Jose Maria Figueres Olsen joined the Carbon War Room as its Chairman in 2009. In 2012 he became the organization's President (Chief Executive).
After a successful business career (1979-1987), José María served as Minister of State and was later elected President of Costa Rica (1994-1998) at the age of 39. As President he created a comprehensive national development strategy based on the tenets of sustainability: sound economics, investment in human development, and a strong alliance with nature.
José María pioneered the linkage between sustainable development and technology, which he continued after his time in government by helping to create the United Nations’ ICT Task Force, and then serving as its first Chairperson in 1999.
He was also the first CEO of the World Economic Forum, where he strengthened global corporate ties to social and governmental sectors. Later he was named CEO of Concordia 21, dedicated to supporting organizations that promote development and democratic values around the world.
In 2013, José María helped launch the Global Ocean Commission to formulate politically and technically feasible recommendations to address key issues facing the high seas. He currently serves as its Co-Chair.
José María holds an engineering degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a Master's in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
John Abele is the retired Founder and Chairman of Boston Scientific Corporation a 16,000 employee, $6 billion world-wide company that is a leader in the field of “Less Invasive Medicine.” He holds numerous patents and has published and lectured extensively on the technology of various medical devices and on the technical, social, economic, and political trends and issues affecting healthcare. His major interests are science literacy for children, education, and the process by which new technology is invented, developed, and introduced to society.
David Allen is Principle and Executive Vice-President of McKinstry, a Seattle-based construction, energy and facility services firm. During his 35-year career, David has championed countless marketing and strategic initiatives for his firm and others within the industry. He is widely respected for his contributions to creating McKinstry’s positioning strategy, which has enabled the company to emerge as a valued thought-leader on the sustainable built environment. In addition, David has played a significant role in establishing McKinstry’s Innovation Center, a business incubator created to help newly established companies quickly bring their products and services to market. David currently serves on the executive committees of Enterprise Seattle and the Washington Clean Technology Alliance, of which he is a former board chair. He is also a Seattle Chamber of Commerce board member and former chair of the Construction and Green Design/Building Skills panel for the Workforce Development Council of King County.
Roy Bedlow is Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Low Carbon. Founded in 2012, Low Carbon deploys capital into renewable energy development companies and renewable energy projects, with the aim of creating as many megawatts of clean green electricity as possible. Investments to date have included projects generating electricity from solar PV, concentrated solar power, onshore wind, and anaerobic digestion.
Prior to focusing on climate change, Roy was Vice President and General Manager of Palm for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Before joining Palm, Roy founded the European entity of Handspring in Geneva, Switzerland. Earlier roles included European Director of Iomega International in Geneva and a variety of sales and marketing positions at Apple Computer, which culminated in European Marketing Director, based in London and Munich.
Today, Roy is a director of Andromeda Capital, a private equity firm investing in climate change, education and communities. Roy sits on the Board of enModus, an energy efficiency technology company, and of Sparx, which is developing new technology to revolutionize learning.
Former owner of a design-build residential construction firm. Artist, fine art painting, exhibited widely in U.S. and Japan with works owned by numerous private and public collections. Trustee of The Ayrshire Foundation. Member, National Advisory Board, Union of Concerned Scientists.
Richmond, California. BS, Structural Engineering, Cornell University; MS, Mechanical Engineering, MIT; MA, Architecture, UC at Berkeley. Founder and CTO, SunPower Corporation Systems. Founder, Former founder, CEO and Chairman of PowerLight, a leading and global supplier of PV products and systems. Author of numerous papers and holds over 30 patents on building-integrated photovoltaic and related products.
Suzanne teaches corporate social and environmental responsibility classes to graduate students at Harvard University, promoting many of the holistic and positive business concepts advanced by RMI. The classes are taught on campus and online and are some of the most popular courses in the environmental and sustainability curriculum. Before her studies in sustainability, Suzanne was the executive director of the Aspen Art Museum, where she oversaw a major restructuring of the organization and its finances to bring the once struggling organization back to vibrancy. She is an active board member for several other organizations, including the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the Denver Art Museum.
Arjun is the Chief Believer of TeleSoft Partners, a special situations venture capital firm. Over the last two decades, he has overseen investing in and helping build 61 companies, of which 37 companies have gone public or been acquired. Earlier in his career, Arjun was a Technology Strategy Consultant for high-tech clients with McKinsey, where he led top management projects for Apple, AT&T, AMD, Siemens/ROLM and Vodafone. Arjun serves on the boards of Calient Networks, Nexant and Validity Sensors. He is a Henry Crown Fellow and Trustee of the Aspen Institute. Arjun joined Rocky Mountain Institute’s board of trustees in the spring of 2009. He has an MS and BS Computer Science, Phi Beta Kappa, from WSU, BA Economics from St. Stephen's College, and an MBA from Stanford. Arjun is a passionate outdoorsman and splits his time between Aspen and San Francisco.
Michael Haas is the Founder and CEO of Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC (Orion), Co-Founder of RDC Developments Ltd. (RDC), and the Founder of Alliance for Climate Education (ACE).
Orion, headquartered in Oakland, CA, was formed in 1998 and became an early pioneer in the development of low cost, utility scale renewable energy. The company specializes in the development, finance, and construction of wind energy projects in the United States. RDC, headquartered in the U.K., was formed in 1997 to help achieve commitments set by the United Kingdom for new alternative energy generation. Wind energy projects developed by Orion and RDC generate enough zero-carbon electricity to meet the annual electricity needs of approximately 1,500,000 homes. Prior to forming Orion and RDC, Michael held executive positions with KENETECH Corporation, and served as an aerodynamicist with the McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
ACE was formed in 2008 to educate and inspire young people to break through the challenge of climate change. ACE believes that achieving a safe and stable climate in our lifetime requires the ideas, action, and influence of young people. In its first four years, ACE educators have reached nearly 1,600,000 high school students in the United States.
Michael received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and his master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University.
He spends his free time outdoors with his family.
Jules was previously CEO of Topell Energy BV, a company developing a leading technology for the torrefaction of biomass. Before that, Kortenhorst served as the founding CEO of the European Climate Foundation, the largest philanthropic organization in Europe focused on influencing government policy on climate and energy. At the ECF among others, he lead a major effort to develop the roadmap for decarbonized power generation in Europe. Before launching the foundation, he was elected as a member of the Dutch parliament for the Christian Democratic Party.
Earlier, Kortenhorst was the CEO for International Operations of ClientLogic Corporation, a global leader in outsourced Customer Relationship Management solutions. Earlier in his career, Kortenhorst worked for eight years for the Royal Dutch Shell in several roles and countries, and in his last position was the managing director of Shell Bulgaria. Kortenhorst graduated with high distinction from Harvard Business School and holds a master's degree in monetary economics from Erasmus University in The Netherlands. He began his career as an analyst at McKinsey & Co. in Amsterdam. Kortenhorst is married and has four children.
Amory B. Lovins, an American consultant experimental physicist and 1993 MacArthur Fellow, has been active at the nexus of energy, resources, economy, environment, development, and security in more than 50 countries for over 40 years, including 14 years based in England. He is widely considered among the world’s leading authorities on energy—especially its efficient use and sustainable supply—and a fertile innovator in integrative design and in superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles. Read full bio.
Currently Founder and Managing Partner of Vision Ridge Partners, L.L.C. which aims to develop financially viable solutions to the global climate crisis. Mr. Munger was a co-founder and CEO of Bright Automotive, Inc a fleet focused electric vehicle company. He was formerly a Managing Director at The Baupost Group, L.L.C., a $25 billion investment firm. Founding member of the Electrification Coalition, Director of the Stand for Children Leadership Center and the Energy Systems Network.
Jean Oelwang is the CEO of Virgin Unite, the entrepreneurial foundation of the worldwide Virgin Group. Prior to this role, Jean lived and worked on five continents, helping to lead successful mobile phone start-ups in South Africa, Colombia, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.S., and Australia.
Jean has long been involved in both the business and the social sectors, and exploring the overlap between them. She worked for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife in Australia, and in numerous volunteer roles, including a stint as a VISTA volunteer where she worked with – and learned from – homeless teens in Chicago.
In 2003 she was joint CEO of Virgin Mobile in Australia when she went to work with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin staff around the world to create Virgin Unite. The Unite team works with Virgin’s two hundred businesses worldwide, and other entrepreneurs, to help put the idea of driving positive change at the core of their operations. Virgin Unite also works with partners to create new approaches to social and environmental issues, such as a school of entrepreneurship for young people in Johannesburg, or an entrepreneurial approach to rural health transport in Kenya.
Jean and Virgin Unite have also helped to incubate a number of global leadership initiatives such as the Elders, the Disease Control Hub in sub-Saharan Africa and the Carbon War Room. Jean sits on the Advisory Board of the Elders, the Board of the Carbon War Room, and the Board of the Bushbuckridge Health and Wellness Trust.
Marty Pickett joined RMI in 1998. Marty focuses on institutional advancement and takes an active leadership role in RMI’s strategic direction; business planning, development strategy and activities for RMI’s research and consulting practice; and Board governance. Since 1991, Marty has represented RMI on various legal issues, including the Institute's purchase of an interest in and creation of the conservation easement on the Windstar Land Conservancy property in Snowmass in 1996.
George Polk is the Managing Partner of Tulum Trust, a private equity firm which works primarily with family offices and delivers high returns while having a meaningful impact on climate change. Among other things, Tulum has a special focus on industrial energy efficiency, where it funds energy generation projects that have very significant greenhouse gas impact and an annual cash yield of circa 15% for the 20+ year life of the project.
George has been applying his skills as an institution builder, investor, and philanthropist to the challenge of creating a viable and vibrant low-carbon society since 2007, when he stepped out of a successful career as a technology entrepreneur to focus on tackling climate change.
George’s first work on climate was philanthropic. He founded and was Chairman of the European Climate Foundation (the largest funder of initiatives to change European policy on climate), was a Senior Advisor to the ClimateWorks Foundation (globally the largest philanthropic funder of work on climate), and founded Project Catalyst (the most significant effort to jumpstart low-carbon growth plans for countries). George also worked with Sir Richard Branson and his team to help found the Carbon War Room, and with a number of other ultra-high-net-worth individuals to design and implement other major philanthropic strategies related to climate.
In 2008, George began to focus on how to deploy more capital into the low carbon economy. He first acted as Senior Advisor on Climate Change to McKinsey, where he advised policy makers on how to create economically credible climate policy, and clean-tech businesses on how to grow their businesses more rapidly. In 2009 and 2010, George worked closely with George Soros to plan the allocation of $1 billion to climate-related private equity investments, and served as the Soros representative on the board of the Powerspan Corporation, a carbon capture technology company which was one of Soros’ personal investments. In late 2010 he started working with a wider range of high net worth families, and in 2011 he founded the Tulum Trust.
Before his work on climate change George was an entrepreneur, having founded, run, or bought a number of technology and telecommunications companies. George was recognized as a Global Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, and as a Pioneer of the City of London. He has been ranked several times in the “Top 25 Global Technology Agenda Setters” by Silicon.com. He was most recently founder and CEO of The Cloud, the leading broadband wireless network operator in Europe, which was sold to Sky/News Corporation. He is a graduate of Harvard University and is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Jigar Shah is an entrepreneur and visionary committed to leveraging the next economy, which he has dubbed “The Impact Economy,” toward solving the challenging issues of our time. He sees a global Impact Economy as one in which mainstream investors team up with corporations, entrepreneurs, and governments at a large scale to solve the big environmental and social problems of our time while generating above average financial returns.
Today, he is CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting and a board member of the Carbon War Room. In these roles works closely with some of the world’s leading influencers to guide policy makers on pathways to the implementation of solutions to global warming.
From 2009 to March 2012, Jigar served as the first CEO of the Carbon War Room, helping to build the initial idea into an organization of global import.
His first foray into realizing his vision of an impact economy was the founding of SunEdison in 2003; today the world’s leading solar services company. SunEdison simplified solar-as-a-service by developing the power purchase agreement (PPA) business model. That model changed the status quo, allowing organizations to purchase solar energy services under long-term predictably priced contracts and avoid the significant capital costs of ownership and operation of solar energy systems. The SunEdison PPA model remains an important catalyst that turned solar into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.
Prior to launching SunEdison, Jigar managed mergers & acquisitions, corporate strategy, and sales efforts for BP Solar, specializing in national commercial accounts. He also worked as a contractor for the Department of Energy on alternative vehicles and fuel cell programs.
Jigar holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and an MBA from The University of Maryland. Besides the Carbon War Room, he also sits on the boards of the SolarNexus, KMR Infrastructure, Prometheus Institute, and Greenpeace USA.
Ted is a business lawyer and a name partner of Moye White LLP where he serves as Chair of the Transaction Section. His legal practice focuses on corporate governance, complex financings, and M&A transactions. He is on AAA’s panel of arbitrators for complex commercial cases and is the Vice President-Americas Region for the International Alliance of Law Firms. He is the author of “Drafting Business Contracts” which was published in 2010. Ted is also the Founding Managing Director of the Estabrook Funds, whose managers are global, multi-strategy absolute return investors. Currently, Ted is Chairman of the Boettcher Foundation and a trustee of the AWM Charitable Trust, the Schlegel-White Foundation, Kent Denver School, and Judi’s House; he has served on numerous civic boards, was the Founding Chairman of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and has chaired the boards of Biennial of the Americas, Graland Country Day School, Webb-Waring Institute for Biomedical Research, and Webb-Waring Foundation.