Plenary 6: The Built Environment - Implementing Solutions


Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, joined the Rockefeller Foundation in April 2007. As a Senior Associate Director, Dr. Rumbaitis del Rio helps develop the Foundation’s initiatives regarding building resilience for poor and vulnerable people who will be affected by climate change. She is currently leading the Rockefeller Foundation’s exploratory work on oceans and fisheries conservation.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Rumbaitis del Rio was a post-doctoral fellow conducting research on sustainable development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. She also did policy research for the United Nations Environmental Program, the U.S. Department of State and other institutions. She was a recipient of the 1996 National Harry S. Truman Scholarship for Public Service and a Mass Media Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement Science.

Rumbaitis del Rio received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University.  She also has a Doctoral degree in Ecology from the University of Colorado.



Ann Bartuska is Deputy Under Secretary for USDA's Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area. She came to REE in September 2010 from the USDA Forest Service, where she was Deputy Chief for Research & Development, a position she had held since January 2004. She served as Acting USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment from January - October of 2009, and was the Executive Director of the Invasive Species Initiative in the Nature Conservancy. Prior to this, she was the Director of the Forest and Rangelands staff in the Forest Service in Washington, DC. Bartuska represents USDA on the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability of the White House National Science and Technology Council and also is co-chair of the Science and Technology for Sustainability Roundtable of the National Academies. She is active in the Ecological Society of America, serving as Vice-President for Public Affairs from 1996-1999 and as President from 2002-2003. She has served on the Board of the Council of Science Society Presidents and is a member of AAAS and SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science).

Kara Hurst was appointed as the CEO of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) in September 2012.  TSC, recently named one of the "Top Ten World Changing Ideas" by Scientific American, has over 100 members, and four global offices in the US, Europe and China.  The Consortium produces scientifically-based information, innovation projects and business tools to drive the creation, purchase and use of more sustainable consumer products.

Prior to TSC, Kara spent eleven years at BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), where she last served as Vice President, playing a crucial role in BSR's global expansion. Hurst has managed strategic consulting engagements for over 30 of the world's largest companies, including GE, Google, eBay, Pfizer, Apple, Microsoft, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, American Express and Hyatt. Hurst’s areas of expertise include corporate transparency, responsible supply chain management, social enterprise and industry collaboration. Hurst holds a Master's degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College of Columbia University.


Dr. Christopher Pyke is the Vice President of Research for the US Green Building Council.  He directs a diverse research portfolio leveraging green building project experience to gain practical insights into building performance, occupant experience, and market trends.  He directs the development and operation of the Green Building Information Gateway (, a unique global data platform for the green building industry.   Dr. Pyke serves in a number of technical advisory roles, including representing the United States on green house gas mitigation issues related to residential and commercial buildings on the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Working Group 3).  He is a faculty member at George Washington University, teaching in the graduate Sustainable Urban Planning Program.  


Petra Tschakert is an associate professor of Geography and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) at Penn State and a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (CICERO) in Norway. She received her MPhil in 1991 in Geography & Economics and French from the Karl Franzens Universität in Graz, Austria, and her PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences with a minor in Applied Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 2003.

Tschakert is coordinating lead author of Chapter 13 “Livelihoods and Poverty” on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group II. She directs several research initiatives that explore and facilitate co-generative inquiry, adaptive capacity, and livelihood resilience among resource-poor land users in Africa and the Himalayas. With support from NSF, she has been exploring anticipatory learning under climatic uncertainty and coupled social-ecological dynamics in the context of climatic extremes, land disturbance through mining, and disease. She also led a research initiative on limits to adaptation and is part of a network on gender and climate change, both supported by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). Tschakert works at the intersection of political ecology, climate change adaptation, social-ecological resilience, environmental justice, livelihood security, and participatory action research and learning within a development context.