Tuesday Plenary


Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 1:15pm


Constellation Ballrooms AB, Hyatt Regency Baltimore

Things We Don’t Measure but Should

We often quantify sustainability progress with numbers: tons of CO2 emitted, pounds of waste recycled, gallons of water conserved. These statistics seem like an easy, clear way to get a snapshot of an institution’s past sustainability record. However, they don’t paint the whole picture when it comes to measuring the things that matter most for our future success. For example, how can a university or college measure what drives students to initiate energy reduction contests in their dorms? How do we measure the social influence of employees modelling and promoting environmentally-friendly behaviors, or faculty engagement in driving sustainability content into their classes? How does an institution measure its ability to encourage good ideas to develop and take root on campus?

Environmental impact reductions and cost savings are factors we are used to measuring. We have yet to even make the case, however, for measuring many of the things that will matter most to our future success. Social dynamics, emotional intelligence, engagement and idea flow, along with other metrics that address the "softer" side of organizational change capability, must be embraced as a necessary part of the complete metric picture–especially if we are to make better arguments for the resources and leadership support. Getting this right will be the difference between making our organizations aware of their environmental impact, and making sure our organizations are actually capable of and engaged in solving them.

Our closing plenary will be a TED-style panel featuring leaders who measure innovation, emotional intelligence and vibrancy. Join Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability at Interface; Mary Spilde, President of Lane Community College; and James Ritchie-Dunham, President of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, as they share unique methods to measure impact.


Jim Ritchie-Dunham

President of Vibrancy, LLC and the Institute for Strategic Clarity

Jim Ritchie-Dunham is a student of human agreements. Utilizing over 20 years of research and insights gleaned from working with groups of all make-ups, Jim named Ecosynomics, the emerging social science of the agreements that guide human interactions. Ecosynomics provides a framework rooted in economics and the sciences of human agreements that begins with an initial assumption of abundance, not scarcity, and a wider view of the human being. He has found that groups that start with this fundamentally different assumption work at greater levels of effectiveness, efficiency, and innovation. As president of Vibrancy, LLC and the Institute for Strategic Clarity, Jim brings together the worlds of research, publishing, consulting, and conferencing to support people in exploring new agreements around large-scale social changes while doing so with higher levels of harmonic vibrancy. He supports leaders on a global level in organizations that cross the lines of business, government, and civil society.

Jim is President of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, a global research nonprofit; President of Vibrancy, LLC, a global consultancy and publisher; President of the Academy for Self-Discovery Leadership, a private operating foundation; and an adjunct faculty member in Harvard’s program in sustainability leadership and Adjunct Professor of Business Economics in the ITAM Business School in Mexico City. Jim has authored Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance (2014), co-authored Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources (2001), has written many articles on systemic strategy for academic and practitioner journals, and blogs regularly at jlrd.me. He holds a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from UTulsa, an MIM from Thunderbird, an MBA from ESADE, a PhD in Decision Sciences from UTAustin, a postdoc in system dynamics and organizational studies from MIT, and a postdoc in psychology and Langer mindfulness from Harvard.

Erin Meezan

Vice President of Sustainability, Interface, Inc.

As Vice President of Sustainability at Interface, Erin gives voice to the company’s conscience, ensuring that strategy and goals are in sync with the aggressive sustainability vision established almost 20 years ago. She leads a team that provides technical assistance and support to the company’s global business, addressing sustainability at all levels– from operations and management, to employees and customers, and in policy forums. And she also keeps a finger on the pulse of the company’s transformed culture, a by-product of sustainability thinking that has been critical in driving innovation and retaining and attracting talented employees. Erin and her team are focused on nourishing and reinforcing the unique culture, and also on documenting its evolution. Erin is a frequent lecturer on sustainable business to senior management teams, universities and the growing green consumer sector. She has spoken at a variety of conferences and forums including: Bioneers, Greenbuild, SXSW, Businesses for Social Responsibility and others. Erin is a magna cum laude graduate of the Vermont Law School, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Studies in Environmental Law and her Juris Doctor degree.

Dr. Mary Spilde

President of Lane Community College

Dr. Mary Spilde is President of Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. She is a nationally respected authority on community colleges, workforce development and sustainability. Dr. Spilde has 35 years of experience in higher education. She became Lane’s sixth president in 2001, after serving six years in two vice president roles. Before Lane, she held a variety of leadership positions at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany for 15 years. She has bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Edinburgh, and a master’s and doctorate from Oregon State University.

Dr. Spilde is past chair of the American Association of Community Colleges board of directors and currently serves on its Sustainability Task Force. She is a board member of the League for Innovation in the Community College and a past member of the Oregon Education Investment Board. She has served on numerous boards and commissions including for the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Presidents’ Commitment to Climate Control, and the Oregon Post Secondary Quality Education Commission. Dr. Spilde has received many honors, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2013 Center for Green Schools President’s Award for a two-year institution, the 2013 National Leadership Award from the National Council for Continuing Education and Training; the 2012 Eugene Chamber First Citizen Award; the 2012 Woman of the Year Award from the American Association for Women in Community Colleges; and the 2011 Association of Community College Trustees CEO of the Year Award. Dr. Spilde is a frequent presenter, author and spokesperson and often quoted in the media including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Community College Times, Washington Post, New York Times, PBS Newshour, and other media.