Speaker Bios


Michelle DePass

Michelle DePassMichelle J. DePass is the Dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy and Tishman Professor of Environmental Policy and Management. She joined Milano in November 2013 coming from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where since 2009 she had served as Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs. In this presidentially appointed, senate-confirmed position, DePass had been responsible for all dimensions of environmental policy between the EPA and other nations, federally recognized tribal nations, and multilateral institutions and donors.

Prior to joining the EPA, DePass was a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, with a portfolio focused on the environment and community development, most notably green economy and climate change, environmental health and justice and indigenous environmental rights. In her two-decade career in sustainability and public service, DePass has also served as founding Executive Director of the New York Environmental Justice Alliance, Senior Policy Advisor to the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and environmental manager for the City of San Jose. A lawyer by training, DePass was also the Kunstler fellow for civil rights at the Center for Constitutional Rights here in New York City. She is a sought after civil society leader and has served on dozens of boards and advisory committees to government, NGO’s and international organizations. DePass holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, where she was a National Urban Fellow.

Mary Watson

Mary WatsonMary R. Watson is the Executive Dean of the New School for Public Engagement. She has served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, and she was previously the Chair of the graduate programs in Organizational Change and Nonprofit Management. Watson is a recipient of The New School’s Distinguished University Teaching Award. She earned her PhD in organization studies from Vanderbilt University.

Watson serves in leadership roles worldwide to reimagine management, sustainability, and innovation education. Watson is a founding steering committee member of the The New School Social Innovation Initiative, a university-wide initiative that created The New Challenge, the New School’s social innovation ideas competition, as well as The New School Collaboratory, a university wide fund and action research project to study collaboration between the University and its community partners. She has been active in Ashoka University’s global network, a project of more than 20 universities advancing empathy and innovation education. Watson is a member of 50+20, a global network of business school deans and partners reinventing management education worldwide, focusing on sustainability, collaboration, and globally responsible leadership. The 50+20 project, in partnership with the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GLRI, Brussels), Principles for Responsible Leadership (New York, PRME), and the UN Global Compact, has launched a higher education leadership innovation cohort project in four global locations: The New School (January 2014), University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, Oulu University in Finland, and CENTRUM in Peru.

Watson’s scholarship, creative practice, and teaching in advancing the human rights of workers worldwide represents field leadership in an important area for Milano. Watson’s academic work addresses contemporary human capital issues in organizations, with particular emphasis on the social impact of shifting labor market inequalities. She has conducted research on global management, executive career paths, recruitment and retention in nonprofit organizations, downsizing and stock prices, and the evolution of inter-organizational fields. Her research is published in the Academy of Management Journal, the Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Popular Music, Communication Yearbook, and the IRRA Research Annals, among other outlets.

Watson is a frequent presenter at conferences worldwide on the topics of global leadership, social impact, and management practice. She has been scholar in residence, visiting faculty, or executive coach in programs in India (Indian School of Business), South Korea (Korean Trade Association/HSE), Austria (Vienna University), Australia (University of Adelaide), Switzerland (IMD), and the United States (UNC-Chapel Hill). She has consulted for more than two decades in corporate, higher education, and nonprofit organizations. Her numerous board and advisory committee roles demonstrate a record of election to leadership positions.

Tokumbo Shobowale

TokumboTokumbo Shobowale became chief operating officer of The New School in November 2013. Prior to that, he served the City of New York as chief business operations officer, the Bloomberg administration’s lead official for implementing business-friendly practices. Previously, he was director of infrastructure and the built environment for the city’s Initiative on Rebuilding and Resiliency, a response to Hurricane Sandy. Tokumbo also served as chief of staff to the deputy mayor for economic development, overseeing more than a dozen agencies, and as COO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. In both roles, he facilitated the city’s economic diversification and, in particular, the applied sciences initiative, which attracted Cornell-Technion to New York City and facilitated NYU-Poly’s creation of the Center for Urban Science and Progress. He holds an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, an MA from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and an AB from Stanford University.

Richard McGahey

ff-Worldwide Meeting 2008Rick McGahey is professor of professional practice in the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. He also is a senior fellow at the New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis. McGahey is a nationally recognized expert on urban and regional economic development, evaluation, retirement policy, and workforce development who has worked in philanthropy, the private sector, and government at all levels—federal, state, and local. McGahey comes to Milano from the Ford Foundation, where he was the Director of Impact Assessment, working to develop and implement assessments to help the Foundation achieve greater impact. Previously, he was a program officer with a focus on workforce development and regional economic development. He is the co-editor, with Jennifer Vey, of Retooling for Growth: Building a 21st Century Economy in America’s Older Industrial Areas (2008).

Before joining the Foundation, he was a Managing Vice President at Abt Associates, a consulting, research and evaluation firm where he directed work on education, childhood development, social welfare, and workforce development, responsible for an annual portfolio of over $20 million in evaluation grants and contracts. Rick also has extensive experience in the public sector. During President Clinton’s second term, he served as Assistant Secretary for Policy, and later for Pension and Welfare Benefits, at the U.S. Department of Labor under Secretary Alexis Herman. He also served as Executive Director of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and as Economic Policy Advisor for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)

Timon McPhearson

Timon McphearsonProfessor McPhearson studies ways to better design, restore, and build resilient and sustainable social-ecological systems. He focuses his research on understanding the linkages between urban ecological structure and function with a keen interest in the role of biodiversity and valuation of ecosystem services. Professor McPhearson’s research, teaching, and activism centers on the premise that humans are integrated components of ecosystems and therefore must recognize and take responsibility for the intimate role they play in the structuring and functioning of all ecosystems. This is nowhere more apparent than in urban areas. Cities are home to more than fifty percent of humanity and rising, which poses potentially dramatic implications for the well being of urban residents and the natural systems they depend on. The fact that most people’s experience of nature is urban suggests that cities need to become models of resilient and sustainable social-ecological systems. Accordingly, McPhearson’s research efforts are focused on better understanding urban socio-ecologies and protecting and restoring ecological functions and services in the urban systems.

Bill Telepan

Chef-Bill-TelepanBorn and raised in New Jersey, Bill Telepan grew up in a family where they shared hearty meals sometimes made with vegetables from their garden. Upon graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Bill schooled at some of the world’s top kitchens. He apprenticed with the legendary Alain Chapel at his Three Michelin Star restaurant outside Lyons in France. Under Chapel, he honed his culinary skills, and learned the importance of retaining the integrity of fresh ingredients.

On his return to New York in the early 90’s, Bill worked with Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque and Gilbert Le Coze at Le Bernardin. Subsequently, he was hired by Alfred Portale at Gotham Bar & Grill, where he was Executive Sous Chef for four years. He moved on to become the Executive Chef at Ansonia. In 1998 Telepan joined JUdson Grill, earning Three Stars from The New York Times. He remained at JUdson until 2004. That same year in November, his cookbook, Inspired by Ingredients was published by Simon & Schuster.

In 2005 Bill opened Telepan Restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, celebrating seasonal, fresh and local ingredients. Since its opening Telepan has received glowing reviews and a Michelin Star in 2014.

Since 2008, he has been the Executive Chef of Wellness in the Schools (WITS), a non-profit organization dedicated to making school food healthy.  As the first chef to join the WITS team, Bill has served as a leader of the WITS Cook for Kids program by developing nutritious school menus, training cafeteria workers and teaching culinary and nutrition concepts to students, parents and teachers. In 2009, Bill was honored with a selection to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to School task force and preliminary conferences.

Bill currently lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and daughter.

Rachel Kibbe

rachelkibbeRachel Kibbe, founder of HELPSY, is currently based in New York City and was raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio. A freelance fashion writer and a bonafide social media nerd, she believes in the power of the internet to spread social good and to ignite change.  She has a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University. After a three year stint in Spain, where she wrote for a magazine about health and fashion, and forgot words in English, she moved to New York to attend Parsons. She apprenticed under labels such as Alexander Wang and Jack Spade. Later, model Agyness Deyn brought Rachel on to write  fashion content on her blog, NAAG. Rachel wants to be part of a positive change in the fashion industry, and she believes a more ethical industry doesn’t have to sacrifice visual appeal. She hopes HELPSY can provide a unique (and fun!) platform for this change.

Erika White

IMG_20141015_002104Erika Lauren White is a Business Strategist with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a top international commercial real estate solutions provider.  Within this capacity, Erika develops and drives JLL’s tri-state regional strategy for our $120M collective Brokerage, Capital Markets, Project Development Services, Property Management and Retail business, based on company revenue goals and trending industry, global economy and social paradigms.  Furthermore, she develops investment analyses for prospective JLL mergers and acquisitions and works with clients to align their business strategy with JLL services.  Previously, Erika was a Strategist in JLL’s San Francisco office for the Northwest region and a Financial Analyst in JLL’s DC office for Public Institutions clients including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the General Services Administration.  As sustainability has become an increasing requirement of JLL clients, she has worked across business lines to envision how JLL, JLL’s clients and cities can achieve their sustainability goals through their commercial real estate with maximum alignment to their core business.

Faith Taylor

Senior Vice President Global Corporate Responsibility Officer

Wyndham Worldwide, Parsippany, N.J.

Faith Taylor picFaith Taylor currently oversees Wyndham Worldwide Corporate Responsibility program’s policies and strategies which include sustainability, philanthropy, wellness, diversity, human rights, ethics and responsible sourcing.   The program is implemented across 40 hospitality brands, over 36,000 employees and over 100,000 locations in 100 countries. She has overseen the development of the company’s corporate policies, strategies, reporting and branding initiatives since she started the Wyndham Green program in 2006. She is Chair of the Sustainability Working Committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the USGBC of New Jersey. She is also a member of the International Tourism Partnership organizations where she has participated in setting industry standards like the Hotel Carbon Metric Initiative and policies. Wyndham is a recognized corporate leader working with the Clinton Global Initiative and the Obama Better Building Challenge in setting leading programs for the built environment. In 2014 the National Diversity Council named her “One of the Most Powerful Women in the Industry”.

Under her leadership in 2013 Wyndham was ranked as one of the top 50 Greenest Companies in America by Newsweek and in 2014 was recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as both World and North American leader in the Hotel, Resort and Cruise line sector and in 2014. CDP has recognized Wyndham as a leader in both performance and disclosure. In 2013, Wyndham Worldwide reduced their carbon emissions by 13% and water is down 16% globally and 25% of its $2.1 Billion supply chain has met the Wyndham Green criteria.  She also launched innovative programs such as Clear Air by Pure, an allergy free room program, the hospitality industry’s first green uniforms made out of plastic bottles with Cintas as well as participated in the Silver LEED certification of Wyndham’s corporate facilities. Taylor has experience in P&L management, new business and product development as well as marketing and strategic planning. She worked at Wyndham Hotel and Resorts where she was responsible for repositioning the brand through innovation and new product development programs. She also oversaw the repositioning, and marketing for the Ramada International brand. She has worked at Avon Inc., Apple Computer and International Home Foods. She has an MBA from Wharton business school and received a BA from Stanford University. She is married with two children. She was born in Japan and is of Asian and African American heritage.

One of the world’s largest hospitality companies, Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE: WYN) provides a wide range of hospitality products and services through its global portfolio of world-renowned brands.  The world’s largest hotel company based on the number of properties, Wyndham Hotel Group is home to many of the world’s best-known hotel brands, with approximately 7,490 franchised hotels and over 645,400 hotel rooms worldwide. Wyndham Exchange & Rentals is the worldwide leader in vacation exchange and the world’s largest professionally managed vacation rentals business, providing more than 5 million leisure-bound families annually with access to over 107,000 vacation properties in over 100 countries through its prominent exchange and vacation rental brands. The industry and timeshare ownership market leader, Wyndham Vacation Ownership develops, markets, and sells vacation ownership interests and provides consumer financing to owners through its network of over 190 vacation ownership resorts serving approximately 907,000 owners throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. Based in Parsippany, NJ, Wyndham Worldwide employs approximately 32,800 associates globally. For more information, please visit http://www.wyndhamworldwide.com/corporate-responsibility/wyndham-green.

Joel Towers

joel_towersJoel Towers is Executive Dean of Parsons The New School for Design, a role he has served since 2009. Towers has led the design and development of cutting-edge programs, curricular innovation, and the implementation of a new, more inclusive governance structure. He also serves as an Associate Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design.

Prior to his appointment, Joel was the Dean of the School of Design Strategies at Parsons, one of five schools that were formed as part of a major academic restructuring effort to foster cross-disciplinary learning. Under his leadership, the School of Design Strategies played a significant role in the development of new undergraduate programs in Urban Design and Environmental Studies as well as graduate programs in Transdisciplinary Design, Design and Urban Ecologies, Theories of Urban Practice, and Strategic Design and Management.

Towers came to The New School in 2004 as the first director of Sustainable Design and Urban Ecology. In 2006, he became the inaugural director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center and Associate Provost for Environmental Studies. In each of these roles he advanced institutional aims on a broad and ambitious scale, demonstrating a clear understanding of the shared intellectual paradigms emerging
between the liberal arts, social sciences, and design. A prime example of this approach was the university-wide Environmental Studies programs Towers helped to create in partnership with Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts.

Prior to joining The New School, Joel taught in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, developing cross-disciplinary teaching and research focused on sustainability and urban ecology in relation to urban design and architecture. A practicing architect for the past two decades, Joel co-founded the firm Sislian, Rothstein and Towers (SR+T Architects). For several
years the firm maintained offices in New York and Berlin. Today the work generated through SR+T continues in new collaborations that extend the realm of traditional practice into construction, materials development, real estate development, and sustainable design.

Joel received his Masters in Architecture from Columbia University and his B.S. in Architecture from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.