The following speakers have confirmed to speak during keynote events of the ISSST 2018 Conference, including Ms. Linda CruseMs. Connie D. Hensler, and Dr. Robert F. Jeffers.

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.


Robert F. Jeffers

Jeffers Robert Fredric headshotBio Dr. Robert F. Jeffers is a Systems Scientist and Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he applies system dynamics and power engineering principles to diverse problems concerning the intersection between social, natural, and engineered systems. He is the technical lead for Sandia’s Urban Resilience Initiative which applies Sandia’s expertise in infrastructure modeling, resilience science, and economics to resilience problems at the city scale. Dr. Jeffers’s previous projects include specification of city-wide grid modernization portfolios designed to improve a community-focused and performance-based resilience metric. His current focus is on developing a process to better align community resilience strategies with electric utility investment planning. He is developing approaches to support utilities, regulators, and local governments in this integrated planning process. Prior to his time at Sandia, Dr. Jeffers worked at Idaho National Laboratory as an Energy and Environmental Systems Modeler and Power and Controls Researcher. Dr. Jeffers earned his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Power Systems from Virginia Tech, and his doctorate in Environmental Science from Washington State University.

Talk abstract Within the Urban Resilience Initiative at Sandia, researchers demonstrating an actionable path toward designing resilient communities through consequence-based approaches to grid planning and investment and through validation of technologies that enable distributed and clean resources to improve community resilience. Based on previous projects such as “Grid Analysis and Design for Resiliency in New Orleans” and feedback from Chief Resilience Officers of member cities in the 100 Resilient Cities organization, Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) has identified a critical disconnect between resilience planning for the electric grid and resilience planning for communities. Namely, community resilience planning focuses on decreasing societal consequence to major disruptions, both natural and man-made. Utility resilience planning has not been standardized across the industry, and still largely focuses on standard reliability goals, metrics and cost recovery strategies. This gap between true resiliency planning at utilities today and standard reliability practices are largely due to a lack of resilience-oriented regulations and the difficulty in assessing the multitude resilience benefits that grid investment can provide to multiple stakeholders.

To address the gap between community and utility resilience planning, this keynote presentation discusses how a community can be designed to be resilient through coordinated grid investment, and how electric utilities of various configurations (e.g. municipal, investor-owned, or cooperative, vertically vs. horizontally integrated) can plan for resilience and benefit from these investments. Emerging grid modernization technologies such as advanced distribution management systems, advanced microgrids, novel protection schemes, and others offer the opportunity to greatly improve grid resilience. In the meantime, distributed energy resources such as solar PV, energy storage, electric vehicles, home and building energy management, fuel cells and combined heat and power (CHP), and others can potentially play a much bigger role to improve grid resilience. However, without internalizing the connection between grid resilience and consequence to communities, these technologies will fail to reach their potential impact to society.


Connie D. Hensler

C Hensler

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.

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.


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

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