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Sonoma State University Commits to Sustainability in the North Bay

Rohnert Park, California, Friday, April 11, 2014 - Sonoma State University will play a leading role in the 9th Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference (SEC). With the expertise of faculty presenters like keynote speaker, Sheryl O'Loughlin, former CEO of Clif Bar and now an SSU lecturer, an exciting panel from the Wine Business Institute and wine industry experts on ground-breaking initiatives, and innovative contributions from student leaders, the University that co-founded the conference is embracing its commitment to sustainability in the North Bay.

O'Loughlin, who is currently teaching an entrepreneurship course based on the "Lean Launchpad" model, will keynote with her session titled, "Reaching for Sustainability in Business: Try, Commit, Achieve".

"As co-founder of Plum, Inc. and CEO of Clif Bar, I learned what a positive impact a commitment to sustainability makes on a business, people and our planet.  I learned that business could be an extremely powerful source of positive change," explained O'Loughlin.  "I will be sharing my experiences of reaching for sustainability in business through trying, committing and achieving."

O'Loughlin will present along with other keynote speakers, Gil Philip Friend, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto, and Geof Syphers, CEO of Sonoma Clean Power.

Ray Johnson, Director of Sonoma State's Wine Business Institute, and John Garn, President and Founder of ViewCraft and an Executive MBA faculty member, will join a wine industry panel with Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers, and Katie Jackson, Director of Sustainability and Community Outreach for Jackson Family Wines, to discuss the leading-edge commitment of Sonoma County to become "the first 100% sustainable wine region in the nation by 2019". Dr. William Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics, will kick off the day with a welcome.

Student leaders of organizations like the Sonoma State Student Growers Cooperative, Dining Services, and Associated Students, will present their initiatives both on-campus and around the community. Students are also participating in hands-on learning in roles as marketing interns and event volunteers.

Robert GirlingSonoma State's commitment to the Sustainable Enterprise Conference goes back to its roots. Dr. Robert Girling, Professor of Business Administration, co-founded the event and is the current Program Director. "We needed something in the North Bay that was intimate, accessible and concerned with bringing businesses, the community, and the university together around opportunities of sustainability." Girling explained. "Our goal is to educate, inspire, and provide the models of what the world could be."

O'Loughlin added, "This conference creates a community of learning where (participants) can come together and share best and worst practices as well as inspire each other to share stories of success widely. This way, we can continue forward on a path to a more sustainable, just world for people, the planet and our businesses."

Register online to attend the conference at

About Sonoma State University's School of Business and Economics:

Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for our students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond.  Its Wine Business Institute is recognized around the world for its expert faculty, business-focused research, and the first undergraduate and graduate degree programs in wine business in the United States.  Creating a vibrant community, developing a sustainable business model for entrepreneurship in higher education, and developing and delivering innovative programs are the goals for its campus-wide, community-reaching entrepreneurship initiative. With undergraduate, graduate and executive programs serving over 1600 students each year and degrees and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand programs on the Sonoma State campus.  The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15% of all business schools in the world to meet these standards for excellence.  For more information visit,