FLSE Institute Presenter Bios

This page lists the bios of the presenters and speakers at the Finger Lakes Social Entreneurship Institute 2012, listed in alphabetical order by first name.


Angela Noble-Grange has been affiliated with Cornell since 1992 when she received her letter of admittance to Johnson. Today she characterizes herself as a social entrepreneur who dedicates herself to helping others reach their potential. She started her first entrepreneurial venture, the Noble-Economic Development Group, after graduating from Cornell. The Nobledge developed programming supporting low-income individuals who started businesses.  Venture number two involved returning to Johnson to launch the Office for Women and Minorities in Business, now the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. ODI supports the aspirations of prospective women and minority MBA students. Currently, Angela is a faculty member at Johnson teaching communication courses to MBA students and executives. Angela has served on multiple boards and has received several awards for her work empowering others. She is the mother of three girls and enjoys spending time on a kayak or golf course in Ithaca or the Adirondack Mountains. 

Anke Wessels is the Executive Director of the Center for Transformative Action, an independent non-profit organization affiliated with Cornell University. CTA provides fiscal sponsorship to social entrepreneurs with non-profit ventures. We also offer hands-on educational opportunities that animate the power of the heart and mind to remake the world. We have more than forty years of experience cultivating change makers with innovative projects to resolve pressing social problems. Inspired by leading practitioners of non-violence, Transformative Action calls for courage to break the silence that surrounds injustices; patience and compassion for the ultimately liberating work of building an inclusive movement; imagination to stay free from “us vs. them” strategies that only flame our social problems; and inspiration to envision new solutions to common challenges. Dr. Wessels also teaches Social Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Problem Solvers, an undergraduate course at Cornell.   

Dr. Anna Kelles has dedicated her career to building connections between nutrition, health, and the environment. She earned a dual bachelor in Biology and Environmental studies followed by four years in Ecuador promoting sound nutritional and environmental practices. Anna earned a PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, exploring the impact of globalization on dietary and physical activity patterns. As Director of the School of Applied Clinical Nutrition at New York Chiropractic College, Anna assembled and directed a team of expert faculty to deliver one of the only online graduate programs focused on whole foods therapeutic nutrition. She is involved in legislative action to protect the rights of nutrition clinicians and maintain a diverse, competitive, and highly qualified nutrition workforce. She recently became the program director for the Green Resource Hub. Her focus is to provide tangible tools to help businesses and organizations thrive with a commitment to people-planet-profit goals.

Anne Rhodes has worked for many years doing anti-bias work at Cornell University, Ithaca College, and in the larger Ithaca community, including work on racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, ageism, and able-ism. She has also done anti-bias work with faculty, staff, and administration in area schools and with several departments at Cornell, and she founded the Homophobia Educators Network and White People Working Against Racism. She is currently facilitating a Round Two Talking Circle for white allies. Anne is a theater artist, writer, and Teaching Artist, supporting arts in education partnerships between cultural organizations and schools for the past thirty years across New York State, developing arts integration programs and providing professional development for teachers to integrate the arts with curriculum and encourage more critical and creative thinking in young people. In 2009 she started Dryden Solutions to encourage sustainability projects and strengthen community in the Town of Dryden.  In 2010, Anne received a Civic Leaders Fellowship from Cornell to support this work.

Becca Rodomsky-Bish is the Earth Systems Science and Farm-to-School Teacher at New Roots Charter School in Ithaca, New York. New Roots, now entering its fourth year, is a tuition-free regional public high school preparing students to be community leaders for a just and sustainable future. Becca has a background rich in experiential, interdisciplinary, and place-based learning and is an avid farmer, hiker, naturalist, and outdoor environmental educator. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Environmental Education from Antioch University New England. 

Bob Anderson is a Business Loan Officer at Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, New York. Alternatives FCU is a Community Development Financial Institution, dedicated to building wealth and creating economic opportunity for under served people and communities. Bob’s banking career began in 1978 at the Citizens Savings Bank. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Business from Tompkins Cortland Community College. 

Bob Proehl is the Director of Operations for Buffalo Street Books, a cooperatively-owned bookstore in downtown Ithaca. In 2011, Bob organized a community buy out of the bookstore and helped convert it to its current business model. He is currently working to transition the bookstore into a hybrid social enterprise, combining the retail operations of the store with a not-for-profit wing that handles literary arts programming and community outreach.

Bob Rossi is a founding board member and current president of the Green Resource Hub, a nonprofit organization committed to expanding the marketplace for sustainable living. The Hub has pursued this mission through community engagement, tools to support sustainable living, consumer education on green products and services, and the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network (The SEEN), the Hub's largest and most active program. Bob currently serves as the Communications Director for Comet Skateboards, a local producer of sustainably manufactured skateboards that are used globally. Comet has committed to environmental and community stewardship both locally as a member of the SEEN and internationally as a B Corporation. Bob earned his M.S. in Communication at Cornell and later lectured at Cornell on information systems, communication technologies, and public speaking. During these years, Bob developed a strong connection with Ithaca and has since remained active in the local sustainability and social justice movement.

Charles Hamilton is the Social Enterprise Director of non-profit Challenge Workforce Solutions where he guides business units that include Finger Lakes Fresh, Challenge Contract Staffing, Finger Lakes Commercial Cleaning and Challenge Imaging. He is also a board member and co-founder of cleantech air conditioning manufacturer Synairco. Prior to co-founding Synairco, Charles was the CEO and co-founder of biotech company Adenios and previously led chemistry start-up Novomer as President. Charles was also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Johnson School at Cornell and co-founder of cleantech company DGT. He previously worked for Microsoft, Pop, and other high-tech firms. He also currently serves as a member of the Board for the Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology based in Binghamton, New York. Originally from Alaska he earned a BS in natural resources and an MBA from Cornell. He lives in Brooktondale with his wife and two daughters.

Danielle Klock is the Chief Executive Officer for Think Topography, an Ithaca-based information and communications design company, and co-founder of Studio West, a professional co-working center in Ithaca’s West End. As an entrepreneur and citizen, Danielle views exchange as the fabric of community, and brings her leadership to support the growth of high-impact organizations and triple bottom line businesses through deep partnership. She currently serves on the founding board of Local First Ithaca, and is working with Ithaca Hours to revitalize the globally recognized local currency while helping to establish the emerging hOur Time Bank of Tompkins County. A self-proclaimed “topographical thinker,” Danielle is able to see the connections among people, information and resources, bringing them together to synthesize new ways to move forward through collaboration. She lives on an organic farm in Brooktondale, New York with her fourteen year-old son, and enjoys reading aloud to anyone who will listen.

David Makar helps business professionals create Referrals for Life. As a lifelong entrepreneur he’s helped hundreds of businesses, organizations, and professionals communicate effectively. He did this first through website design and for the last 3 years through word-of-mouth marketing consulting and training. He loves helping his clients develop an emotional message that creates buzz for their business. His company, The Referral Institute Ithaca is part of a worldwide organization that focuses 100% on referral marketing. He is a former elected representative of the Town of Dryden, having served for 5 years. He’s been a member of BNI for over 7 years and spends his time with his wife Arjan, daughter Natasha, and Tennessee (their 5 year old black lab). In the summer he paddles with the Cayuga Outrigger Canoe Club and cultivates grapes, blueberries, and apples in his backyard. His key to success is “Giving, Giving, Giving.”

Deborah Streeter is the Bruce F. Failing, Sr. Professor of Personal Enterprise and Small Business Management in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell. Entrepreneurship and small business management are the focus of Dr. Streeter’s teaching, research, and outreach activities. Dr. Streeter received the MERLOT Classics Award for Exemplary Online Learning Resources in 2010, the Olympus Innovative Educator Award in 2007, and was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in 2000, the highest teaching honor at Cornell University. Dr. Streeter holds a M.S. (1980) and Ph.D. (1984) in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is a member of a university-wide program in entrepreneurship, the Entrepreneurship@Cornell program. A major project of Dr. Streeter’s has been the development of Cornell’s eClips, the world’s largest collection of digital video clips on Entrepreneurship, Business and Leadership (15,000 clips), in use in over 1,200 universities and more than seventy-five countries.

Desiree Adaway is a dynamic speaker and experienced social entrepreneur and will speak at our morning plenary on Friday, September 14. She is the principal and founder of the Adaway Group, based in Asheville, North Carolina. Ms. Adaway is a strong, strategic business professional with the breadth and depth of having worked with organizations of all sizes in various phases of transition. She brings insight and expertise to her clients from having served in senior-level roles in the nonprofit and grants management sectors for such renowned organizations as Habitat for Humanity International, where she was the Senior Director of Volunteer Mobilization, and Rotary International, where she was the director of their largest Humanitarian Grants program. Her industry expertise includes fundraising, grants management, environmental, social justice, and faith-based initiatives.

Diane Cohen is executive director of Finger Lakes ReUse, a non-profit organization developed with Tompkins County and Cornell Cooperative Extension to enhance community, economy, and environment through reuse. She has been working in nonprofit management since 2001, and graduated from Ithaca College in 1987 with a degree in Fine Art and Politics. Finger Lakes ReUse operates a ReUse Center, a Deconstruction Services program as an alternative to demolition, and an eCenter – a computer reuse and refurbishing program. With fourteen living wage employees, the organization has begun to maximize the environmental benefits, economic impacts, job training and skill-building opportunities through reusing, refurbishing, and retailing building materials, furniture, housewares, computers and electronics. Finger Lakes ReUse received the Not-for-Profit Business of the Year Award from the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce in 2010, and the Jeff Furman Award for Social Responsibility in Business from Alternatives Federal Credit Union in 2012.

Dominic Frongillo made history at age twenty-two by becoming the youngest person to serve on the Town Council in Caroline, New York. He is the co-founder of Energy Independent Caroline, served under Governor David Paterson on the advisory panel for New York State’s far-reaching 2050 Climate Action Plan, and is a trainer for the national Young Elected Officials Network and Front Line Leaders Academy. Frongillo is the Community Energy Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. He founded and advises the Tompkins Energy Corps to build the regional market for home energy efficiency upgrades and co-coordinated the “Lighten Up Tompkins” and “Lighten Up Ithaca” social marketing campaigns, which delivered an energy-saving light bulb to 17,000 households in three hours. Nationally recognized for his work in clean energy and sustainability, Frongillo is a finalist for the national 2012 Barbara Jordan Leadership Award. In 2012, author Jeff Thigpen profiled Frongillo as one of America’s sixteen most notable young elected leaders.

Elena Flash is a partner at Miller Mayer, LLP, concentrating her practice in not-for-profit and tax-exempt organization advising, health law and complex transactional work. Elena has extensive experience representing continuing care retirement communities regarding formation, licensing, financing and operations as borrower, developer, manager and bank counsel. She also practices real estate law concentrating on commercial development and financing. Elena has a strong working knowledge of the NYS attorney general regulations related to offering plans for cooperatives, condominiums and home owners associations and has worked with developers, managers and boards of new and existing communities, two of which are co-housing communities. She has served as both borrower and bank counsel on tax-exempt bond financings. Elena’s education: J.D. from Cornell Law School, cum laude, 1985, Ed.M. Harvard University, 1980, and A.B. Bryn Mawr College, cum laude, 1979.  Elena is a frequent pro bono presenter for not-for-profit organizations on issues of formation, bylaws and corporate governance. She has served on the board of a small private school and a large senior living provider.

Elisa Miller-Out is CEO of Singlebrook, a web and mobile development company based in Ithaca, NY. Singlebrook is a certified B Corp with a strong emphasis on social and environmental responsibility and a mission of Technology for Change. Singlebrook finds innovative ways to use web and mobile technology to make a positive impact. Elisa has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today and other publications, and has spoken about technology and entrepreneurship at events across the country. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College of Columbia University. Elisa serves on the Council of Innovation Advisors for ConvergeUS.

Elizabeth Henderson farmed at Peacework Farm in Wayne County, New York, producing organically grown vegetables for the fresh market for over thirty years. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), and represents NOFA on the Management Committee of the Agricultural Justice Project. In 2009 NOFA-NY honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Her writings on organic agriculture appear in The Natural Farmer and other publications, and she is the lead author of Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (Chelsea Green, 2007). She also wrote A Food Book for a Sustainable Harvest for the 300 members of the Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture Project (GVOCSA) in its twenty-fourth year in 2012. 

Fabina Benites Colon serves as Program Educator with the Natural Leadership Initiative (NLI) and Experiential Learning Coordinator in Ithaca College’s Department of Environmental Studies. She has also worked in financial management positions at Cornell and Ithaca College. A native of Peru who immigrated to Tompkins County at the age of nine, Fabina is passionate about multicultural education. She is currently launching SoLuna, an organization devoted to sharing meaningful teaching and learning experiences that develop awareness of the vital role that cultures play in our lives and promote cultural competency and unity. She has served as a volunteer and Board member for a number of Tompkins County organizations, and is currently Board Treasurer for Love Knows No Bounds. She has a B.S. in counseling for multicultural adolescents from Empire State College, and is a graduate of the NLI program.

Gary Weissbrot: For five years prior to before becoming the General Manager of Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca’s Community-Owned Cooperative Bookstore, Gary Weissbrot was the sole owner, having rescued it from closing in 2006. Before that, Gary was a picture framer, worked at The Bookery (Used & Rare books), was a teacher in the ICSD and a local actor. Before that…well, we’re limited to 150 words. Buy Gary a single-malt, put on some jazz, and he will tell all.

Since 2004, Gay Nicholson has led Sustainable Tompkins in designing and implementing an integrated program to advance the creation of a more sustainable regional community. Gay emphasizes a systems approach to working with partners to build the infrastructure and social capacity for more sustainable ways of living and working. She has also been instrumental in the founding and development of the Green Resource Hub of the Finger Lakes and the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network (SEEN), which focuses on expanding the regional marketplace for sustainable living. Gay left a career in sustainable agriculture to work in environmental advocacy and education with Cornell’s Program on Ethics and Public Life, and as executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust before leading the creation of Sustainable Tompkins. She has been an active volunteer in numerous community and environmental organizations, providing leadership from the local to the national level. Her B.S. in Environmental Science is from University of Virginia, and her M.S. and Ph.D. are in horticulture from Cornell University.

Giselle Malina is far from the typical Cornell student. A staunch supporter of interdisciplinary work, she strives to apply this concept to every facet of her life, from schoolwork to extracurricular activities, student organizations, and beyond. She was born and raised in France, educated in the United States, and has spent countless months volunteering around the world. Her experiences have provided her with insight into the power of connections, networking, and intercultural work. As cofounder of Design for America (DFA) at Cornell, part of a network of fourteen studios across the country that uses design to tackle social challenges, she helped develop a studio that has taken home awards from the Better Alternative and open IDEO design challenges. In addition to DFA, Giselle is currently working on the Smarter Education Initiative, a student organization that aims to improve health education for children in northern Kenya. Currently a Cornell senior majoring in psychology, Giselle lives in Ithaca, NY.

Greg Pitts, Investment Advisor for Natural Investments. Greg is a financial planner and investment advisor focused on transforming his client’s relationship to money.  As an advisor for the Natural Investments, he is Ithaca’s only independent, fee-only investment advisor specializing in sustainable and socially responsible investments, helping his clients more deeply live their values, and to do well while doing good.  Greg is dedicated to local investing as a founding member of the Cayuga LION (Local Investing Opportunities Network). 

Hayden Brainard is a partner at Miller Mayer, LLP, concentrating his practice in corporate law. Mr. Brainard’s corporate practice includes advising entrepreneurs, and small and medium size businesses in business formation and governance, employment matters, commercial real estate, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, succession planning, and financing including venture capital. Mr. Brainard also practices intellectual property law, including advising clients in intellectual property protection, trademark and copyright registration, licensing, negotiation and preparation of software development and service agreements. 

Jana Jane Hexter, GPC, is the author of “Grant Writing Revealed: 25 Experts Share Their Art, Science, and Secrets.” She is founder of Grants Champion and has written well over 150 successful proposals and raised more than $28 million for her clients. Born and raised in England, she graduated from Cornell University where she was a Ford Foundation Clusters Scholar. She taught grant writing at New York University’s George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising and presented at the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) and Association of FundRaising Professionals international conferences. She has also served on GPA’s national board and is a former chapter board member of the AFP Finger Lakes and served as a Subject Matter Expert for the Grant Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) to develop the Grant Professionals Certificate exam. In addition, she is a medium and is trained in leading spiritual circles for individual, collective, and global healing. She can be reached at www.grantschampion.com.

Jennifer Delaney is a 2013 MBA Candidate at Cornell University. Jennifer graduated from Stanford University, double majoring in Economics and Public Policy. She started her career on the buy side of the investing industry, and had internships at Hamilton Lane Advisors, a private equity fund-of-funds, and at the Stanford Management Company. Most recently, she joined shopkick, a Kleiner Perkins and Greylock backed start-up, as their ninth employee for two years. Jennifer held roles in business development, account management and marketing, and caught start-up fever. At Cornell, she’s a manager of the eLab (Cornell’s incubator) and a manager of the POPSHOP (Cornell’s co-working space). Jennifer is also an Entrepreneurship@Cornell Fellow, a Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) fellow, and a Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management (CGSM) Fellow. 

Jhakeem Haltom is a youth program leader at the Paul Schreurs Memorial Program at the Ithaca Youth Bureau, where he has worked with high school students for the past four years. He is also the manager and founder of Congo Square Market, which takes place at the Southside Community Center in Ithaca on Friday evenings during the summer months. Congo Square Market is open to all to enjoy music, food and culture. It also promotes community unity, self-determination and access to resources for marginalized communities. It has been in operation for four years during the summer months, and is a collaboration between Southside Community Center, the Paul Schreurs Memorial Program, the Whole Community Project, and the Youth Farm Project. He also sings, plays flute and conga in the band Thousands of One. 

Joanna Green is Director of the Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming in Ithaca, NY, which offers farm-based education and training programs for beginning farmers, students, and community members. Before retiring from Cornell University in 2009, she served as Extension Associate with Cornell’s Small Farms Program, Community, Food and Agriculture Program, and Farming Alternatives Program. She is the coauthor of “Growing Home: A Guide to Reconnecting Agriculture, Food and Communities,” as well as coauthor of the award-winning publication, “Farming Alternatives: A Guide to Evaluating the Feasibility of New Farm-Based Enterprises.” She produces much of her family’s food on a 2-acre homestead farm in Enfield, NY.

Joe Marraffino is the Finance Manager for GreenStar Cooperative Market in Ithaca. Previous to GreenStar Joe was a worker cooperative organizer at the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in California, where he helped start two worker-owned bakeries in 2010. Joe is a member of the Democracy at Work Network, and maintains an online resource for the U.S. worker cooperative movement at www.american.coop.

Karl Graham is the Director of Community Relations and Development at the Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca. Karl has worked at Alternatives for twenty-seven years, starting as a teller in 1985. Alternatives Federal Credit Union was charted in 1979. Alternatives FCU is a Community Development Financial Institution, dedicated to building wealth and creating economic opportunity for under served people and communities.

Katie Stoner works for the Park Foundation in Ithaca, NY, leading its local sustainability grantmaking program to advance energy, climate, local food, smart growth, and education goals. Previously, she served as the Sustainability Planner for the Towns of Ithaca and Dryden, NY leading greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiatives and community sustainability efforts for both local governments and in partnership with other key local organizations and municipalities. In her work with the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, a multi-sector coalition of leaders working to achieve energy and climate goals, Katie helped move forward action-oriented collaborative projects. She was one of the founding organizers of the Get Your GreenBack campaign, a community-wide initiative aimed at engaging all people in Tompkins County to save money and energy, and to create a diverse and inclusive local movement. Katie has also served on the boards of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming and EcoVillage at Ithaca. 

Ken Schlather has been the Executive Director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Association in Tompkins County (CCETC) for the past nine years. CCETC is a non-formal educational organization dedicated to working with people and the “systems” they live in to improve their lives and strengthen their communities. Its educational, community development and policy development approaches recognize and build on the existing strengths, talents and resources of an individual and her or his community. As an educational organization CCETC’s 230 staff and 1950 volunteers offer opportunities to learn in a large number of programmatic areas and nearly three-quarter’s of the county’s 100,000 residents take advantage of at least one offering each year. Ken was a vegetable farmer in Tompkins County in the late 1970’s, selling at the Farmer’s Market, before joining the Peace Corps. He spent the next twenty years working in Asia and Latin America on rural and economic development with an emphasis on food security and disaster preparation.  

Kirby Edmonds is the managing partner of TFC Associates, a human relations training and consulting firm based in Ithaca, New York. Kirby is a management consultant, mediator and trainer with experience in the areas of team-building, supervisory issues, building and valuing diversity in the workplace, cultural competence as well as managing conflict and stress in the work environment. He has several years experience working on diversity in the corporate, higher education and public school environments both with management and unions. He has been a consultant to public-private partnerships throughout the country, a mediator at the Community Dispute Resolution Center in Ithaca, and trainer of mediators for the center for over twenty-five years. He helped design and facilitates dialogues for racial understanding, healing and reconciliation. He is also a Senior Fellow and Program Coordinator for Dorothy Cotton Institute. In that capacity he is managing and delivering programs on human rights education to public school educators and community youth workers, and developing programs on civic engagement.

Laura Branca is a consultant and managing partner at Training for Change (TFC) Associates, founded in Ithaca in 1982, leading workshops on organizational change, leadership skills, communication, diversity inclusion, and building culturally competent organizations and coalitions. The core of TFC’s work is helping groups build alliances, handle conflict, dismantle exclusive practices and bridge differences in ways that express their values and accomplish their goals. Ms. Branca also helps design and facilitates the Multicultural Resource Center’s Talking Circles on Race and Racism. She has been a mediator for the Community Dispute Resolution Center for twenty-seven years and helps people learn to resolve community and organizational conflicts peacefully, and was a 2012 recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award. Ms. Branca is a Senior Fellow with the Dorothy Cotton Institute (DCI), an organization bringing the ongoing legacy of civil rights leader Dorothy Cotton’s work to new generations of civil and human rights activists, and championing people working for positive, non-violent social transformation. For more, visit www.tfcassociates.org.

Leslie Ackerman is Director of Business CENTS (Community Enterprise Networking and Training Services), a community small business resource center at Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, New York. For over ten years, Leslie has taught and coached small business owners at all stages of development, collaborating with a wide variety of community programs in the process. Her philosophy steers away from “writing a business plan” and focuses on business planning as a research, evaluation, and development process. Instead of a pretty document, “lets create a road map!” In 2008, Leslie cofounded Local First Ithaca, which became a member of BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, in 2009. Her various past lives and alter egos include rock and ice climber, agroforestry advisor in West Africa, fruit smoothie entrepreneur, and wolf caretaker.

Leslie Jones is an eco-justice activist/artist/attorney, holistic health practitioner, and a raw food chef-in-training. Currently, she is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Southern Tier Advocacy & Mitigation Project, Incorporated. S.T.A.M.P. (an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization) builds community to shift our world beyond petroleum, pills, pollution, and prisons towards passion, purpose, promise, and peace. Living with solar power, wood heat, rainwater collection, composting toilets, family farming, and waste vegetable oil for fuel for the last ten years (while simultaneously running a nationally recognized sustainability program for at-risk teens and a national network for people of color interested in living unplugged), Leslie is currently co-creating a 100-acre off-grid living and learning sanctuary where marginalized communities can come together to tap into the healing arts; explore and expand their creative genius; feast from the nutrition kitchen; and, build their skills in renewable energy and green building technologies.

Leslie Strebel has been practicing as a financial advisor since 1984. Her background includes working for a prominent financial services company in a District Manager position. Her duties included the management and training of representatives in the areas of business and personal finance. In company training programs, she taught a broad range of subjects including estate planning strategies, buy-sell arrangements and charitable giving techniques. Today Leslie creates comprehensive financial plans for individuals and couples who wish to implement strategies for retirement, education, estate tax, income tax, risk management and investments. She also works extensively with business owners to create high-quality yet affordable employee-benefits programs. Leslie has extensive knowledge in the field of Socially Responsible and Community Investing. A certified business-development coach, Leslie works with entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals to create better businesses and lives though a unique coaching program. Leslie also offers Money Coaching services, designed to help individuals have a healthier relationship with money.

Liz Field is the Communications Manager at the Center for Transformative Action, managing the website and several social media profiles, as well as developing print and online publicity materials. Her professional experience ranges from freelance journalism and editing, to music promotion and program development in a non-profit setting. As a freelance journalist she covered race, class, gender, anti-war activism and environmental sustainability for local, national and International publications. She also provides freelance communications services to businesses, organizations and individuals, including: developing social media and online marketing strategies; editing and copyediting books, Ph.D. theses, and scholarly articles; grant writing; publicity and marketing services; and event planning and promotion. ‚Ä®From 2008 to 2010, she worked as the Diversity & Inclusion Special Projects Coordinator at the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), a small, grassroots non-profit that focuses on anti-racism program development. Her workshop on Saturday, Social Media for Social Change, will focus on using social media to build relationships with business supporters, donors and volunteers. 

Paul Strebel has been practicing as a financial advisor since 1984. His background covers accounting, financial services and insurance. He also served as tax manager for an international corporation. This diverse background enables Paul to provide clients with comprehensive wealth-building strategies designed to create, grow and protect and preserve wealth. As a certified business development coach, he works with entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals to create better businesses and lives though a unique coaching program. Paul also lectures at Cornell University where he teaches Financial Planning and Wealth Management, Financial Accounting Principles, and Personal Financial Management.

Peter McWain is the Senior Year Program Coordinator and the Public Policy and Economics Teacher at New Roots Charter School in Ithaca, New York. New Roots, now entering its fourth year, is a tuition-free regional public high school preparing students to be community leaders for a just and sustainable future. For more than a decade Peter has worked closely with young people as a mentor and catalyst to help them develop capacity to think critically, be active citizens and recognize the ways that environmental mismanagement and unsustainable trends underpin the social inequities we experience locally, regionally, and globally. Peter holds a MSEd. from SUNY Cortland in Natural Sciences and a BS from Grand Valley State University in Earth Science, with a minor in Physical Geography. Peter is also an adjunct instructor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Policy and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Svante Myrick: Raised by a single mother along with his three siblings, Svante saw hard work modeled from a young age. Working multiple jobs, his mother’s tenacious spirit and commitment allowed her children the comfort and security necessary for them to succeed. Svante attended Cornell University where he studied Communication and was first elected to Ithaca’s Common Council while a junior at the University. At age twenty-four Myrick won a four-way mayoral race, sweeping 18 out of 18 election districts to become the youngest mayor in Ithaca’s history and the first mayor of African American heritage.

Tina Nilsen-Hodges is the founder and principal of New Roots Charter School, an innovative model of education for justice and sustainability that inspires young people as social entrepreneurs. New Roots celebrated its first graduating class in 2012. Serving 200 students in grades 9-12, New Roots is authorized by the State University of New York as a “living laboratory” of best practices to prepare young people to be innovative leaders in a century characterized by rapid economic and climate change. Tina has been a teacher and curriculum developer for New York schools and for innovative educational programs for democracy, social justice and sustainability education since 1989. She holds certifications to teach prekindergarten through 12th grade, and as a school building and district leader. She was part of the planning committee for the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education and Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, and taught courses in sustainability education at Ithaca College. 

Zoe Wong is a senior at Cornell University majoring in Sociology with a minor in Inequality Studies. Zoe founded the BR Social Venture Fund, a student-run impact investing fund, and the Society for Social Entrepreneurship & Collaborative Action, an umbrella organization that aims to promote social entrepreneurship and collaborative action among student change makers on campus, both at Cornell University. She also served as President of the Sustainable Enterprise Association, Cornell’s Net Impact Undergrad Chapter. She has previously interned with UBS Wealth Management’s Philanthropy & Values-Based Investing team in Hong Kong; SynTao, a Beijing-based CSR and SRI consulting firm; and Shokay, a Shanghai-based social enterprise. In summer 2011, Zoe won dual grants to fund an independent research project on impact measurement where she conducted interviews with over seventy impact investors in New York City, London, Hong Kong, and San Francisco. Zoe is a 2011 StartingBloc Fellow and 2012 Truman Scholarship Finalist.