SSU Plays Leading Role in 9th Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference, April 30


The Sustainable Enterprise Conference is a day-long learning and networking conference dedicated to helping North Bay businesses, academic, government and non-profit organizations transition to economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
See the video from last year's conference at

Sonoma State University business faculty are playing a leading role in the 9th Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference (SEC), a day-long event beginning at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, April 30 at the Rohnert Park Sonoma Mountain Village. Dr. William Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics, will kick off the day with a welcome.

With the expertise of faculty presenters like keynote speaker, Sheryl O'Loughlin, former CEO of Clif Bar and now an SSU lecturer, an exciting panel from the Wine Business Institute and wine industry experts on ground-breaking initiatives, and innovative contributions from student leaders, the University that co-founded the conference is embracing its commitment to sustainability in the North Bay.

O'Loughlin, who is currently teaching an entrepreneurship course based on the "Lean Launchpad" model, will keynote with her session titled, "Reaching for Sustainability in Business: Try, Commit, Achieve".

"As co-founder of Plum, Inc. and CEO of Clif Bar, I learned what a positive impact a commitment to sustainability makes on a business, people and our planet. I learned that business could be an extremely powerful source of positive change," explained O'Loughlin. "I will be sharing my experiences of reaching for sustainability in business through trying, committing and achieving."

O'Loughlin will present along with other keynote speakers, Gil Philip Friend, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto, and Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power.

Ray Johnson, Director of Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute, and John Garn, President and Founder of ViewCraft and an Executive MBA faculty member, will join a wine industry panel with Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers, and Katie Jackson, Director of Sustainability and Community Outreach for Jackson Family Wines, to discuss the leading-edge commitment of Sonoma County to become "the first 100% sustainable wine region in the nation by 2019."

"Our goal is to educate, inspire, and provide the models of what the world could be."

- Professor Robert Girling

Student leaders of organizations like the Sonoma State Student Growers Cooperative, Dining Services, and Associated Students, will present their initiatives both on-campus and around the community. Students are also participating in hands-on learning in roles as marketing interns and event volunteers.

Sonoma State's commitment to the Sustainable Enterprise Conference goes back to its roots. Dr. Robert Girling, Professor of Business Administration, co-founded the event and is the current Program Director. "We needed something in the North Bay that was intimate, accessible and concerned with bringing businesses, the community, and the university together around opportunities of sustainability." Girling explained. "Our goal is to educate, inspire, and provide the models of what the world could be."

O'Loughlin added, "This conference creates a community of learning where (participants) can come together and share best and worst practices as well as inspire each other to share stories of success widely. This way, we can continue forward on a path to a more sustainable, just world for people, the planet and our businesses."

Register online to attend the conference at

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