About Green Business Networking
Green Business Networking was formed in 2005 when a small group of business leaders began meeting informally to discuss ways to work together to advance green, sustainability and wellness ideas and businesses. The group grew quickly, and now boasts participation from over 3,500 business leaders, entrepreneurs, consultants and evangelists in the Los Angeles area. Yet despite this growth, it strives to remain a place where doers can go to meet like-minded people in a relaxed atmosphere.
Green Business Networking is the LA County Network for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, operates as a non-profit under the umbrella of the Earthways Foundation, and is currently lead by Greg Wendt, Ferris Kawar, and Benjamin Shakin.
Greg Wendt (Co-Founder, Steering Committee Chair)
As a veteran financial advisor, economist and Certified Financial Planner, Greg is considered a thought leader in his field of sustainable and responsible investing. Greg is Senior Wealth Advisor with StakeHolders Capital - Socially Responsible Wealth Management. Since 1991 He advises clients who want to align their wealth through investments that reflect their priorities and concerns for a better world. Greg built his expertise while working with major Wall Street firms such as Smith Barney, UBS Paine Webber and Prudential Securities and EP Wealth Advisors, Inc. Greg is Founder of two non-profit efforts Green Business Networking and Green Economy Think Tank.
Greg frequently writes articles, speaks at conferences and is often profiled or quoted in media including appearances or articles in"Business Rockstars" on KFWB News 980 Radio, “Living with Ed” on Home and Garden Television, Air America Radio, Business Ethics magazine, Daily Variety, Los Angeles Times, Financial Planning Magazine and Yogi Times Magazine.
Greg is a member of the California Financial Opportunities Roundtable, a select group of experts convened by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the USDA Economic Development to address the financial needs of communities in California. As a strategic advisor, he's helped several startups with strategic business planning, market development and partnerships.
Benjamin Shakin (Program Director)
Benjamin Shakin is founder and president of Sprout Business Consulting - consulting and virtual incubation for startup and growth companies and non-profit organizations making a positive impact in the world. Sprout Business helps passionate entrepreneurs polish and realize their visions by providing experience, resources, relationships and critical support where they are most needed, and also provides grant writing expertise for promising non-profits. Benjamin is a member of the Green Business Networking steering committee, and the Los Angeles county Business Alliance for Local Living Economies launch committee.
Benjamin earned his Masters of Business Administration from USC's Marshall School of Business, and his BA in Philosophy from New York University. He has 10+ years experience in retail and B2B sales, marketing and business development, and 20+ years in startup, early stage and growth company management. You can reach him through Sprout Business and LinkedIn.
Robin Shank (Operations Director)
Robin Shank is an experienced operations manager with a passion for getting work done by being mindful of people and planet. After receiving her MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in 2011, Robin is the West Coast Operations Manager for StakeHolders Capital, and has worked in operations management, marketing, PR and as event staff for Green Economy Think Tank, Green Business Networking, Green Festival (first LA Festival), Good Food Festival (inaugural LA event) and as research specialist for Practice Greenhealth (a non-profit providing sustainability support to hospitals and medical centers). This augments a substantial resume of positions with increasing responsibility in operations management, production and distribution for the nation’s leading newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and LAWeekly (the definitive source for information in Los Angeles).
Ferris Kawar (Steering Committee Member)
Ferris Kawar is currently the Recycling Specialist for the City of Burbank and a LEED AP. Before going to work for the City, Ferris was the VP of Sustainability and co-founder of Greenopia, a consumer-friendly directory designed to help individuals easily locate local eco-friendly alternatives to the products and services they use every day. Prior to Greenopia he was the Residential Program Coordinator for Sustainable Works, a non-profit environmental education organization that was tasked with promoting sustainability to residents and businesses in Santa Monica.
Armed with a degree in Marketing and experience from a previous career in advertising in San Francisco, Ferris has found his home in Los Angeles where he is an active leader in the green business movement. He sits on the board of advisors for Sustainable Works, is a member of Green Business Networking’s steering committee and previously sat on the Venice Neighborhood Councils Environmental Committee.
Jeff Hayes (Co-Founder)
Jeff and his GBN co-founder Greg met at a networking event in Venice, CA back in 2005. Greg had organized that diggy auto insurance event and as the room filled-up the challenge of welcoming his guests while taking care of business was getting away from him. Noticing this, Jeff stepped up to help. Greg poured the wine while Jeff collected the admissions - and Green Business Networking was born.
Jeff's clients call him "the make-it-happen guy", and his professional focus is on boosting the bottom line performance of socially-conscious businesses. He excels in strategic planning, execution, leadership coaching, and business development. Jeff's skill-set also includes improving corporate environmental performance. In 2012, he ran the team that produced a first-in-industry sustainability report, issuing the report at Level C+ under the Global Reporting Initiative framework.
In 2011 Jeff's business partner bought-out his interest in the consulting firm The Vector Group, and he moved to Seattle with his wife Julie. Now he's doing Sales and Marketing for CSRHub, while also providing a 'business development toolkit' and business networking workshop series called Send the Right Signals to entrepreneurs and service providers in the Northwest.