Joan Benoit Samuelson
Joan Benoit Samuelson is an American marathon runner who won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the year that the women’s marathon was introduced. Benoit Samuelson still holds the fastest times for an American woman at the Chicago Marathon and the Olympic Marathon.
Her time at the Boston Marathon was the fastest time by an American woman at that race for 28 years. Currently, she is a consultant to Nike, Inc. and a clinician, conducting numerous running, health, and fitness clinics throughout the United States and the world. Samuelson is also an experienced motivational speaker, giving regular addresses to corporations, civic groups, schools, and athletes. She serves as a board member to Friends of Casco Bay, a marine stewardship organization founded in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Maine’s Casco Bay
Dr. Mike Biddle started MBA Polymers about 20 years ago – literally from his garage in California. MBA Polymers has grown to what is now the world’s leading multi-national company recovering plastics from complex waste streams, such as computers, electronics, appliances, automobiles and household waste. MBA has over 300 million pounds/year of processing capacity in the UK, Austria and China to turn waste into high performance plastics. Biddle’s TED Talk is estimated to have over 1.5 million unique views and many hundreds of positive comments across the Internet, being hosted by over 50 different websites. Biddle worked for several large companies, namely GE, Cummins and Dow, before striking out on his own in 1992. Mike received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Polymer Engineering, both with high honors. He was also a Sloan Fellow at Stanford University (Executive MBA). Biddle has received numerous awards including the prestigious 2012 Gothenburg Award for Sustainable Business (sometimes called the Nobel Prize for the Environment), and the first Thomas Alva Edison Award for Innovation.
Brent recently retired as the president of Friends of the Earth where he was renowned for speaking truth to power. He testified in front of the U.S. Congress on pressing environmental issues more than 100 times. He also was a founder of American Rivers, a top river-saving organization. As a leader in the effort to safeguard rivers, Brent helped expand the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System from eight rivers in 1973 to over 250 today.
On the economics front, he initiated campaigns to reform the World Bank and succeeded in getting Congress to enact a series of significant reforms directing the Bank to pay more attention to the environment. He also sits on the Directors’ Boards of the League of Conservation Voters and 20/20 Vision. He graduated summa cum laude from Duke University and received an MA in Mathematics from Yale, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Maryland.
Tamar is Executive Director of TrueSpark, a nonprofit that teaches character to kids and principal of Tamar Datan Consulting which specializes in philanthropic and non-profit consulting. Prior to launching her consulting practice, she held executive positions in national and international nonprofits, from small start-ups to large established organizations. From 2006 to 2011, she served as Executive Vice President of the Amazon Conservation Team, overseeing the growth of ACT’s annual budget from $3M to $6M.
Previously, she was Vice President of The Nature Conservancy and Director of its Compatible Ventures Group, where she advanced sustainable economic development in communities nationwide. She also served as Venture Fund Officer with The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she established a number of new start-ups in the fields of education, civic engagement, and economic development, in collaboration with public and private partners. Tamar holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s Degree with honors from Swarthmore College. Off hours, she loves to be outdoors — hiking, running, biking, gardening, camping, canoeing and more.
Daniella Dimitrova Russo
Daniella Dimitrova Russo is the chief executive officer of Think Beyond Plastic™, a global forum and business accelerator focused on disruptive innovation and entrepreneurial solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. Ms. Russo’s blended executive experience in high-tech, Fortune 500 businesses, and NGOs has helped elevate plastic pollution to the forefront of global, social, environmental, and political discourse.
She launched the Think Beyond Plastic™ Innovation Forum to address plastic pollution as an innovation challenge, leveraging the growing demand from consumers and businesses for safe alternatives to conventional plastic with special focus on inspiring youth engagement. Ms. Russo is pioneering a global strategy focused on viable solutions that enable corporate responsibility and financial growth through market and policy instruments. She is the co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance working to end plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on people, animals, and the environment.
Kamal El-Wattar managed software localization companies for 17 years, leading teams in the Middle East, Asia and South America for clients such as HP, Microsoft, Nokia, Adobe, Medtronic, Ford and many others, adapting their software for foreign markets. Additionally, he started several international trade service companies over a 20 year span, coordinating manufacturing in Asia. Holding degrees in both linguistics and biomedical sciences, Kamal spent 15 years overseeing localization strategies that translated software into more than 100 languages for the world’s largest companies.
During 8 years living in China and negotiating with hundreds of factories for clients, he came to understand the critical need for shared responsibility of our environment: between international consumers, developers, manufacturers, NGOs and government.
Kamal co-leads the Kamanya Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting awareness about the interdependence of all life and helping people more easily convert their personal values to immediate global positive solutions; supporting K-12 biomimicry education, environmental education in California, and food-as-medicine programs. Kamal also serves on the Board for the Biomimicry Institute and lives in San Francisco with his wife and four children.
Caitlin Fitzgerald is an actor, writer and director. She is best known for her work as an actor in such television shows as ‘Masters of Sex,’ ‘UnReal,’ ‘Sweetbitter’ and such films as ‘It’s Complicated,’ ‘Newlyweds,’ and ‘Always Shine,' among others.
Growing up in a small town in mid-coast Maine, Caitlin was lucky enough to have two parents passionate about protecting and appreciating the natural world. Through them she learned her first lessons about conservation and reducing ones negative impact on the planet.
A few years ago, Caitlin became very interested in waste (particularly plastic waste) in general after conducting an experiment to see if she could reduce her personal waste by 70%. This interest garnered an introduction to UPSTREAM and the incredible work they are doing. Caitlin is thrilled to be an UPSTREAM Influencer and to be a part of imagining and creating a new world culture free from plastic and single-use waste.
Evan J. Segal
Evan Segal is a businessman, public servant, philanthropist, and author dedicated to providing business leaders with the knowledge, wisdom, and information that will help them grow their businesses in today’s challenging and rapidly changing environment. Segal’s story began at Dormont Manufacturing Company. As President and Owner, he led Dormont’s evolution from a small business to a successful international company.
Mr. Segal has also worked to make government more efficient, bringing his management acumen and innovative thinking to his role as Chief Financial Officer at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Nominated by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate, Segal served on The White House Innovation and Information Policy Task Force and the Federal CFO Council.
Segal graduated from the CMU Tepper School of Business with a B.S. and a MBA. He later served as an Executive-In-Residence at the school, where he delivered a series of lectures to Executives and MBA students.