The following speakers have confirmed to speak during keynote events of the ISSST 2018 Conference, including Ms. Linda Cruse, Dr. Mikhail Chester, and Ms. Connie D. Hensler.

Linda Cruse

International frontline humanitarian, leLinda in Tibetadership expert, public speaker and author Listen to Linda speak and you will be immersed in a world full of transformation and adventure.

Described as one-part pioneer, one-part entrepreneur and one-part magician, Linda Cruse is an international frontline humanitarian aid worker, leadership expert, innovative thinker, author and inspirational speaker. Linda has worked alongside some of the world’s most influential figures including HH The Dalai Lama, HRH The Prince of Wales, and Sir Richard Branson, along with corporations and foundations around the world. She is the author of “Marmalade and Machine Guns,” a compelling autobiography documenting her life on the edge, and is publishing her second book in October, called “Leading from the Front Line.” She speaks regularly at conferences and TED events.

During her 20-year career as a humanitarian leader, Linda has travelled from crisis to crisis assisting recovery after some of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters, including the Asian tsunami, the Pakistani earthquake, super-typhoons and the aftermath of the Nepal earthquakes. She has lived and worked in conflict zones, nomadic high-mountain areas, refugee camps and in challenged communities around the globe. During this time, she has learned what works and what doesn’t, when trying to solve crises and help disadvantaged communities recover.

She will share with ISSST a program she has developed that uses the collaborative brain power of business people, students and academia working together to come up with creative solutions to the world’s most critical issues. She calls it The Race4Good. “The power of the uncluttered mind is remarkable,” says Linda, and when these uncluttered brains are working together to problem solve, the creativity is astounding. “Sometimes our experiences train us to think and problem solve the same way every time. Presenting a problem to a group who has little or no experience with it, can produce amazing results!”

Linda’s journey has not been short of adventure and misadventure. She has escaped from a rebel army, been wrongfully arrested, evaded rape, held at gunpoint and survived severe altitude sickness and hypothermia. She regularly lives with little or no access to clean running water, reliable electricity, dependable food supply, a comfy bed, a hot shower or safe shelter.

Linda is a Senior Fellow in Residence at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Associate of Ustinov College, University of Durham; Member of the Global Core Team, World Dignity University Studies, Switzerland; and Honorary Member of Global Women: Women in Business, Diversity and Inclusion. In 2015, Linda was honoured to receive the WIFTS Foundation (USA) Humanitarian Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Redmaids School (UK).

Despite the serious nature of Linda’s work, she is FUN and is actually a trained magician. “I call my work serious fun!” she says. You won’t want to miss this talk, so be sure to arrive in Buffalo in plenty of time for our opening keynote!

More about Linda Cruse at lindacruse.com

Mikhail Chester


Talk title Infrastructure and the Environment in the Anthropocene

Talk abstract For centuries man-made infrastructure has been viewed as separate from natural systems. Yet in the past few centuries, as the scale and scope of human activities has dramatically increased, there is accumulating evidence that natural systems are becoming increasingly, and in some cases entirely managed by humans. The dichotomy between infrastructure and the environment is narrowing, and natural systems are increasingly becoming human design spaces. Yet our infrastructure largely remain obdurate. They are designed to last for long times even as changes in the environment and technology accelerate. As such, our current infrastructure paradigms fail at the level of the complex, integrated systems and behaviors that characterize the anthropogenic Earth. Infrastructure in the future will need to be designed for adaptive capacity and the complexities associated with techno-environmental systems.

Bio Mikhail Chester is an Associate Professor in Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University where he runs a research laboratory focused on studying the resilience to climate change and sustainability of infrastructure systems. His work spans a number of infrastructure systems (including power, water, and transportation) and hazards (including heat, precipitation, and wildfires). Fundamentally, the research focuses on characterizing how infrastructure fail with climate hazards and the strategies that can be used to mitigate against failures. He and his team have developed several approaches for understanding and mitigating failure including stochastic models, long-term network interdependency simulations for vulnerability propagation, hydrologic analyses, and coupled travel-hazard simulations.

In addition to research projects with federal and state agencies, and private organizations, Chester is the co-leader of the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, a consortium of 10 cities across North and South America including roughly 120 academic and 100 practitioner partners in 17 institutions working together to develop adaptation strategies for urban infrastructure from extreme events. He maintains a body of research focused on life cycle assessment of transportation systems.

Chester is an Associate Editor for Transportation Research Part D, ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering Part A: Systems, and the Journal of Industrial Ecology. In 2017-2018 he led the development of special issues of ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems and Journal of Industrial Ecology focused on climate adaptation. He was awarded and ASCE early career Huber award in 2017.

Connie D. Hensler

C Hensler

Talk abstract Interface is the world leader in modular carpet and is recognized as a leader in the movement of the industrial community toward environmental sustainability. Recently we have looked beyond our 2020 goals and asked ourselves what is next? We have a developed a new mission Climate Take Back. Our idea is that if humanity has changed the climate by mistake, can we change it on purpose?

At Interface we’re convinced a fundamental change needs to happen in our global response to climate change. We need to stop just thinking about how to limit the damage caused by climate change and start thinking about how to create a climate fit for life. So why are we optimistic in the face of this seemingly impossible challenge? Two things are stopping us from having a climate fit for life – carbon in the atmosphere and our own denial, fears, apathy. Change starts in the mind with the power of ambitious and positive mindsets. Believing something is possible is the first step.  The Wright Brothers believed they could fly, Martin Luther King believed social change could happen, Americans believed we could go to the moon.   At Interface, we believe we can reverse climate change.

We surveyed climate experts and found surprising hope and belief that climate change can be reversed with the technologies available today. Our mission platform is structured around:

  1. Live Zero – Do business in ways that gives back whatever is taken from the Earth.
  2. Love Carbon – Stop seeing carbon as the enemy and start using it as a resource.
  3. Let Nature Cool – Support our biosphere’s ability to regulate the climate.
  4. Lead Industrial Re-revolution – Transform industry into a force for climate progress.

This presentation will present our progress to date and issue a challenge to all sustainability professionals to join us on this mission.

Bio As Director of Corporate Life Cycle Assessment Programs, Ms. Hensler manages the use of LCA at Interface towards the company’s ultimate goal of sustainability. The LCA work includes evaluation of raw material and process impacts for product development, determination of the product carbon footprint for the Cool Carpet program, creation of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), and consulting on environmental impact and chemistry issues for the company.

Ms. Hensler is a Life Cycle Assessment Certified Professional (LCACP) and has published research in the Journal of Industrial Ecology and the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment.  She is a member of the board of directors of the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment.

Prior to her current position, she worked for over 20 years in research and development and holds multiple patents for her work in polymer formulation. Ms. Hensler has a Masters of Science in Applied and Environmental Microbiology from Georgia State University.

* Please note that Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Markus Reuter will not be speaking, as previously announced.

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