Feb. 7, 2019 from 5:30-8 p.m.
WestRock, 501 South 5th St., Richmond, VA 23219
Join fellow alumni and friends for conversation, food, and fun at an event focused on sustainability.
Participate in a Conversation Café on a variety of sustainability topics. Alumni and faculty from several Virginia Tech colleges will lead table discussions; you'll switch tables every 10 minutes to hear from multiple industry leaders.
Heavy hors d’oeuvres, as well as wine and beer, will be available.
Chris Davidson (’97), director of sustainability at WestRock, will serve as emcee. Paul Winistorfer, dean of the College of Natural Resources and Environment, will present a message from the university.
Hosting colleges include:
- Architecture and Urban Studies
- Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
- Natural Resources and Environment
- Pamplin College of Business
Conversation Café Table Hosts
James D. Kern
Pamplin College of Business Assistant Professor of Practice
Table topic: Where does sustainability fit into a business education?
Kern is an assistant professor of practice in the Department of Business Information Technology in the Pamplin College of Business. He received a Ph.D. in biological systems engineering and an M.S. in agricultural engineering from Virginia Tech, and a B.S. in agricultural engineering from Cal Poly, Pomona.
He has worked for a Blacksburg-based environmental consulting firm, MapTech, Inc., for 17 years, as a project manager and water resources engineer. During his tenure at MapTech, he developed new water quality modeling procedures, statistical analysis procedures, and a decision support system for comparing control-measure implementation scenarios. He managed numerous water quality projects, including environmental monitoring, computer modeling, data compilation and analysis, model development, report development, and public participation.
Additionally, he has been the primary author on over 30 water quality studies. In his current position, he is looking at ways of integrating sustainability into the business education at Virginia Tech.
Department of Political Science Assistant Professor
Table topic: What does sustainability mean at a state and local government level?
Scerri studies environmental and urban politics. He was a foundational member of the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme team that developed the ‘circles of sustainability’ framework for evaluating and hosting community engagement in policy design for more sustainable, resilient, adaptable, and livable cities.
Supported by the Programme, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Global Cities Research Institute, the Australian Research Council, the Canadian Social Sciences Research Council, the City of Melbourne, corporate donors including ARUP Australia and FujiXerox, and non-governmental organization World Vision International, the framework provides a process for stakeholder consultation and decision-making to establish environmental and social indicators. It also functions as a tool to facilitate citizen participation in the design of aid delivery programs in complex urban settings in the global South, and has been employed by World Vision in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and by municipal governments in Johannesburg, South Africa, New Delhi, India, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, as well as Valletta, Malta.
Scerri was awarded the Ph. D. in International Studies by RMIT in 2007 and BA (Hons) by the University of Technology, Sydney in 2002.
He is author of two books, “The Limits to Nature” (SUNY Press, 2018) and “Greening Citizenship” (Palgrave, 2012), and co-author of “Urban Sustainability In Theory and Practice: Circles of Sustainability” (Routledge, 2014), as well as research articles in leading journals, including Environmental Values, Environmental Economics, Environmental Politics, Environmental Policy & Planning, IJ Urban and Regional Research, Citizenship Studies, Space & Polity, Community Development, IJ Social Research Methodology and Local Environment.
WestRock Company Corporate Sustainability Director
Davidson, WestRock director of corporate sustainability, is responsible for ensuring WestRock is a recognized global leader in sustainability. He leads the development of strategy, policy, goals, metrics, and internal and external reporting for the company’s sustainability efforts. Those efforts are key initiatives in securing WestRock’s position as a strategic partner, supplier, and resource for customers and other stakeholders.
In addition, he works with national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on a variety of sustainability and social responsibility issues.
Davidson has worked in the forest products industry for more than 23 years. Prior to WestRock, he held positions of increasing responsibility with Nekoosa Packaging, Georgia Pacific, Champion International, International Paper and MWV. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, serves on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and is a trustee on the boards of the Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the N.C. State Natural Resources Foundation.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in forest management, and a master’s degree in forestry, with a minor in statistics, from North Carolina State University; as well as a doctorate in silviculture and ecology from Virginia Tech. Chris is based in Richmond, Virginia.
Sustainability Solutions Manager at STRUCTR Advisors
A former sustainability analyst with Hourigan Group, Covey brings her passion for sustainable living and LEED to Structr Advisors. While at Hourigan, Sydney engaged with clients early on to ensure that all LEED and sustainability goals were achieved.
Her breadth of experience includes involvement in the Brock Environmental Center, a LEED platinum-certified facility and one of the most sustainable buildings in the world, as well as Virginia Wesleyan University’s Greer Environmental Science Center, which incorporated sustainable design features such as a geothermal ground-source heat exchange and photo-voltaic panels. At Structr Advisors, Sydney applies her knowledge of LEED and sustainable design to provide fresh solutions that meet and exceed clients’ sustainable goals.
In addition to her comprehensive consulting experience Sydney is a leader within Virginia’s sustainability community. She serves as chair of the U.S. Green Building Council Virginia’s Hampton Roads Planning Board and vice chair of the U.S. Green Building Council Virginia’s Market Leadership Advisors Board.
She also holds a position on the Lynnhaven River NOW’s Program Partners Committee. Sydney has also served on a number of panels concerned with resilient infrastructure and participated in VWU’s Community Resilience Building Workshop. Her work with Wetlands Watch and their collaboratory focuses on developing practical approaches to adapting to the impact of sea-level rise on tidal localities in Virginia.
Sydney received a B.A. in business and a B.A. in environmental studies from Virginia Wesleyan University in 2015, and in 2017 was the recipient of the VWU Alumni Council’s Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award.
Program Manager with Draper Aden Associates
O'Brien is a Virginia Tech-trained civil/land development engineer and program manager with Draper Aden Associates in Richmond. Throughout her 20 years of professional experience, she’s thrived on high-profile, fast-paced work in and around the Commonwealth as well as projects in Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. She loves a project that enhances the community, is creative, and screams quality. Partnering with her clients by incorporating strategy, creativity and good, solid engineering principles are what makes O'Brien smile. Industrial, corporate, office, commercial, institutional; she has worked on them all and has discovered the unique nuances of each project type. Bring her a challenge with many moving parts, big company politics, and impossible timelines and she will show you a woman rolling up her sleeves to make it a reality!
O'Brien serves on the board of CREW Richmond, LEAD Virginia class of 2017 and curriculum committee 2018-2019, is past president of the Richmond Branch of ASCE, an active member of VSHE, ULI Virginia, and GRACRE, past president of Crestwood Elementary PTA, and leader of Girl Scout Troop 5030. She is also a part of the CREW Network Leadership Certificate program for 2019. When she’s not working or volunteering, O'Brien shares her life with her very understanding husband and two daughters.