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2023 Breakout Sessions

Morning Breakout 1 
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Grand Ballroom 

For Us, By Us:
Collective Hope for Neighborhood Resilience

From participating in City of Cincinnati’s climate action plan to supporting the City’s first Ecodistrict, community members in the neighborhoods of Lower Price Hill, Bond Hill, Roselawn North Fairmount, and South Cumminsville have risen as climate justice leaders and advocates for healthy, equitable, and resilient neighborhoods. In this discussion session, brought to you by the Climate Safe Neighborhoods Partnership, local leaders who have gone through the Climate Advisory Group cohort will share their hopes and perspectives on climate resilience, neighborhood planning, community leadership and trust.

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Anthony Smith

Green Corps Crew Lead - Groundwork Ohio River Valley

Anthony Smith is one of the Crew Leads for the Green Corps at Groundwork Ohio River Valley. He is a high school graduate, clean water certified , and is a member of the Beekman Corridor Climate Advisory Group. He has worked at Groundwork as a Green Corps member for about 4-5 years now and loves the job, the people, and making a change in the community.

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Darryl Franklin

Resident Leader - North Fairmount Neighborhood

Darryl Franklin has lived in North Fairmount since 1967. He is a US Navy veteran, a retired sheet metal worker and musician. He served as North Fairmount Community Council President for 5 years(1987-1992). He has a B.A. in Organizational Leadership (University of Cincinnati, 2010).

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Darlene Capell

Resident Leader - North Fairmount Neighborhood

Darlene Capell is a Graduate of Taft High School with Associate degrees in Management and Marketing. She has 33 years of service with the City of Cincinnati, 2 yrs retired and is member of New Prospect Church, a board member of Communities United of Action (CUFA), and a member of the North Fairmount Community Council. She is also involved with the following groups: Port Authority - Dollar lots program, Beekman Street Coalition, Climate Advisory Group, CUFA Stormwater - Overland Flooding program.

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Marisha Davis

Resident Leader  - Lower Price Hill Neighborhood

Marisha Davis has been a resident in Lower Price Hill for 6 years serving as an ambassador and leader for her community. She has worked as the Deli Lead at Mesiers Grocery & Deli since its starting and currently serves on the Neighborhood Action Team, Community Matters Board, and is the Lower Price Hill Neighborhood Liaison for Groundwork Ohio River Valley.

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Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson (Moderator)

Community & Climate Resilience Program Director  - Groundwork Ohio River Valley

Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson (she/her) is the Community & Climate Resilience Program Director at Groundwork Ohio River Valley. She has been involved with climate advocacy at both the national and international scale working to center frontline communities in decision- making through policy, research and grassroots organizing. At Groundwork, she leads the Climate Safe Neighborhoods program development and community climate resilience organizing. She holds a BA in Anthropology with a focus on ecological relationships and community development. Prior to Groundwork, she was a Sustainability Fellow with the City of Cincinnati leading energy efficiency efforts.

Junior Ballroom B

Food Waste Solutions and Strategies Across Ohio

In the United States—where more than 40 percent of food goes uneaten—food waste contributes to extensive environmental, economic, and societal impacts, generating greenhouse gas emissions equal to 58 million passenger vehicles annually, costing the U.S. $408 billion each year, and consuming roughly 20 percent of America’s cropland, fertilizer, and fresh water. Most of this uneaten food ends up in landfills, where it accounts for the largest proportion of trash. Meanwhile, more than 30 million Americans—approximately one in eight—struggle to put nutritious food on the table. Thankfully, municipalities across Ohio are showing leadership on food waste reduction. Cincinnati, in partnership with Hamilton County R3source and Columbus, in partnership with the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) are working on innovative solutions to prevent wasted food, rescue and redistribute surplus food, and recycle remaining food scraps.


This panel discussion will feature representatives from both regions, highlighting the importance of innovative partnerships, cross-agency collaboration, and strategy solutions across different sectors offering attendees tangible strategies that can be replicated and scaled in communities across the Midwest.

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Tony Staubach 

Food Waste Diversion Coordinator - Hamilton County R3source

Tony seeks to inspire peace by helping good people do great things. Through his work as the Food Waste Diversion Coordinator with Hamilton County R3Source, Tony has been able to; support education efforts in marginalized communities to maximize purchasing power, partner with agencies to divert edible food scrap to people who need it most and incubate opportunities to expand food scrap collection services. Tony holds an M.S. in Public Policy and a B.A. in History and Education.

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Robin Henderson

Program Manager, Office of Sustainability and Environment - City of Cincinnati

Robin has been active in a variety of food system work, including managing the City’s Urban Agriculture Program, creation of and serving on the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, and participation in NRDC’s Food Matters Great Lakes Cohort. OES has just completed the 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan (GCP), and over the next several years Robin will be working on implementing various strategies and action steps to support numerous GCP food and waste goals.

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Karima Samadi 

Policy Analyst, Food Systems - Center for Public Health Innovation, Columbus Public Health

Karima has engaged in food systems work for over 15 years, in various programs ranging from child obesity prevention, to food and agricultural education, to food security research. She supports the work of the Columbus and Franklin County Local Food Action Plan, and works to address racism as a public health crisis through policy and system change.


Andrew Booker

Programs Manager - SWACO

Andrew Booker is the Program Manager at the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO). Andrew is involved in a wide variety of programs that SWACO implements, including community curbside recycling, public education, grant programs, business recycling, and SWACO’s food waste initiative. Prior to coming to SWACO, Andrew worked at Ohio EPA for over 20 years where he managed the statewide solid waste planning program, which involved establishing statewide recycling goals and working with solid waste management districts and communities throughout Ohio to reach those goals.

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Madeline Keating (Moderator) 

Food Matters Initiative Lead, City Strategist - NRDC

Madeline leads the NRDC Food Matters initiative which partners with cities to achieve meaningful reductions in food waste through comprehensive policies and programs. Keating approaches food and waste work with an equitable systems-wide lens, advocating for community-based solutions that rethink the problem of wasted food. She has a background in economics and urban and regional planning and is based out of Washington, DC.

Junior Ballroom A

Leadership in Electrification: The City Perspective

Acceleration of electric vehicle adoption imagines a future with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better local air quality, and enhanced national security. Furthermore, pursuing electrification at the municipal level lends unique and creative solutions to resiliency that all community members may benefit from, like vehicle-to-grid capability, electrified transit systems, and backup battery options. Building off work from the American Cities Climate Challenge, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis are driving transportation electrification to imagine this cleaner and more resilient future. In this panel, the Electrification Coalition, a nonprofit committed to driving transportation electrification, convenes local government experts to discuss their transportation journeys.


While reflective, the discussion will also dive into what these cities see in the future. Key discussion points include:

  • What did your electrification priorities look like in the past? What about now?

  • What does community interest in electrification look like?

  • What stakeholders are vital in advancing transportation electrification?

  • How do you see electrification playing a role in resiliency?

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Mo McReynolds

Senior Project Manager, Office of Sustainability - City of Indianapolis

Mo McReynolds uses she/her pronouns and is a native of Indianapolis. She has been with the Office of Sustainability (OOS) since 2019 and serves OOS as Senior Project Manager. In this role, she primarily manages the implementation of the city’s sustainability and resilience plan (Thrive Indianapolis), right-of-way improvement through tree planting and litter cleanups, solid waste policy, air quality programs, EV charging infrastructure projects, and electric vehicle education and advocacy. Mo also serves on the boards of Groundwork Indy, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, and Central Indiana Women’s Soccer League.

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Rob McCracken

Energy Manager, Office of Environment and Sustainability - City of Cincinnati

Rob McCracken serves as the Energy Manager in the City of Cincinnati’s Office of Environment & Sustainability. His work focuses on implementing the climate action goals contained in the Green Cincinnati Plan by procuring renewable sources of energy, improving the energy efficiency of facilities, and transitioning to a zero-emission fleet. Rob has a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University and a Master of Public Affairs from the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

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Bethany Bella

Building and Energy Coordinator - City of Columbus

Bethany is a passionate sustainability advocate who envisions a just and vibrant future for all. Her work supports equitable solutions and is guided by community-based planning and intersectional climate justice. A proud Central Ohio resident, Bethany supports the sustainability efforts rooted in the Columbus region with the City of Columbus’ Sustainable Columbus team. As the Building and Energy Coordinator, Bethany supports the implementation of the buildings-section strategies in the Columbus Climate Action Plan, with a focus on increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Columbus region. She received her Master of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University and her Bachelor of Specialized Studies from Ohio University. View her complete portfolio of work at:

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Jessica Stoll (Moderator)

Program Associate - Electrification Coalition

Jessica is passionate about forging a cleaner and more equitable future for our planet and people. She serves as a program associate at the Electrification Coalition, a national nonprofit focused on driving electrification policy and programs at scale. In her role, she provides technical assistance to municipalities, supports the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, and implements programming to drive electrification. She also has expertise in broader sustainability work, having held positions with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council and the City of Indianapolis Office of Sustainability before joining the Electrification.

Junior Ballroom C

Taking Sustainability Within
Companies to the Next Level
Through Worker Ownership

How do we build businesses of the future that can effectively respond to changes in our climate, technology, and markets over upcoming generations? How can we build businesses that serve  people and the planet while generating profit?


Hear from leaders of Cincinnati's worker-owned business movement in the industries of local food (Our Harvest, Growing Black Power, Queen Mothers Market), energy efficiency and generation (Sustainergy), nature-based childcare (Shine Nurture Center), and waste reduction/composting (Queen City Commons) as they share how their business models will allow them to become businesses of the future. These leaders will discuss how worker and community ownership are helping transform our community and create climate justice with equity and inclusion, a green workforce, just and food-secure communities, and a a healthy and resilient world for the long haul. 

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Flequer Vera

CEO - Sustainergy Cooperative

Flequer is the CEO and co-founder of the Sustainergy Cooperative, which is a worker-owned business in the energy efficiency, insulation, and solar industry. He is also a Co-founder of the non-profit cooperative business incubator, Coop Cincy. Flequer grew up in an entrepreneurial family and is passionate about creating worker-owned businesses. He is proud to have graduated from University of Cincinnati College of Business with a Degree in Finance. Flequer also serves on the City of Cincinnati’s 5 Year Green Plan steering committee and has recently been asked to advise the White House and US Department of Labor on building power for working class families through worker-ownership as well as the “Good Jobs” national campaign. Flequer is originally from Lima, Peru and in his free time he loves to travel, dance, volunteer in the community, and spend time with his family.

Trisha Hay

Founding Worker Owner - Shine Nurture Center Cooperative

Trisha is the Lead Preschool Teacher and a Co-Owner of the Shine Nurture Center Cooperative, a nature based, Montessori infused early education child care center. Trisha has a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education and has recently completed a 3-6 Montessori Certificate Program at GCCME. Trisha is also a Certified Children's Yoga Instructor and the mom of 2 daughters, 2 dogs and a cat.

Julia Marchese

Co-Founder - Queen City Commons

Happy to be back in their home of Southwestern Ohio after living in wintry Northeastern Ohio and New England, Julia is a former academic getting their hands dirty with compost. With their social sciences and interdisciplinary education, Julia brings an enthusiasm and knowledge of community-centered work and alternative ways of living and working to ensure that composting can become a norm in our Cincinnati community. In addition to their Community Engagement and Marketing work with QCC, Julia's soul is nourished through gardening and cooking, camping and hiking, singing and speaking Spanish, and finding creative ways to reduce waste in their home.

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Mona Jenkins

Co-Founder - Queen Mother's Market

Mona M. Jenkins is an educator and organizer who graduated from the University of Cincinnati, where she studied Educational Foundations for Social Change. She actively works with community members to address neighborhood-specific issues related to health, gender, housing, and education. In collaborating with leaders and individuals, Mona seeks to build engagement, empowerment, and community sustainable solutions. As the Cooperative Food Justice Coordinator, Mona coordinates with residents to address food insecurity within their neighborhoods through equitable, community-centered approaches. Mona enjoys gardening, traveling, and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.

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Kristen Barker (Moderator)

Co-Director - Co-op Cincy

Kristen Barker is a social entrepreneur and the Co-Director of Co-op Cincy. She leads up the design and is the lead facilitator for Co-op Cincy’s educational courses including Co-op U (a 14 week co-op development course), the Cooperative Management Certificate in partnership with the Xavier Leadership Center, and Co-op Cincy’s proprietary co-op culture building curriculum embodied in the Worker Owner Workbook. Kristen serves as the organization's chief visionary and systems change thinker, relentlessly bringing inspiration and pushing what is possible to the worker co-op movement in Cincinnati and beyond. Before becoming a Co-Director at Co-op Cincy, she worked for 12 years fostering partnerships between people of faith, union members, and community members of diverse backgrounds. Kristen is a graduate of Xavier University and a lifelong Cincinnati resident—except for two years in El Salvador! Kristen is a single mother of a resilient daughter with special needs.

Junior Ballroom D

Corporate Real Estate Decarbonization - From Strategy to Action

Corporations and institutions face many options when it comes to meeting their climate commitments and decarbonizing their buildings. The biggest current obstacle is figuring out how all the parts fit together and the best tactics that will provide substantial progress against your goals. This session will share insight on how corporations and institutions can implement a strategic, cohesive, and analytical approach to decarbonization, and will also provide perspective on the financial market drivers.


How can decarbonization efforts enhance: 1) strategic and master planning, 2) facility design, construction, and management, 3) financial performance, 4) resilience and reliability, and 5) alignment with regulators, investors, customers and employees? And how can you measure these integrated results?

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Doug Sitton

Sr. Principle - IMEG

Doug Sitton is a licensed professional engineer, and a Sr. Principal and Client Executive leading the strategic direction of IMEG’s building performance and analytics services. Doug has 40 years of experience with clients of various types and sizes and is known for his track record of helping organizations drive sustainable performance and growth. Through his leadership, strategic thinking, and complex problem-solving skills, he helps clients assess, achieve, and sustain optimum performance of their real estate portfolio.

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Steve Winbigler

Global Technical Director, Facility Systems - Procter & Gamble Company

Steve has worked at Procter & Gamble for 35 years in a variety of Engineering, Manufacturing, Project Management, and Facilities Assignments. In his current role Steve is responsible for the performance of the Facilities Systems at P&G’s Corporate Offices and Innovation Centers. These responsibilities include Facilities Design, System Performance, and Energy Management. Currently he is involved in a number of technology efforts to optimize the facilities footprint, improve systems performance and convert the facility operating strategy from “Run to Schedule” to “Run to Demand”.

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Christina O’Keeffe

Executive Director - Ohio Air Quality Development Authority

Christina O’Keeffe serves as the Executive Director of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA). She was appointed to the position by the Authority members in October 2018 and provides the strategic direction in fulfilling the mission of the Authority as an independent, non-regulatory agency, providing financial and technical assistance on projects that harmonize a strong economy and a healthy environment. O’Keeffe is a recognized energy and air quality expert with 20 years of leadership experience. She brings to OAQDA extensive knowledge in sustainability, economic development, policy and financing. Prior to joining OAQDA, O’Keeffe served as the Director of Energy and Air Quality for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and held several leadership positions in the Ohio Energy Office located in the Ohio Department of Development. She received her B.S. degree in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University.

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Joshua Brugeman

Co-Founder and Managing Partner - Fresh Coast Climate Solutions

Joshua is an experienced, passionate, and sustainability-focused executive with multi-stakeholder expertise in ESG, CSR, circular economy and Cleantech. Joshua founded Fresh Coast Climate Solutions, a consultancy focused on helping clients navigate a path toward bold sustainability and climate action. Previously, he built and ran a sustainability consulting team at NSF International and was a Director at NextEnergy, a clean energy accelerator, where he focused on helping companies commercialize and deploy advanced technologies in the building, lighting and energy storage space. He’s led solutions with clients such as Patagonia, McDonalds, Denso, Bosch, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Restaurant Brands International, and Cytiva – ranging across industries from manufacturing and commercial buildings to food and textiles – to create resilient supply chains, commercialize products, build brand integrity, and address stakeholder (both investor and consumer) concerns. Joshua holds both a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree from the University of Michigan where he focused on sustainability, land use, and urban planning.

Morning Breakout 2 
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Grand Ballroom 

Connecting the Dots:
Linking Housing and Environmental Justice

This panel is going back to the basics to discuss the fundamental principles at the heart of the intersection of equity and sustainability and how Cincinnati is working to get there. Housing and transportation are innately related to housing location, and typology dictates how people choose to travel, and how people can reasonably travel dictates what type of housing choices they make. This intertwined relationship is at the core of a city’s social mobility and it’s communal carbon footprint.


Public transportation produces significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions per mile than private vehicles, and having a robust, diverse transportation system reduces income inequality. Therefore, the built form of our housing ecosystem informs the success of our public and active transportation systems, which has a direct impact on our equity and sustainability goals. These foundational choices are hidden in plain sight, and this panel will intentionally discuss how Cincinnati is addressing its sustainability, and justice goals through its housing policy.

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Mark Jeffreys

Council Member - City of Cincinnati

Mark is a resident of Clifton with his wife Pamela and four kids. The son of an immigrant, Mark grew up working poor, and worked his way through college at the University of Chicago with a union laborer job. After college, Mark went on to work on Capitol Hill and then in Asia before getting his MBA from Georgetown University. Mark spent over 16 years at Procter & Gamble. While at P&G, Mark led brands such as Pampers and Gillette. He left P&G 5 years ago to launch his first start-up, which he sold in July 2020. He then launched 4Sight Advantage, which is a machine learning capability that predicts “villain and hero” ingredients for large companies. He still runs 4Sight Advantage today. On City Council, Mark has focused on building a Safer, Cleaner & Greener Cincinnati and serves as Vice Chair of the Climate, Environment & Infrastructure Committee.

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Reggie Harris

Council Member - City of Cincinnati 

Reggie Harris, MSW, LISW-S, is a Cincinnati City Councilmember, chairing the Budget and Finance committee and vice-chairing the Equitable Growth & Housing Committee. A former professional ballet dancer with ten years of performing experience, he danced for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet Austin, River North Chicago Dance Company, and Dances Patrelle. Reggie spent four years working in Chicago’s first public performing arts high school, developing and teaching aspiring young dancers. Reggie has worked in affordable housing development, LGBTQ homelessness, housing case management, and behavioral health therapy. In addition to his council work, Reggie is a Senior Fellow at the Children’s Funding Project, where he helps local governments expand equitable opportunities for children and youth through strategic public financing. Reggie also is a consultant with EJP Consulting Group. He supports cities in applying for the competitive Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Initiative grants.

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Pete Metz

Vice President, Civic & Regional Partnerships - Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

As the Vice President of Civic & Regional Partnerships for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Pete Metz is responsible for connecting the Cincinnati Chamber and its members to the region’s most pressing civic and regional Initiatives. Metz has led the business community’s efforts to expand investments in transportation that connects people to jobs, education, healthcare and all that the Cincinnati region has to offer. Metz has successfully advocated for local, state, and federal policies that have driven hundreds of millions of dollars into transportation projects across the Cincinnati region, including the Brent Spence Bridge, Western Hills Viaduct, record state funding for public transit, investments in the CROWN trail network, and more. In the community, Metz serves on the board of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), the Corporation for Findlay Market, OKI Regional Council of Governments and as the Board President for NEST, Northside’s community development corporation.

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Elizabeth Blume 

Principal - Blume Community Partners 

Liz Blume is the principal at Blume Community Partners. She was the Director of the Community Building Institute (CBI) for almost 20 years. She is a planning professional with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Liz has led research efforts on important issues facing many metropolitan areas today including affordable housing, urban education, land use, community and economic development, equity, and community engagement. Liz has been the Co-Director of a master’s program in Urban Sustainability and Resilience at Xavier University and also served as the Planning Director in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

Junior Ballroom A 

Bolstering Climate Resilience:
The Cincinnati Biochar Project

Cincinnati aims to lead the country in the battle against climate change by becoming one of the first US Cities to produce biochar, an exciting technology for removing carbon from the atmosphere and improving the environment. Through an innovative new collaboration between the City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Park Board, Great Parks of Hamilton County, University of CIncinnati, and Carbon Harvest LLC, the Cincinnati Biochar Project project will convert wood waste into a vital resource.

Cincinnati’s biochar material will be used in new tree plantings to increase survivability and canopy growth within Cincinnati communities, especially those most at risk from climate change. In the soil, biochar improves drought tolerance, promotes soil health, limits runoff, immobilizes contaminants, and reduces methane, CO2 emissions, and odors in compost. Once up and running, Cincinnati will repurpose thousands of tons of wood waste into biochar a year, which will keep tons of CO2 out of the local environment.

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Sam Dunlap

Founder - Carbon Harvest LLC

Sam Dunlap founded Carbon Harvest LLC in 2020 with the mission of creating soil amendment products that impact climate change by diverting waste, removing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the soil. His company has been selected as the operator and manager for the Cincinnati Biochar Project, which is slated to begin production at the end of 2023. The project addresses environmental justice, city-wide sustainability goals, urban canopy and woodland restoration, waste reduction, climate resilience, and youth education/workforce development through an elegant and collaborative solution.

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Stephanie Bacher (she/her)

Sustainability Coordinator - Great Parks of Hamilton County 

Stephanie Bacher, Great Parks’ Sustainability Coordinator, manages waste reduction programs and education, as well as resource usage and reduction at all 22 park destinations across Hamilton County. Additionally, Stephanie is finalizing Great Parks’ first Sustainability Strategic Plan, and serves as Great Park’s representative for the biochar collaboration with Cincinnati Park Board. Stephanie also manages Great Park destinations that are participating in Cincinnati’s 2030 District within Winton Woods, Sharon Woods, and Little Miami Golf Center. In addition to nearly 10 years of professional experience in the waste reduction field, Stephanie earned a Master of Arts degree in Urban Sustainability and Resilience from Xavier University where she is currently an Adjunct Professor teaching Managing for Sustainability, a course that provides an overview of the issues faced by business managers related to the topic of triple bottom line sustainability; economic vitality, environmental stewardship, and corporate social responsibility.

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Amy Townsend-Small

 Professor, Department of Geosciences - University of Cincinnati

Amy Townsend-Small is a professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Cincinnati. She is a climate scientist who makes measurements of greenhouse gases including methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide from human systems and also studies how climate change may be affecting natural emissions of these gases. She and her students work on community engaged research toward greenhouse gas emissions reductions, water quality, and air quality including in environmental justice communities. In addition to her teaching and research at UC, she works with the Biden-Harris Administration at the US Department of State as a Climate Advisor.

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Crystal Courtney

Division Manager, Natural Resources Division - Cincinnati Park Board

With over ten years of experience in natural resource management, Crystal is a municipal leader overseeing the care of Cincinnati's urban canopy, park forests restoration, natural surface trail system, right of way beautification, and environmental education programming. Crystal and her staff work in collaboration fellow city departments and community-based organizations, to implement nature based solutions to climate change, enhance community access to greenspace, and educate the public through data driven natural resource management to build an environmentally just, climate resilient city, in which Cincinnati’s most at risk neighborhoods have equitable access to greenspaces and ecosystem services.

Junior Ballroom B 

2023 Farm Bill:
What Is the Impact at the Regional Level?

At the end of September 2023, Congress will vote on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, a series of programmatic directives and budgetary adjustments related to the topics of the USDA, agriculture, supplementary nutrition incentives, regional food system infrastructure (including farmers markets and distribution supply chains), and farmland conservation. The decisions made at the federal level will impact the regional food systems in the Midwest.


Representatives from the Kentucky Food Action Network (KFAN), Community Farm Alliance (CFA), and Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN) will provide grounded examples of how the decisions

made in the 2023 Farm Bill will impact the regional food systems in the Midwest. The representatives will speak for fifteen minutes before starting the interactive portion of the session. 


Through this workshop, attendees will be able to advocate and submit comments in real-time through a guided writing session, submissions of comments to Congress Committees on Agriculture, and emails to their representatives. Community Farm Alliance and the Kentucky Food Action Network (KFAN) have proven experience with storytelling in their advocacy efforts, and they will facilitate advocacy tools using such skills. 

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Tania Whitfield

Member of the Steering Committee - Kentucky Food Action Network (KFAN)

Tania Whitfield is from Lexington, Kentucky, has represented KFAN as a member of the Steering Committee since 2021, and is a mom of two princesses. She is attending the Summit to discuss her experience with SNAP benefits and the Farm Bill. Being a mom of two princesses, it is vital for her to have access to SNAP benefits to keep them healthy and fed. Tania doesn’t like being called "low-income" because as she says, "ain’t nothing low about us. We are just struggling and doing our best with what we have." She received her GED in December 2022 and registered for classes to start at Bluegrass Community Technical College in 2023.

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Penny Shore

Coordinator - Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN)

Penny Shore works with the Ohio Farmers Market Network, supporting and advocating for farmers’ markets and the vendors who sell at them. She previously owned and ran the Wyoming Ave. Farmers’ Market from 2007 – 2019. The market was early in the acceptance of SNAP benefits and Produce Perks nutrition incentive matches. Additionally, the market was an instrumental part of the business plans for over 55 small businesses – from farms like That Guy’s Family Farm to regional favorites like Taste of Belgium to national distributors like Foodies Vegan LTD. Penny’s love of local food began while managing and developing technical training functions at several software companies in California.

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Kimmie Ishmael

Policy Campaign Coordinator - Community Farm Alliance

Kimmie grew up on her family farm in Fleming County, Kentucky. From dairy, to tobacco, to beef cattle this industry has given her many opportunities and life experiences that helped mold her into the person she is today. Throughout college, and now motherhood she has always worked to fight for the underdog. She has worked for over three years in Central Kentucky trying to pass state legislation and learning the ins and outs of our state house. Along with working with state legislators, she has extensive experience in community organizing and working with political campaigns.

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Amanda Lukas (Facilitator)

Community Connections Coordinator, Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council - Green Umbrella

Amanda Lukas is the Community Connections Coordinator of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council. Amanda brings over five years of experience in food systems and sustainability, including most recently as the Outdoor Market + Sustainability Manager at Findlay Market, the Warehouse Manager at the Cincinnati Recycling & Reuse Hub, and the Market Manager at Madeira Farmers Market. She studied both Humanities and Biology at the University of Louisville. Amanda is deeply passionate about creating a sustainable, equitable regional food system that both mitigates and can adapt to climate change. She has proven success in engaging stakeholders like farmers, food businesses, and nonprofit organizations and in conveying complex information into digestible material.

Junior Ballroom C 

Honoring Pain:
A Strengths-Based Approach to Resilience

Often, we don’t time to stop and consider the impact our work has on our wellbeing. We’re consistently facing uncertain futures, which can take its toll. During this session, participants will learn the basics of how the brain and body collaborate to keep us alive, safe, and help us avoid pain and discomfort. With only 5 options for response, participants will be equipped to identify their responses to stress, threat, and danger while gaining tools to help them move towards regulation and safety. Additionally, participants will be invited to check-in with themselves to determine how their experiencing trauma exposure in their work life and use a tool for developing a strengths-based intervention plan to better care for themselves, their teams, and their community.

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La Shanda Sugg - LPC

Chief Love Officer, Therapist, Liberatory Coach, Consultant -
Labors of Love Counseling and Consulting, LLC

La Shanda Sugg, LPC is a Trauma-Specializing Therapist and Liberatory Coach. Her trauma expertise and ability to make complex concepts easy to understand make her work accessible. Her authenticity and transparency as a trauma survivor make people want to listen. La Shanda founded Labors of Love Counseling and Consulting, LLC to help organizations understand trauma and the traumatic stress of racism and other forms of oppression and help them move towards Cultural Humility and Somatic Abolitionism. As a therapist and coach, she helps relationships and communities Move from Coping to Healing. Through her podcast, The Labors of Love Podcast, La Shanda and her guests invite people into a world of healing, wholeness, and mental wellness. For more information about Labors of Love Counseling and Consulting visit

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Rosie Santos (she/they) - M.C.P

STRONG Workplace Solutions Manager - Mayerson Academy

Rosie Santos, M.C.P, (she/they) is an expert facilitator and planner with over ten years of collective impact and process improvement experience in academia, government, and nonprofit sectors. Rosie calls on coalition building, community engagement and advocacy experience at state and national level from early career experience as an environmental educator, organizer, and park director. Rosie learned to fuse the goals of an agency with social justice principles to challenge the status quo, resulting in a measurable impact that can be seen and felt. Currently, Rosie co-facilitates professional learning, coaching, and consulting services based in VIA Character Strengths science for some of the most prominent nonprofit and government organizations in Greater Cincinnati, including the City of Cincinnati, the Contemporary Arts Center, HER Cincinnati, Cincinnati Works, Green Umbrella, and many more. Rosie also serves on the board for Groundwork Ohio River Valley, offering expertise in leadership and team development, organizational strategy, and change management.

Junior Ballroom D

Green Workforce Development and the Clean Energy Revolution

The clean energy transition is underway, and the continued rise of green jobs is being supercharged by recent unprecedented federal policies like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the CHIPS and Science Act, as well as numerous state policies. These historic investments add up to hundreds of billions of dollars for the clean energy economy.


The IRA is slated to create more than 100,000 green jobs across the country, with specific incentives for projects that incorporate union apprenticeships and prevailing wages. Workforce training will be critical to the continued growth of the industry, as over 80 percent of employers in the Midwest report at least some difficulty hiring workers. How can we rise to meet the needs of the clean energy economy while diversifying the workforce and creating viable career pathways for both urban populations and rural communities transitioning from the coal industry?

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Jason Ashbrook

Executive Director - Workforce Council of Southwestern Ohio