Area Sustainability Leadership Summit hosted by WMU

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of students looking at a display of canned pickled vegetables.

The Sustainability Leadership Summit is free and open to the public.

KALAMAZOO—A keynote talk by a national sustainability leader and a panel made up of Kalamazoo area sustainability champions will highlight a Sustainability Leadership Summit set for Thursday, March 27, on the Western Michigan University campus.

The free public event will begin at 11 a.m. in the Fetzer Center with a panel discussion by southwest Michigan sustainability leaders in the private and public sectors. A luncheon for event participants and poster session will follow before David F. Hales, president and CEO of Second Nature, takes the podium at 3:30 p.m. for a talk titled "Here Be Dragons: Sustainability in the Climate of the Future."

The opening panel discussion is designed to focus on the sustainability skills and knowledge that local sustainability champions are looking for from new talent. Comparative perspectives from public- and private-sector employers will be represented.


  • John Dillworth, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan
  • Lisa Hardesty, environment care and sustainability manager, Bronson Health Care Group Inc.
  • Walker Modic, sustainability specialist, Bells Brewery, Inc.
  • Darcy Nelles-Serba, facilities project manager, Stryker Medical
  • Skip Pruss, principal and co-founder, 5 Lakes Energy LLC
  • Willard "Bill" Rose, president and CEO, Kalamazoo Nature Center
  • Carrie Susemihl, Design and Project Management Coordinator, Consumers Credit Union

After a 12:30 p.m. networking luncheon, a 1:30 p.m. Sustainability Leaders Poster Session in the Fetzer Atrium will create additional opportunities for event participants to connect with southwest Michigan sustainability leaders, WMU faculty and students. Campus and other community members who are interested in promoting their organization's sustainability efforts and accomplishments are invited to submit a 100-word abstract to participate in the poster session.

David F. Hales

Photo of David F. Hales.


The afternoon will culminate in a keynote address by Hales in Fetzer's Kirsch Auditorium. He is the former director of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and the president and CEO of Second Nature, which is the signatory organization of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. He also is former president of the College of the Atlantic, and a director of environmental policy and sustainability programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Hales is a noted national and international sustainability leader.

Hales has represented the United States in numerous intergovernmental negotiations, including the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention to Prevent Desertification, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Rio Plus 5 and Habitat II, as well as in meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Settlements and Commission on Sustainable Development. In addition, he has frequently been called upon to serve as chair or moderator of international conferences, including the Washington and Bonn International Conferences on Renewable Energy and the Hague Conference on Energy for Development and the Ministerial Meetings on Development of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Hales served on the steering committee of the American College and University President Climate Commitment, chaired the Higher Education Committee for the American Council on Renewable Energy, and is currently vice-chair of the Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century.


Organized by WMU's Office for Sustainability, the Sustainability Leadership Summit is designed to be a growth opportunity for regional sustainability leaders. All parts of the event are fee and open to the public.

To register, visit Organizers request that lunch reservations be limited to event participants.

For more information, visit