Green Schools Conference
The Green Schools Conference (GSC) is the only event to bring together all the players involved in making green schools a reality: people who lead, operate, build and teach in schools. Designed to educate, connect and inspire, attendees of the three-day in person conference will explore interdisciplinary content during general sessions, while also having dedicated time with peers to work through specific challenges, share best practices, and generate momentum to further green school actions across the country.
The Call for Proposals is now open through June 26th! Learn more and submit a session proposal.
The 2024 Green Schools Conference is designed to provide attendees with inspirational general sessions, deep dives into the most pressing green school topics, and thought-provoking interdisciplinary education. Pre-conference tours and workshops will complement the conference educational and networking experience allowing participants to explore green schools in practice.
We strive to build an inspiring and innovative program and invite you to participate! Submit a proposal for an education session, tour, or workshop and share your successful green school strategies, partnerships, research, and lessons learned with others. The 2024 program will specifically address these specific current topics:
- Leveraging new funding sources and models
- Intersectionality of sustainability and equity
- Empowering student voice for climate action
- Nature-based strategies for education and wellness
Submit your education proposal
The 2023 program was designed for each stakeholder group that makes green schools a reality: educators and school leaders, school district capital and facilities staff, non-school-based professionals interested in school design and construction, and green school advocates, government and community partners. Attendees selected ONE track designed to meet the unique needs of the attendees based on their professional role and meaningfully connect with peers to fully develop ideas and strategies.
Apply to be a Program Reviewer
Program Reviewers evaluate session proposals and help maintain the quality of sessions by identifying exceptional presentations. Reviewers can earn continuing education hours and receive a discounted conference pass to GSC for participating. Review the Call for Reviewers document for more information on applying. The entire review process takes place digitally and does not require an in-person commitment. Learn more here and apply by May 16!
Submit your reviewer application
This track is intended to support non-profit, government and other green school leaders by exploring the state of K-12 green schools. Sessions will feature deep dialogue and activities aimed at strengthening the green schools movement with a focus on equity, climate resilience, and systems change. Facilitated by staff at EcoRise, participants will explore the state of green schools and environmental education, and examine a variety of issues including social vulnerability, environmental pollutants, climate risk, health, workforce development and green infrastructure. With data and tools built through the Gen:Thrive initiative, attendees will investigate program trends across the U.S., identify barriers and gaps in services, and explore opportunities for alliance-building and transformative action.
This track is designed to inspire district level staff dedicated to sustainability, environmental health and green school buildings with new ideas, skill-building, and personalized troubleshooting. In conversations facilitated by Center for Green Schools staff, leaders representing districts from around the country will share valuable insights from their experiences on climate action and resilience planning, including leading-edge examples on topics including energy management and indoor air quality management. Attendees will learn effective communication strategies and program planning tips from experts and each other, and will leave the conference with practical, concrete plans for next steps in their own school districts.
Note: Attendance in this track will be limited to school district level staff. A valid school email address and appropriate job title or position will be required for registration.
Designed for professionals involved in the design, construction, engineering, and manufacturing of green schools, this track will offer best practices to support schools on their path to sustainability. Leaning on collective experience and expert insights, attendees will discuss the impacts of COVID - what we take with us and what we leave behind- and the implications for equitable, efficient, and resilient schools. Facilitated by Center for Green Schools staff, attendees will enjoy dedicated time to connect, share, and strategize through engaging dialogue and best practice sharing on key topics including sustainability and safety, decarbonization, the future of LEED, and the design community’s role in leading change for greener schools.
This track is designed for formal educators, school and district leaders, and school district staff interested in strategic planning for whole school/district sustainability that result in healthy, equitable, and sustainable learning environments. Designed by the staff at the Green School National Network (GSNN), participants will explore how to use the four impact systems identified in the GreenPrint for healthy, equitable and sustainable schools – Leadership; Culture and Climate; Facilities and Operations; and, Curriculum and Instruction – to analyze their school or districts and draft a plan for systemic, lasting change. Successful programs, schools, districts, and leaders will share their ever-evolving work on the road to healthy, equitable, and sustainable learning environments.
Note: Attendance in this track will be limited to educators and school leaders working in a school or school district. A valid school email address and appropriate job title or position will be required for registration.
February 28 Panelists
Tiffany Delcour is the Chief Operations Officer for NOLA Public Schools. She is responsible for Facility and Asset Management, Capital Planning, Child Nutrition, and Information Technology. Before joining the District, Tiffany served as the Assistant Superintendent of Operations for the Recovery School District. Tiffany is dedicated to improving the built environment for all children and preserving the investments made in New Orleans School Facilities. Tiffany earned her bachelor’s degree from Central Methodist University and her Masters of Science in Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Dr. Avis Williams is the superintendent of NOLA Public Schools. A native of Salisbury, NC, she has served in leadership positions in the U.S. Army, as an entrepreneur and school administrator. While in the Army, she was stationed at Fort Jackson, SC, Yongson, Korea, and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL. Before becoming an educator, Dr. Williams owned a fitness center and worked as a certified personal trainer. She received her undergraduate degree from Athens State University, master’s from Alabama A&M and Jacksonville State Universities, education specialist degree and her doctorate from the University of Alabama. She taught English and Physical Education and coached dance team and track. Dr. Williams has been an elementary, middle and high school principal. She was the executive director of curriculum and instruction in North Carolina where she led instruction for over 60 schools. Prior to her historic appointment to lead Nola Public Schools, Dr. Williams served as superintendent of Historic Selma City Schools in Selma, AL for five years and served as the assistant superintendent for curriculum in Tuscaloosa City Schools. She is the author of a children’s chapter book, Welcome to Chase Shadows. Her joy comes from spending time with her daughter Briahna, running, writing and being a “dog mom” to her standard poodles, Coco and Butterscotch. Dr. Williams enjoys giving back to her community and working with families in need. She has served on numerous non-profit boards and is a graduate of Leadership Alabama Class XXIX and a member of the Rotary Club of Selma. Dr. Williams has created and delivered dozens of professional development and motivational sessions to churches, student groups, educators and leaders nationwide.
Dana Peterson is the Chief Executive Officer of New Schools for New Orleans, a non-profit education champion and advocacy organization. Dana served as an Assistant State Superintendent of the Louisiana Department of Education and CEO of the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone. Prior to leading the work of the Achievement Zone, Dana served as the Deputy Superintendent of External Affairs for the Recovery School District, a state turnaround district charged with transforming chronically low-performing schools in Louisiana.
Dana is the founding board chair of the New Orleans Career Center – a high-impact program equipping high school students with industry- based credentials and dual enrollment opportunities that prepare them for college and career. Dana is also a founding board member of Greenhouse E3, an organization supporting and developing the next generation of charter school executives. Dana was recently appointed to by Governor John Bel Edwards to the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors.
Dana earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Houston, and a Master of Business Administration from Tulane University. Additionally, Dana is a member of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network as a past fellow of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellows Program. He and his wife live in New Orleans and are members of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church.
Mayor, City of New Orleans
Charles Eisenstein is an American author and public speaker who examines the unspoken narratives that direct our society and our lives.
His work covers a wide range of topics, including the history of human civilization, economics, spirituality, and the ecology movement. Key themes explored include anti-consumerism, interdependence, and how myth and narrative influence culture.
Eisenstein graduated from Yale University with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy. He lived in Taiwan for nine years, where he became fluent in Mandarin Chinese and worked as a translator. He married there, had children, and later returned to the United States.
The Ascent of Humanity, which was published in 2007, became his first commercially successful book, launching his writing career. Eisenstein has since written many books including The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible and Sacred Economics. His newest book, The Coronation, was released in the summer of 2022.
2023 Schedule at a Glance
Schedule at a Glance
|8:30 - 10:30 am
||Pre-Conference Workshop: Measuring, Monitoring & Communicating for Zero Waste in Schools
|12:00 - 1:00 pm
||Registration, networking & lunch
|1:00 - 5:00 pm
|6:00 - 7:30 pm
||Friends and Family Event (hosted offsite by show partner, GSNN)
|8:00 - 9:00 am
||Registration, networking & breakfast
|9:00 - 10:00 am
|10:15 - 11:15 am
|11:30 - 1:00 pm
|1:15 - 5:00 pm
|5:30 - 6:30 pm
||Peer Cohort Networking Reception
|8:00 - 9:00 am
||Registration, networking & light breakfast
|9:00 - 10:15 am
||Keynote / General session
|10:15 - 10:30 am
|10:30 - 11:30 am
||Morning education (01)
|11:45 - 1:00 pm
||Best of Green Schools Award luncheon
|1:15 - 2:15 pm
||Afternoon education (02)
|2:15 - 2:45 pm
|2:45 - 3:45 pm
||Afternoon education (03)
|3:45 - 4:15 pm
|4:15 - 5:00 pm
||Hosted Expert Panels
|5:00 - 6:30 pm
View all the sessions
A rising star in STEM education and advocacy, Justin "Mr. Fascinate" Shaifer is a Linkedin Top Voice in Technology with a talent for inspiring Generation Z. Far from camera shy, Justin has hosted science TV shows with WGBH, the Travel Channel and Al Roker Entertainment.
Justin’s goal “to be for STEM what ESPN is for sports” and to inspire young people to “embrace their inner nerd despite their surroundings,” springs from his own life experience. Growing up in a single parent home on the South Side of Chicago, he had little awareness of the potential of a STEM career. Self-taught and fascinated by science, Justin earned scholarships from NASA and NOAA that covered 100% of his tuition and room and board at Hampton University.
Justin graduated with a degree in marine and environmental science, earning the department’s highest GPA while also serving as student body president. Inspired to pay his success forward, Justin co-founded the STEM Success Summit, a large-scale conference for diverse STEM students that secured sponsorship from Best Buy and General Motors.
Kickstarting his professional speaking career with a popular TEDx Talk “How to Speak Generation Z,” Justin continues to reach millions with his content, keynotes and workshops. Justin’s work has been featured in ABC, Forbes, Essence and other media.
Lily Gardner, a junior at Henry Clay High School in Kentucky, is a director of Future Voter Support work for Sunrise Movement. She also serves as the state policy director for Kentucky Youth Climate Strike, a hub coordinator of Sunrise Lexington, and on the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council. Recently, Lily planned the September 20th Climate Strike in Louisville, Kentucky, drawing a crowd of hundreds. Since then, she’s trained high schoolers from across the country in climate organizing and served on the Youth Climate Coalition, the youth coordinating body to plan upcoming Earth Day events.
Rayan Krishnan is an 18-year-old freshman student at Stanford University, from Sammamish. Having grown up in Washington and its parks, he has always had an appreciation for the natural environment. When he found that the federal government planned to exit the Paris Accord, he pledged his high school to meet the carbon emissions reduction goals of the Accord and formed the organization Schools Under 2 degrees C to challenge other schools to reduce their carbon emissions. Most recently, he created the game Operation Sustain to teach the science of climate change in an engaging way to elementary students.
Isaac Vergun is a 17-year old sprinter, cross country runner, and climate activist and federal plaintiff in the case Juliana et al. vs. U.S. At 11-years old, Isaac got the attention of Bill McKibben by stepping onto the stage to ask about starting a divestment campaign for his hometown of Beaverton, Oregon.
Isaac co-founded Youth Acting for our Earth (YAE!) and is the Lead Youth Climate Leader, bringing the program to four states and counting. He trained to become a Climate Reality Leader and was twice elected to the Global Boards of Plant-for-the-Planet. He was also elected President of the Children’s Board. He participated in the Youth Summits in Germany and Italy as well as inspiring adults from around the world in Monaco at PlantAhead. Honored as a Youth in Action by the Marshallese Community and a leader of his high school’s Black Student Union, Isaac is part of the Oregon Youth Legislative Initiative (which helps youth make personal connections with legislators to influence the adoption of sane climate policy), and a teen board member of the Oregon Jewish Community Youth Foundation.
Helping to found Youth Acting for Our Earth (YAE!), Isaac leads free one-day trainings for youth in grades 4-12, and has spoken to media, schools, congregations and other organizations. He has been a successful fundraiser on several occasions, most recently being a guest speaker for a fundraiser to benefit Our Children’s Trust at a dinner gathering of members of community churches in a small town in Oregon; Isaac’s compelling speech helped to bring in almost double the fundraising goal, resulting in a total donation $46,163. Isaac has been an invited speaker to several conferences, such as the 2016 and 2019 Soil Not Oil International Conferences, and received a standing ovation after his 15 Minutes of Brilliance Keynote at the Living Future Conference (a conference of green building professionals). Isaac earned an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program Certificate. Currently a senior, he plans to study environmental science and journalism and will be speaking at Penn State and Howard University this February.
Tim Swinehart teaches Environmental Justice and IB Geography at Lincoln High School, in Portland, Oregon. He is the recipient of the 2015 Oregon Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year award. In 2016, Tim helped create Portland Public Schools’ first-in-the-nation climate justice education policy and has served on the PPS Climate Justice Committee for the last three years. Tim is co-editor of A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching About Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis, and his writing about teaching the environmental crisis has appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine, at HuffPost and Common Dreams. Tim has led workshops and spoken around the U.S. and Canada about the need for bold climate justice education that empowers students to act as leaders for social and environmental justice, and his work as an environmental justice educator has been featured in stories at The New York Times, YES! Magazine, and NEA Today.
Living sustainably has always been a core belief and practice of Mahesh Ramanujam. Growing up in India where much of the population around him faced economic and environmental hardships, Mahesh learned from a young age to make do and be grateful for what things he had and to give what he could to others so they could share in his resources. This is the philosophy that Mahesh brings to U.S. Green Building Council and Green Building Certification Inc. — maximize the resources you have today so there is abundance for many tomorrow. Mahesh believes in the power of people to change the world for the better, and that true global market transformation can be achieved by working together to build healthier and more sustainable communities, where buildings perform at a higher level and human health and wellness is prioritized and enhanced. In his dual roles as President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), Mahesh leads and empowers hundreds of employees across the globe and thousands of volunteers across USGBC’s ever expanding community to help realize USGBC and GBCI’s mission and vision. Mahesh brings a true passion for people, global sensibilities and strategy, and an entrepreneurial leadership approach to USGBC and GBCI’s rapidly expanding and diversifying teams, as well as their respective suites of best-in-class products and offerings. Mahesh has a wide range of expertise including organizational leadership, consensus building and negotiation, global business and market development, marketing and communications, technological innovation and enterprise platform development, and organizational excellence. Before becoming CEO of USGBC, Mahesh served as USGBC’s Chief Operations Officer and as Chief Information Officer prior to that. Prior to joining GBCI in 2009, Mahesh was COO of Emergys Corp., a business technology-consulting firm that leverages emerging technologies to deliver business transformation to its clients. Over a period of 11 years, Mahesh successfully led various business transformation programs at IBM and Lenovo. Mahesh currently sits on the Advisory Council of the International WELL Building Institute and the Board of Directors of GRESB. Mahesh graduated from India’s Annamalai University with a degree in Computer Engineering.
Jaimie P. Cloud is the founder and president of the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education in New York City. The Cloud Institute is dedicated to the vital role of education in creating awareness, fostering commitment, and guiding actions toward a healthy, secure and sustainable future for ourselves and for future generations. The Cloud Institute monitors the evolving thinking and skills of the most important champions of sustainability, and transforms them into educational materials and pedagogical systems that inspire people to think about the world, their relationship to it, and their ability to influence it in an entirely new way.
As a pioneer in the field of Education for Sustainability (EfS) Jaimie is an international keynote speaker, thought leader and educational consultant. Jaimie writes and publishes extensively, and is a leadership advisor and curriculum development coach to administrators, teachers and curriculum specialists in schools and school districts, governments and civic organizations, and corporations around the country and in other parts of the world.
Jaimie is inspired by the potential of schools as learning organizations, children and young people as leaders, and schools and their communities learning in partnership for a sustainable future.
Darcy Winslow is the President and co-founder of the Academy for Systems Change, an organization focused on advancing the field of awareness-based systemic change in order to achieve economic, social, and ecological wellbeing.
The Academy designs, develops and delivers
a range of programs
to support, coach and build community among emerging and existing leaders who are at the pioneering edge
of systems change work. Unlike conventional leadership training organizations, the Academy’s approach fosters deep understanding
of the powerful connection between change within the individual and changing the systems
in which they work. The Academy was in part founded to create a network of networks to contribute to the growth of the emerging field of ‘awareness based systems change’, thus accelerating our impact on the critical global ecosystems we rely on to thrive.
Darcy also worked at Nike, Inc. for 21 years and held several senior management positions, most notably starting the Sustainable Business Strategies in 1999, Global Director for Research Design and Development, General Manager/VP for Nike’s Global Women’s Footwear, Apparel and Equipment division, and Senior Advisor to the Nike Foundation.
Darcy participates as a Board Member for The Carbon Underground, The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions.
Whitney Ellersick, MS, RDN is the Nutrition Services Senior Director at Portland Public Schools where she has been employed since 2007. Whitney graduated from University of California, Davis with a BS in Clinical Nutrition and completed her dietetic internship at Oregon Health and Science University with a MS in Clinical Nutrition. Whitney has been a dietetic preceptor and guest lecturer since 2008, and in 2013 was nominated for the National Outstanding Preceptor Award. Whitney is an active member in Culinary Institute of America Healthy Kids Collaborative, School Nutrition Association, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has been the Director of Communication for 4 years, President-Elect, President and currently Past-President of the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Whitney was recognized in 2011 by Food Service Management Magazine in the feature “30 under 30,” in 2014 as the Oregon Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year and was featured in the textbook, The Profession of Dietetics: A Team Approach. Under Whitney’s leadership the PPS Nutrition Services department has been recognized as a leader in local food procurement and Food Management Magazine selected their yakisoba lunch as one of the Best K-12 School Meals in America.
Dilafruz Williams, PhD, is professor of Leadership for Sustainability Education and Chair, Educational Leadership and Policy, at Portland State university. With dozens of partners, she has designed, co-founded, and supported several cutting-edge initiatives such as: Learning Gardens Laboratory, Leadership for Sustainability Education master’s program, Sunnyside Environmental School in Portland Public School District, and an NSF-funded project: Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Ethnic and Racial Minority Students in Low-Income Schools.
A prolific scholar, she has given workshops and keynote addresses in Austria, Australia, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, and USA. She is selected to the Fulbright Specialist Roster and has been visiting scholar at Stanford University and Waikato University in New Zealand.
She was elected citywide and served on the Portland Public School Board from 2003-2011.
She is recipient of several awards and honors, including the Hoffman Award for Faculty Excellence and Ehrlich Award for Faculty Service-Learning.
Dilafruz is co-author of Learning Gardens and Sustainability Education: Bringing Life to Schools and Schools to Life (Routledge), and co-editor of Ecological Education in Action: On Weaving Education, Culture, and the Environment. (SUNY). She has graduate degrees from Bombay, Syracuse, and Harvard Universities in the sciences, public administration, and philosophy of education and is an avid gardener.
Demonstrate your support for healthy, high-performing schools, all while empowering the green leaders of tomorrow: the 2023 sponsorship program offers a variety of touchpoints designed to help attendees navigate specific challenges, share best practices, and generate momentum around sustainable schools.
This is the only conference uniting three groups vital to the success of green schools:
- Academic (School Leaders, Teachers, Parents and Non-profit Partners)
- Operations (General School or District Administrators, Facilities Operations Management)
- Building design & construction (Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Product Suppliers)
Our sponsors enjoy unique opportunities to engage with our exclusive audience as they emerge stronger and more strategic post-pandemic. Download the prospectus and schedule a meeting to find out how you can enjoy prominent branding, engage with sustainability leaders, and elevate your organization’s thought leadership.
The Green Schools Conference thrives on the collaboration and partnership of supporting organizations nationwide. GSC is produced by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC in partnership with Green Schools National Network.