Prominent speakers highlight this year’s Energy Fair

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl 

The Illinois Renewable Energy and Lifestyle Fair is known for having excellent speakers. Again this year, there will be many fine programs. Keynote and featured speakers are taking positive actions to help the environment and people in our area.

The keynote speaker this year is Tamara Dzubay, a Clean Energy and Sustainable Business Specialist working on the Environmental Law and Policy Center’s (ELPC’s) clean energy finance and other sustainable business initiatives. Her work focuses primarily on energy efficiency, electric vehicles and other innovation strategies. She previously worked at UPC Solar and Credit Suisse as a financial analyst and engaged in financial and business development positions for the Latham & Watkins law firm and Mark Cunningham Inc. in New York City. She is a member of Illinois State University’s Renewable Energy Advisory Board. Tamara has a BBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and an MBA in finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) “is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.” ( With offices in eight states, it has achieved striking successes. Ms. Dzubay, will Focus on the ELPC’s major current efforts, including ELPC’s work on advancing energy efficiency in Illinois, Illinois solar and community solar and the job creation potential of the clean energy industry in Illinois. ELPC is releasing a report highlighting all businesses in Illinois engaged in the clean energy supply chain in September; she will provide an overview of the report’s highlights. She will also discuss the VW settlement and clean air/clean transportation initiatives on which she is working. (Saturday, noon.)

Featured speakers have been with the fair for years, each time making a new presentation focusing on a different aspect of their activities.

Dan Kenney is the founder and Executive Director of DeKalb County Community Gardens and the President of the Board for Barb Food Mart, a school based food pantry. He serves as chair of the City of DeKalb Citizens’ Environmental Commission, is a Board Member of the DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District and a Board Member of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. His program will focus on the local food movement and what it means for the local environment and economy. (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.)

Steve John is the co-founder and executive director of the Agricultural Watershed Institute, a nonprofit organization established in 2003. AWI’s mission is to conduct research and educational programs on practices and policies that improve water quality, maintain or restore ecosystem health, and conserve land and water resources in agricultural watersheds. Mr. John manages AWI’s work on perennial biomass crops for co-production of agricultural goods and environmental services including water quality, soil health, wildlife habitat, and greenhouse gas reduction. This includes outreach and technical assistance to current or potential producers of perennial crops; on-farm research and demonstration of cropping systems to maximize water quality benefits of saturation-tolerant perennials combined with drainage modifications; and collaboration with public and private sector organizations to develop supply chains and markets for perennial biomass. He will present a future vision of perennial biomass crops grown for forage and bioenergy plus environmental services. (Sunday, 11:45 a.m.)

Jack and Judy Speer are members of the oak savanna community near the headwaters of the Nippersink Creek in northern Illinois. Inspired by this globally-endangered ecosystem, they promote mutually beneficial relationships between humans and the rest of the natural world through their nonprofit organization Small Waters Education. They engage minds, hearts and souls with their educational programs in ecological restoration, permaculture, and deep ecology. They put all of these into practice in their home landscape, which supports biodiversity as well as fruits, vegetables and herbs. One of their current passions is creating school gardens to link students with native plants, insects, birds and other wild creatures. They will speak on planting a garden to save pollinators (Saturday, 1:15 p.m.) and telling the Universe story for a sustainable future. (Saturday, 3:45 p.m.)

Dr. Philip Whitford is a retired biology professor who spent his childhood summers in Marquette County, Wisc., also known as Aldo Leopold’s “Sand County.” He is a well known expert on wild goose behavior as well as having studied coral reefs with his students for many years. His presentation will add a new dimension to prior talks by incorporating discussion of how competition between nations for specific fishing rights may encourage intentional over harvest of limited fish populations with hopes of driving other countries away, and making it possible to claim mineral and oil rights at those sites. Coupled with disclaiming science as fact, generates a government that dismisses sustainable harvest and resource protection as necessary for providing a stable fishery for the future, especially coupled with greed of individual fishermen and corporations for immediate profits without thinking about future resource needs. (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.)

This year’s fair is coming Aug. 19-20. The major sponsor of the Fair is the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. We appreciate the support of The Rock River Times. R.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are the President and Vice President of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association.

You might also like