Net Impact Conference 2014

By Sarah Jilbert


Net Impact is a nation wide organization dedicated to creating positive social and environmental change in the school, workplace, and world. Every year they sponsor a conference where thousands of members from around the nation meet to discuss the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. 13 members of the sMBA cohort attended the 2014 conference in Minneapolis, MN where they, as well as the school, benefited greatly from their experiences.

These 13 individuals spent three days listening to numerous speakers, attending break out sessions, and interacting with students, young professionals, and employers. Students from other university’s were shocked that our sMBA students were completing an MBA in one year, and that their education focused on one of the main topics discussed throughout the conference, sustainability. Duquesne sMBA attendee, Caitlin Merritt, claimed she felt all of the sMBA attendees were way ahead of the game. They had already learned the sustainability concepts discussed and knew much more about the topics at hand compared to the other MBA students. Our students felt confident while speaking about what they had learned from the program and made Duquesne a school to talk about by the end of the weekend.

Our students took away a lot from the conference including confidence in how Duquesne’s program applies to real world application. Students also came home with many business cards and professional connections. For example, attendee Katherine Smith developed a mentor connection at the conference and still speaks to her today. The Net Impact Conference adds value to the sMBA education as well as shows Duquesne in a positive light.


Net Impact Conference Reflection


2013-2014 Net Impact Leadership Team

Throughout my life, I have wanted to be in a high impact role where I could have a positive effect on individuals or society as a whole.  Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Net Impact conference in Silicon Valley.  Net Impact is an organization focused on creating positive social and environmental change in the workplace and the world.  This organization’s mission parallels my personal vision, and I am very thankful that our MBA program sent our Net Impact Chapter officers to this inspiring conference.

At the conference, over 3,000 students and professionals came together with a shared vision to act as change agents through business.  Conference speakers were volunteers from prominent organizations, including: Starbucks, Sprint, SAP, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Timberland, TOMS, Nestle, Walt Disney, Best Buy, Target, etc.  I found myself among companies that shared the values that I hold dear to my heart.

The conference affirmed that, through business,  I will be able to impact society – whether through sustainable supply chain solutions, corporate citizenship initiatives, social entrepreneurship or  as the corporate “intraprenuer” who promotes culture change.  Regardless of career path, I plan to be a change agent just like the other attendees.  It was exciting to find that I am not alone.

8th Annual North American Passive House Conference

Last Friday, Matt Lepri, a student in our cohort, attended the North American Passive House Conference.  Matt is a sustainability fellow who focuses on sustainable building techniques in his research work with Dr. Sroufe.

Passive House is a new building design technique developed in Germany that captures solar energy and applies it throughout the building through use of high performance windows, innovative insulation, balanced energy ventilation, and thermal bridging.  PH can decrease energy use in a building up to 90%.

Europe already has over 15,000 buildings that have been Passive House certified. The U.S. has been slow to adopt, but about 100 PH buildings, nearly all residential, are constructed or being built at the moment.

At the conference, Matt spent time with Craig Stevenson, executive vice president of James Construction, a regional firm that offers general construction, design-build and related services for Government, Civic, Healthcare, Commercial and Retail markets. A Duquesne MBA alumnus, Craig is a member of our MBA advisory board and an active supporter of the sustainability initiatives at Duquesne. Craig has offered to be a resource for Matt as he digs deeper into his fellowship work.

According to Matt, “Mr. Stevenson is one of the very few commercial contractors/builders in the country who has passed the rigorous training program, making him a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC).  He is extremely knowledgeable in low energy building design techniques and spent almost every available minute in between presenters on Friday helping me understand the technical details of low energy and Passive House design.”

For more information on the Passive House Conference or PH, visit this website: