, nationally and internationally, and has served in a variety of roles, including: Director of Sustainability, Secondary Humanities Teacher, Project Manager, Professional Development Facilitator, and Organizational Consultant. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and a Teaching Credential from UC Davis, and an MBA in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University (Presidio Graduate School) in Seattle, Washington.
Most recently, Andra’s work has focused on implementing visionary leadership for whole school/district/county wide environmental literacy efforts that take place across all facets of an institution: campus and operations, curriculum and instruction, community engagement, and organizational culture. Additionally, under her leadership she has supported school sites, districts, and county offices in achieving honors such as U.S. Department of Education and California Green Ribbon Award, Bay Area Green Business Certification, and LEED Platinum Certification for New Buildings.
The Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) has a long-standing reputation of high student achievement and has been acknowledged for its innovative learning opportunities. As Superintendent, Dr. Baird led the implementation of a one to one digital learning program, which includes a suite of digital curriculum, for all students and EUSD has been recognized for two consecutive terms as an Apple Distinguished Education Program. Dr. Baird’s leadership in green initiatives and environmental stewardship has garnered state and national recognition for the district’s conservation efforts, including selection by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Green Ribbon District. In addition, EUSD has developed and implemented an award-winning, comprehensive Health and Wellness Program that incorporates yoga and character education classes for all students.
Christos Chrysiliou is the Director of Architectural & Engineering (A&E) Services for the Facilities Services Division of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Christos is a licensed Architect, a Certified Construction Manager (CCM), and a LEED AP BD + C with experience in architectural planning, design, sustainability and construction. He is responsible for several programs at LAUSD including: the energy efficiency program (Prop 39), water & energy conservation, sustainability initiatives, emerging technologies, education and awareness. In addition, he manages the District’s energy and utilities budget. The A&E department has a team of 104 professionals and utilizes over 150 professional firms to manage over 300 projects annually. The A&E team utilizes ecological design principles to develop healthy and environmental friendly campuses. His design, architectural and sustainability expertise has greatly benefited K-12 facilities districtwide. LAUSD is the 2nd largest District in the United States and has 1,270 schools and centers, 13,500 buildings on 6,478 acres of land and has an approximate student enrollment of 650,000. Christos’ vision is to develop balanced educational environments that utilize sustainable systems that protect and restore our natural resources and enhance our wellbeing.
Ida Clair began serving as acting State Architect in January 2019.
She concurrently serves as Principal Architect for the Division of the State Architect, where she manages the accessibility, sustainability, and fire & life safety programs for public K-12 schools and community colleges, directs CALGreen and Access Code regulatory development, and administers the Certified Access Specialist (CASp) Program.
Prior to that, she served as the CASp Program’s first technical administrator where she established the program’s professional practice standards and provides examination and training development.
Ida has twenty-six years’ experience in private architectural practice where she specialized in affordable and sustainable multifamily residential facilities, and provided accessibility compliance surveys and third-party plan reviews. As a certified access specialist, Ida was instrumental in the creation of the Certified Access Specialist Institute in 2010.
Clair has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Southern California and is a registered architect.
Amy Cortese is the Program Director at New Buildings Institute (NBI). Throughout her career, Amy has been involved sustainable design, green building and energy efficiency market transformation. At NBI, Amy is responsible for managing project implementation teams covering all aspects NBI’s work including advanced new and existing buildings, code and policy innovation and zero energy market development and leadership.
John Dale has been planning, programming and designing educational environments for over 25 years. In 2007, he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for this focus. By defining small learning communities which boost student achievement and galvanize community involvement, he creates high performance learning environments that are widely recognized models of regional and national significance. Mr. Dale also promotes green schools. Building on evidence-based research, he puts in practice the theory that students are healthier and learn more effectively in sustainable, resilient environments. As Principal, and Pre-K–12 Studio Leader for Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED), a national Architecture and Engineering firm, John’s projects have been honored with numerous awards at national, state and local levels. He has taught at USC, MIT, UCLA, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and participated in symposia, design reviews and competition juries. His articles and projects have appeared in books and journals, including: Green Technology Magazine, LA Architect (Form Magazine), Learning by Design, Spazio e Società, Architectural Record, Faith & Form, the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design Newsletter (online) and CNN Style. John has just completed his term as Chair of the Leadership Group of AIA’s National Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) and now sits on the Board of the CAE Foundation. He is also a member and Past-President of the Board of Directors of the A+D (Architecture and Design) Museum, Los Angeles; sits on the Board of Directors for HED; is a member of the Advisory Board of the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and Co-Founder of the North American Open Building Council.
Mr. Gallegos is a serial entrepreneur – “problems are just opportunities for new solutions”. Just when he thought of retiring the California drought hit and his awareness of the growing water scarcity globally. Now Mr. Gallegos team at Grey4Green.Com are uncovering creative solutions for a sustainable urban future with the ultimate goal of Net Positive Buildings. Current innovation Aquifer Pipe for greywater reuse and Atmospheric Water Generation for toilet flushing. Mr. Gallegos speaks at conference globally on Net Zero/Positive Water Building Design.
Hernán supports SEI’s communications, K-12 educational programming across California and the Climate Corps program.
Prior to joining SEI, Hernán developed a background in environmental justice and water conservation through his positions at the Robert Redford Conservancy, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Long Beach Water Department. Through his position at a water department, Hernán supported California’s largest lawn conversion program to promote water conservation and sustainability in Southern California. Previously, Hernán served at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s Office of Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs where he worked on educational and workforce development programming geared toward communities impacted by lead pollution in Southeast Los Angeles.
Hernán has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Policy with a focus on social justice and a minor in French from Pitzer College.
Bernadet Garcia-Silva, MPH is the Project Manager for the Los Angeles County Food Redistribution Initiative (LACFRI), a multi-stakeholder initiative housed within the LA County Department of Public Health – Environmental Health Division. Bernadet holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Health Policy and a master’s degree in Public Health from UC Irvine. She previously managed the Waste Not OC coalition in Orange County and worked for the Tohono O’Odham Nation’s Department of Health Services in Arizona. Bernadet has created educational materials and trained LA County health inspectors, school food service directors, recycling coordinators, nonprofits, businesses, and others on food waste, source reduction, and best practices for food donation since 2016. To learn more about LACFRI, visit SavetheFoodLA.com.
As a founding principal at Argento/Graham, Duke directs all commissioning and energy related services. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of California, a Certified Building Commissioning Professional, and a certified HERS rater. Prior to co-founding Argento/Graham, Duke led the energy department at Gaia, where he successfully oversaw a team of engineers and commissioned a large portfolio of projects, including office buildings and tenant improvements, retail, medical office buildings, industrial facilities and multifamily residential projects. He has commissioned projects for companies such as Google, Eataly, Steelcase, and Universal Music Group, as well as dozens of speculative developments slated for office, retail, warehousing and logistics. Duke works closely with owners, design teams, and contractors to optimize building design and prioritize and protect investments in strategies that will have the greatest effect on building energy use and cost. He holds a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego. Duke is a member of the Green Schools Committee at USGBC Los Angeles.
John Kamp is an urban and landscape designer, educator, facilitator, and licensed landscape contractor (CA #1039171). He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, and a master’s degree in urban planning and design from UCLA. He has over 15 years of experience in the design and installation of irrigation-free landscapes (he is the creator of the first irrigation-free landscape in the state of Minnesota), work in urban tree canopy restoration, pollinator habitat creation, and the design of walkable neighorhoods. He is also an experienced facilitator and educator who has conducted trainings and workshops to a range of audiences and age groups on water conservation and irrigation-free landscaping, as well as on how urban design and land-use influence sustainability outcomes.
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles in 2001 I decided to put my degree in Marketing and the experience I gained working for an ad agency in San Francisco to better use by promoting environmental awareness at a time when it was badly needed.
Over the years I have taught sustainability workshops, produced a film and a website about climate change, researched and published a guide to green businesses in LA, SF and NYC, and served as Recycling Specialist for the City of Burbank.
I am currently the Sustainability Manager for Santa Monica College where I get to work with faculty, students and Facilities to keep the institution’s sustainability leadership position strong among the community colleges in California.
Dr. Tony Knight is superintendent of the Oak Park Unified School District in Ventura County and has served as a public school teacher and administrator for 39 years. The Oak Park School District, under his leadership, was named the first U.S. Green Ribbon School District in California and one of a handful in the nation based on a commitment to environmental education and sustainable practices. Tony is a scuba diver and sailor and holds a PADI Master Diver certification. He is an underwater photographer and has an active interest in ocean conservation issues and serves on the NOAA Channel Islands National Martine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Dr. Knight is an environmentalist and animal welfare advocate. He and his wife, Nancy, enjoy traveling and exploring the world, especially areas set aside for protection and conservation.
Project Analyst, New Buildings Institute. Reilly supports the project management team on various projects including the Prop 39 Zero Net Energy School Retrofit work in California, as well as other K-12 schools related work. The program’s focus is on drastic energy reduction via zero net energy retrofits and vigorous occupant engagement programs. Reilly also designs and develops NBI workshops, public engagement materials, and other technical and market transformation resources. Prior to joining NBI she worked for the Integrated Design Lab and Washington Green Schools doing research and energy analysis, developing and maintaining databases, as well as designing energy focused curriculum for K-12 schools. Reilly also has a background in finance and lending as a result of her work as a sustainability consultant for a Real Estate Investment Trust in Los Angeles, CA where she was the USGBC-LA Green Schools Co-Chair for all of Los Angeles County. She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Geophysics, Environmental Science and Resource Management from the University of Washington and holds certifications and licenses in Real Estate, ArcGIS, LEED and is a Green Classroom Professional (GCP).
Lena Luna serves as the El Monte Union High School District Facility & Energy Manager managing energy performance operations district-wide; creating district standards; engaging in project development; and, cultivating collaboration. Overseeing six high schools and related district infrastructure, Lena is responsible for recommending the best course of action for operational energy excellence and executing. One of Lena’s unique approaches incorporates research and education through use of real data and occupant feedback to assess indoor environments. Some of her key project roles include managing the $11 million solar PV project and closing out the $2.4 million Proposition 39 energy bond project. In Lena’s free time, she enjoys reading, writing, photography, playing guitar, and exploring the CA deserts and mountains. She also is committed to mentoring emerging professionals to pursue STEM careers. Lastly, Lena completed her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine and her Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Strategy at Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, UT. She also holds credentials as a Certified Energy Manager and LEED Green Associate.
For more than two decades, Nicole has been an advocate for the environment and human health. Her mission is to guide the next generation into meaningful action.
Nicole graduated the Sustainability Certificate Program at UCLA, June 2017 and prior completed Climate Reality Leadership training under Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corp.
A marketing and sustainability professional, Nicole has ten years of experience with hospitality brands, consumer brands, clean technology, green building products and non-profit clients. Nicole firmly believes that marketing, best practices and social responsibility is bigger than your own brand. It’s now about the planet, the next generation and your business having a higher purpose. This is the base where she guides her clients today.
Nicole co-founded the non-profit, Community Healing Gardens (CHG) whose mission is to foster community and the growing of local food systems through urban gardening. Spearheading she is focuses on underserved communities and the next generation in these areas of Los Angeles.
“It’s all about taking care of one another, caring for our planet, and making a profit while doing so – no one can survive without the other. If you don’t think so, then look around and tell me what you see.”
Artist/educator Trena Noval uses Integrated Learning pedagogies and strategies through program design and leadership development in both public and non-profit educational sectors. She is part of the Integrated Learning Department at Alameda County Office of Education where she currently leads a research leadership initiative in collaboration with UB Berkeley Principal Leadership Institute that examines sustainability potentials with school leaders who are building arts centered learning schools. Noval has published models for Art 21 arts learning case studies, that focus on arts integration through the themes of community and environmental stewardship. She has received numerous awards and grants for her work in arts education, and has worked with the Gretchen LeBuhn and The Great Sunflower Project since 2011, supporting community based citizen science in schools. As an artist, Noval’s creative practice engages participatory research strategies, generosity, cross-disciplinary platforms and social engagement. At the heart of her work is the investigation of the intersections of social and natural ecologies. She is founding member of transnational artist collective, 3rd Space Lab Collective and participatory research group Fieldworks Collaborative, examining the intersections of culture and land. Her collaborative work has been exhibited, experienced and performed internationally.
Nancee Robles is the Acting Executive Director and former Chief Deputy Executive Director and Chief Compliance Officer for the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) a division of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. In this role, Nancee oversees IBank’s direct lending Infrastructure State Revolving Fund, Bond transactions, and the Small Business Finance Center. Prior to joining IBank, Nancee worked for the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), and the State Treasurer’s Office. Prior to her State service Nancee spent over 30 years in the private sector banking industry. Nancee earned a Bachelor of Science from California State University at Sacramento and an Executive MBA from California State University at Monterey Bay.
Mary Ruppenthal is a Principal with DLR Group and brings a swiss army knife skillset in design, construction, project management and firm leadership experience with 23 years of professional architectural practice and expertise in California K-12 projects. Mary specializes in providing innovative, sustainably responsible, high performance and integrated educational environments that both elevate and enhance user engagement and experience and maximize efficiency. As the offspring of a Contractor/Inspector father and a crafty/professional volunteer mother, a childhood surrounded by tools, drawings, handmade objects and social responsibility instilled a keen interest in design, building and an understanding of the necessary interplay of community, poetry and precision in the built environment. Mary is a licensed architect and holds a Master of Architecture degree from UC-Berkeley and a Bachelor of Science degree from UW-Milwaukee. She is also a mentor for architecture and engineering students and a former Board Member of the American Society of Engineers and Architects, Los Angeles Chapter. Using both research and project work as a basis, Mary frequently presents on high performance building design process and integrated educational sustainable environments including GreenBuild and AutoDesk University (AU) – Mumbai, India.
Lisa Silverman was appointed as Executive Officer of OPSC in March 2012 (acting from January 2010 to appointment). She serves as Chief Policy advisor for the School Facility Program. During her tenure, Lisa has emphasized building strong relationships/deliver strong customer service to ensure that all Local Educational Agencies are successful in accessing the School Facility Program; awarding over $9.1 billion in program grants. Lisa has over 33 years of public service; attended California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), Cosumnes River College, Leadership for Government Executives at CSUS; serves as a Treasurer for a non-profit; serves on the Green California Summit Advisory Board, and has received awards (Latinas Information Sciences and Technology Association) and recognitions (CA Latino School Board Association and Governor’s Military Council) for her commitment to public service.
As the Zero Waste Manager of the SFUSD, Darya Soofi works to mitigate the generation of waste at schools district and achieve an 85% waste diversion rate by 2025. In addition to her zero waste responsibilities, Darya supports climate change education and leadership opportunities for youth through her work with the CTE Energy, Environment and Utilities pathway. She also co-manages a district-wide sustainability engagement program, the Earth Day Every Day Challenge.
Since 2005, Andre Villasenor has been fulfilling EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. He specializes in sustainable materials management, with an emphasis on excess food prevention, recovery and recycling.
Mr. Villasenor holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.A. in International Relations.
In his spare time, he enjoys weight-lifting, playing the harmonica and cooking plant-based cuisine.