Public Lectures

Acterra’s public lectures feature prominent voices from the environmental sector, addressing global issues at a scale that is relevant for our region. Acterra’s lectures inform and inspire, connecting our community directly to the climate change conversations that matter most.

Our lectures take place at The Foster Art & Wilderness Foundation, 940 Commercial St, Palo Alto. They are open to the public, and cost $10 to attend. For an annual membership starting at $40, you can get free access to our public lecture series for one year. We also offer free access to all students.

We look forward to seeing you at any or all of our upcoming lectures!

Fall 2019 Lectures

Bill Weihl
From Action to Advocacy: "One Giant Leap for Mankind" that Companies Need to Take on Climate

Wednesday, October 16, 7:30 PM
Reception and gallery walk-through at 6:30 pm

Companies have led the way in the last decade on climate action - decarbonizing their operations at a rapid clip. And yet, global emissions are still rising, when they need to be falling to have a hope of keeping warming below 1.5 deg C. We need policies that set the market rules to rapidly scale solutions beyond the few early adopters to the entire economy - and to do it in a just and equitable way. It's time for companies to step up and make the "giant leap" to be strong and consistent advocates for science-based climate policies. We'll discuss what that looks like, and how companies can work together to drive rapid progress.

From 2012 to 2018, Bill Weihl was Director of Sustainability at Facebook.  He built a team that directs work on sustainability and energy efficiency across the company, driving projects to track and reduce the company's environmental footprint in all aspects of its operations.  They also drove cross-industry collaborations, including playing critical roles in RE100 and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance. 
Prior to Facebook, Bill was Green Energy Czar at Google, where his team pioneered Google’s work to buy clean energy for its data centers, and helped found the Climate Savers Computing Initiative with Intel and WWF.  In 2009, he was honored by Time Magazine as one of their Heroes of the Environment in recognition of the work he and his colleagues did at Google, in 2016 he was honored with the Global Green Award for environmental leadership, and in 2018 he was honored by Greenbiz with the VERGE Vanguard Award.  Earlier in his career, Bill was a Professor of Computer Science at MIT, a researcher at Digital's Systems Research Center, and CTO of Akamai Technologies.  He holds an SB degree in Mathematics, as well as SB, SM, and PhD degrees in Computer Science, all from MIT.


Jill Gibson
BART Extension and the Transformation of the South Bay

Wednesday, November 20, 7:30 pm
Reception and gallery walk-through at 6:30 pm

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) BART Phase II Extension will bring BART to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, connecting to CalTrain – creating a continuous rail link around the entire San Francisco Bay. The Phase II project was recently approved by the Federal Transit Administration into its new Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program, which is intended to promote public-private partnerships in the development of major transit investments and to accelerate implementation. Come learn about the work being done to transform the South Bay into Transit Oriented Communities, which are sustainable, walkable, active, mixed use communities all centered around the future BART stations.

Jill Gibson is a transportation and urban planner for the engineering firm Kimley-Horn, working on-site at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) to help the agency implement the BART Silicon Valley (BSV) Extension. She has extensive experience in program and project management for large transportation planning, transit, and environmental projects. Jill has detailed knowledge of CEQA/NEPA, capital project development and project delivery, including multimodal transportation planning, and community and political engagement. She also has led teams managing large transportation and environmental planning projects, including long-term collaborative efforts with stakeholders.


Series Underwriters: 
Mary & Clinton Gilliland
Armand and Eliane Neukermans


Series Sponsors:

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Past Lectures — Spring 2019

Youth Panel on Environmental Action

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Wednesday, March 20th, 7:30 pm

Increasingly, young participants are choosing to shape political and social discussions, and in the climate change arena, legions of young people have mobilized to demand social, environmental, and economic progress. Our panelists will explain how they have created momentum around their personal convictions through social networks, community organizing, and entrepreneurship.

Kristy Drutman (moderator) is a digital strategist and the host of Brown Girl Green, a podcast and media series dedicated to critical conversations around building an environmentally just society. Kristy interviews environmental rights leaders on their visions for a sustainable world for future generations. She also advocates for increased diversity and inclusiveness in the environmental movement. As a Filipina American, Kristy is inspired to change the image of what it means to be an environmentalist in the 21st century.

Cambria Bartlett is a member of the founding chapter of Heirs To Our Oceans (H2OO) studying the impacts of oil consumption, climate change and pollution as they relate to plastic production and disposal. To make change in the world, Cambria is committed to growing her abilities by studying empathetic leadership and human impact issues that face our blue planet. H2OO supports these goals and other global youth in their journey of being leaders who value a sustainable future. Through the Heirs To Our Oceans movement, Cambria has gained access to speak with adults and other youth about her passion: preventing all forms of plastic pollution - on land, in the water and in the air.

Octavia “Shay” Barton leads the Pescadero chapter of Heirs to Our Oceans. Shay is committed to understanding the impacts of climate change on our planet, especially on the communities most at risk. Her research on these issues, coupled with outreach to local and national experts, have deepened her perspective on the crisis that ocean waters face. Shay has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally on the subjects of plastic pollution, climate change, and vulnerable communities. She has led her chapter in successfully phasing out single-use plastics from her school and her community, and now her chapter is working toward solar power for the school.

Mercedes Thompson is a first-year student at Stanford University pursuing a B.S. in Earth Systems. She co-founded the youth-led organization, Baltimore Beyond Plastic, in her junior year of high school. Working with hundreds of students across Baltimore, Baltimore Beyond Plastic pursued a legislative campaign that resulted in the Baltimore City Council unanimously passing a styrofoam ban. Subsequently styrofoam trays were replaced with compostable products in all 182 schools in the school district.


Khalid Kadir
Innovating our way to environmental justice? Tensions and paradoxes in our efforts to combat climate change.

Wednesday, April 24th, 7:30pm

Khalid Kadir is a Professor and Program Director at Presidio Graduate School, teaching Economy and Society at both the San Francisco and Seattle campuses. Khalid's teaching and program development takes an inter-sectoral approach to understanding sustainability and social justice problems facing the world today. His work on curriculum design at Presidio Graduate School builds on his experience creating an innovative interdisciplinary engineering course at UC Berkeley that trains future engineers to engage with the social and political roots of their technical work. In recognition of this work, Khalid was awarded the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Public Service for Service-Learning Leadership. In addition to his teaching, Khalid has consulted with various non-profit organizations on environmental sustainability, water, sanitation, and poverty, with an eye towards addressing the needs of marginalized communities.


Annie Notthoff in conversation with Max Baumhefner
Climate leadership and the future of transportation in California

Tuesday, May 14, 7:30 pm

Annie Notthoff is the Senior Western Advocacy Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in San Francisco and Sacramento, working on a broad range of initiatives to promote climate action, public health and environmental protection. She led NRDC’s efforts to get many of California’s nationally significant environmental laws enacted including: the Marine Life Protection Act (1999), Pavley Clean Car bill (2002), Global Warming Solutions Act (2006), climate and land use (2008), water policy reforms (2009), Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act (2015), 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets and Equity (2016), and extending California’s price on carbon to 2030 and strengthening local air quality controls (2017). In 2015, Ms. Notthoff was honored to receive a CLCV Northern California Environmental Leadership Award.

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Max Baumhefner is Senior Attorney with the Climate and Clean Energy Program at NRDC, based in San Francisco. Mr. Baumhefner works to make our nation’s cars, trucks, and buses zero emission vehicles. He focuses on electrifying the transportation sector in a manner that also accelerates the transition to a smarter, more affordable electric grid powered by renewable resources.


Fall 2018

Ertharin Cousin
Food Insecurity, Climate Change, and Conflict

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Ertharin Cousin is the former executive director of the World Food Programme and US ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, nominated by President Obama. In these roles, she led efforts to address issues related to nutrition and agriculture, including the relationship between climate change and food insecurity. An expert and pioneer in addressing global hunger, she has been listed as one of Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” and TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.” Currently, she is serving as the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford.


David Hochschild
Sunrise from the West

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David Hochschild was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Energy Commission in February 2013 and fills the environmental position on the Commission. In 2001, as Special Assistant to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, he launched a citywide $100 million initiative to put solar panels on public buildings. He went on to co-found the Vote Solar Initiative, an organization advocating for local, state, and federal solar policies. In the private sector, he served as executive director of a national consortium of leading solar manufacturers and worked for five years at Solaria, a solar company in Silicon Valley. In 2007-2008, he served as a commissioner at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.


Eugene Cordero
How education can impact long-term carbon emissions—one burrito at a time

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Eugene Cordero is a climate scientist and professor in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San José State University. Eugene’s science research is focused on understanding the processes responsible for long-term changes in climate through the use of observations and atmospheric models. Eugene is also interested in the design of educational experiences that encourage social change in students to produce environmental benefits. Currently, Eugene is the founder and director of Green Ninja (, an enterprise that creates educational experiences to help students design a more sustainable world. With special guest Anne Lee, founder of the student group Schools Under 2C.

Past Lectures