Leadership in Sustainability – Thank you Leo! #Oscars2016

Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar on Sunday… He also displayed great leadership by bringing attention to climate change and the effects on humanity.  Leo has been a long time supporter of LEED/Green Buildings and the environment.

Click here to see his acceptance speech:

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

If Leo, AN ACTOR, can speak on climate change on one of the worlds largest stages, it begs the question.

  • Are you doing enough to support the planet and future generations?
  • Do you speak up when decisions are on the table which affect the environment?
  • Are you an advocate?  or do you go through the motions?

There are certain levels of advocacy which I have grown accustomed to:


In our actions, our spending and our relationships… What we do… This is a form of advocacy.  Your dollar can be your vote.  When you support certain organizations or products, you propel their vision and their mission.  This goes for the good and the bad.  I ask that you dig deeper into the background behind where you spend your money.  Does it align with your personal goals and mission?  Put your money where your heart is…


Simply educating others about the importance of the planet and it’s natural resources is a great way to start.  This could be your own children, friends or coworkers.  If you have something to share of value or that matters to you, by all means, pass it on.  This is a wonderful way to advocate for what means the most to you.  I have found that social media has such a small barrier to entry and you can hop on your favorite site and begin sharing articles or products that matter to you… Click, click, you just became an advocate… It’s that easy.

Talk to leaders in your community

Whether it is a face to face visit, phone-call or a letter, you should make your opinion known to those in the community that ACTUALLY make decisions.  I have had the opportunity to join USGBC Central Pa on several legislative initiatives at the capital in Harrisburg, PA.  We collectively sat down with legislators and discussed the issues around building codes, green buildings, conservation and laws in Pennsylvania.  If there are policies which directly correlate to sustainability, let them know they are important to you and your votes will go to those who support the causes you care about.

Here is a current list of Green Building related policies being tracked by USGBC Central Pa: http://usgbc-centralpa.org/Advocacy

Be a stand

People will push back.  People will be oblivious to the facts.  Resistance to change is human nature. Leadership involves keeping your eye on the ultimate goal: improving quality of life for all people and things.  Most people resist speaking up for the fear that they will be met with confrontation, conflict or resistance.  I contend that this exchange and dialog will leave both sides in a better place.  At the end of the day, you will both know where each other stand and quite possibly learn something new.  It’s called growth.

Next time you are in a situation where your voice should be heard or leadership is warranted. Speak up, say what is important to you.  It is called leadership.  Especially in sustainability, we need more leaders.  We need architects, engineers, builders and owners that are willing to speak up and make sustainability a priority.  If we don’t, then who will?  Actors?


2015 ForeverGreen Awards Program

USGBC Central Pennsylvania hosted their 2015 ForeverGreen Awards program on October 22, 2015.  The event was held at The Bond in York, PA.  The Bond is a beautiful old building which has been renovated by Royal Square Development in the art district of York City.  Their philosophy at The Bond is to provide a blank canvas for any event with an incredible backdrop of gorgeous finished atop a rustic, industrial framework of a historic building.

The nights top winners included:

Dickinson College – Field House

Hershey 19 East Project – Next Century 

Penn State Intramural Sports Building  

Connellsville Area Senior High School 

Educational Activities Building – Penn State Harrisburg

Ohiopyle State Park Office Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center

Brook Hill Residence

Indian Valley Intermediate School

Honorable Mentions Included:

Merck KGaA Life Sciences 

The Millworks – Harrisburg 

Prologis/Georgia Pacific – Shippensburg

Nonprofit Leadership Tips

Over the past 10 years of my career, one thing has been constant… I have volunteered with some outstanding non-profit organizations. It’s been a labor of love and I’d like to share with you a few of the many valuable lessons I’ve learned through the years.

Future City Central Pennsylvania Steering Committee

1.) There are two things you must do constantly – Fundraise and Recruit Good People
– Fundraising is more than just asking people for money. It’s establishing partnerships and figuring out what benefits both parties. At its core, it’s relationship building.
– Good people = people who are passionate about the cause and willing to give their time, energy and passion to moving the cause forward. They are also accountable and reliable.

2.) Say thank you – whether it is hand written notes, or simply saying “thanks for taking the time to do this”… Go out of your way to acknowledge volunteers. This is pretty much the only thing they’ll get out of their involvement aside from their personal satisfaction.

3.) Be kind to all contributors and volunteers – “A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gal. So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey which catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the highroad to his reason” Abraham Lincoln

4.) Think big – I truly believe that ANYTHING is possible. There are only two things standing between you and your loftiest goals – Resources and Will… If you are committed enough, it will get done. Be unstoppable and expect adversity. Adversity will only build your will.

5.) Don’t be afraid to ask and keep asking – eventually someone will say yes. Then you can move on to the next ask.

6.) Make sure your personal goals align with the organizations – If they aren’t aligned your involvement and your commitment will not be sustainable.

Green Apple Day of Service – Tree Planting at City Island Harrisburg Pa

7.) Nonprofits are at very best 3rd on the list of volunteers priorities – Family and work come first, understand this and support this. Volunteers will love you for it.

8.) Make goals and a plan to achieve them – Get buy in and allow people to embrace how they can contribute to the outcomes. Celebrate all outcomes, big and small. Always be in action towards your goals. If you fail to meet your goal, set a new goal. Remember to keep goals simple, measurable and attainable.

9.) Make it fun – If it’s not fun, you shouldn’t be doing it

HYP Golf Outing Fundraising Event

10.) Everyone involved matters – every volunteer matters, make sure everyone has a role and is held accountable. The rest will take care of itself.

My mother taught me at an early age that we all have special gifts and we should share them and support those that need it most. For me, being involved in non-profits and their various causes have given me purpose. Purpose above my career and above my personal life. It’s broadened my impact on the world. At the end of the day, I believe we all want to leave the world a better place. Volunteering and leading in the non-profit world is a great opportunity to do this.

Through nonprofits I have grown as a leader and as a person. The experiences and relationships I have built through my involvement mean the world to me. I hope you have the same opportunity in your life.

Please share your stories of involvement or great non-profits below.
Here are some resources to help you along your non profit journey.

Great resources if you’re looking for an opportunity near you:
Volunteers of America – http://www.voa.org/Landing.aspx
Big brothers and big sisters – http://www.bbbs.org/
Volunteer match – http://www.volunteermatch.org/
Top 100 nonprofits – http://topnonprofits.com/lists/best-nonprofits-on-the-web/

Nonprofit Leadership resources:
Board source – https://www.boardsource.org/eweb/
Council of nonprofits – http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/resources/resources-topic/boards-governance/board-development
How to develop yourself as a nonprofit leader – http://www.bridgespan.org/Publications-and-Tools/Career-Professional-Development/DevelopMyself/How-to-Develop-Yourself-Nonprofit-Leader.aspx

Nonprofits close to my heart:
Future City Competition – Central Pennsylvania – http://futurecity.org/pennsylvania-central
USGBC Central Pennsylvania – http://www.usgbc-centralpa.org
Harrisburg Young Professionals – http://www.hyp.org
Youth Build – http://www.youthbuild.org
Habitat for humanity – http://www.habitat.org