Corporate Social Responsibility: Business Conference

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STAY TUNED for the 2020 conference details

LOCATION: Holiday Inn, Downtown Tacoma

Return on Social Responsibility 

Photo Archive 2019

Every year the Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility hosts a business conference for students, professionals, and nonprofit leaders to discuss emerging innovative ideas and findings to create enhanced business models and policies that positively affect the triple bottom line. This year on Thursday, May 2nd 2019, the event was held at Cedarbrook Lodge in Seattle. We give thanks to our primary sponsor Subaru and to the supporting companies that were present including Global Strategy Group.

Conference Program

Return on Social Investment and Activities

Milgard Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility

Conference on Social Responsibility

Thursday, May 2, 2019


8:00-8:45 - Networking Breakfast

An opportunity for attendees to meet informally and begin discussions before the day.

8:45-9:30 - Opening Keynote Address: Sally Jewell, Business and  the Future of our Planet

Sally Jewel

Sally Jewell has had a diverse and unusual career, beginning as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, spanning multiple roles in commercial banking, leading outdoor retailer REI, and serving in President Obama’s cabinet as Secretary of the Interior. She has been an active volunteer over the course of her career in environmental, educational, social service and business organizations that have shaped her life and given her an appreciation of the inner workings of our democracy and civil society. Jewell completed a fellowship at Harvard in the fall of 2017, and is now a distinguished fellow at the University of Washington where she is working across disciplines to help students and faculty understand how their diverse skills are essential to shaping a future that is both economically successful and environmentally sustainable.

9:30-10:15 - Discussion on Veterans and CSR, led by Matt Kress, Starbucks

Matt Kress

Matt Kress leads the Veterans and Military Affairs (VAMA) program at Starbucks Coffee Company, with a focus on strategic relationships and national partnerships. Prior to his position at Starbucks, he served in the Marine Corps for 22 years as an enlisted Marine and commissioned officer in both active duty and reserve assignments. After leaving active duty, he spent 10 years as a Firefighter/EMT in Southern California while specializing in crisis and disaster management in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Matt has an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and a Masters in Strategic Planning for Critical Infrastructures from the University of Washington.

10:15-11:15 - Panel on CSR Reports and their Audit, led by Professor Shahrokh Saudagaran

Shahrokh Saudagaran

This panel discussion will be led by Professor Shahrokh Saudagaran and  include Sherri Hart from Microsoft and Laurie Tish  from Moss Adams. We will examine the economic rationale for companies to prepare a CSR report and to have their CSR report audited.

Shahrokh M. Saudagaran is a Professor of Accounting and the Director of the Center for Leadership & Social Responsibility at the Milgard School of Business at the University of Washington Tacoma. He served as the Gary E. and James A. Milgard Endowed Dean of the Milgard School of Business from 2004 to 2015. He is Secretary General of the Asian Academic Accounting Association and Past President of the American Accounting Association's International Accounting Section. Shahrokh has been recognized for his research on the impact of accounting diversity on global capital markets, and financial reporting in emerging markets, particularly those in Asia.

11:15-Noon - Social Responsibility of Pierce County led by Betty Nokes-Capestany & Bruce Kendall

Betty Nokes-Capestany

Betty Nokes-Capestany is the Executive Director of Economic Development of Pierce County. Previously, she led economic development in Bellevue for 17 years as the CEO of the Bellevue Chamber. With the community top of mind, Nokes-Capestany focuses on jobs and investment in a socially responsible Pierce County and the South Sound.

Bruce Kendall is the President & CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County (EDB); a position he has held since 1999.  The EDB is a private, non-profit corporation focused on the retention and recruitment of primary businesses in Tacoma and Pierce County, Washington USA.

Over the past 10 years the EDB team has worked with companies that have invested more than one billion dollars in Pierce County and created more than 14,000 jobs.  Key wins include: Toray, Mitsui-Soko, GKN Aerospace, Infoblox, NewCold, Niagara, James Hardie, Amazon, Milgard, Burkhart, Sierra Pacific, and many others.

Bruce serves on the following boards: Institute of Technology at University of Washington Tacoma, Washington Economic Development Association, Aerospace Futures Alliance, Central Puget Sound Economic Development District, and Tacoma-Pierce County Workforce Development Council. 

Mr. Kendall received his undergraduate degree from Whitman College and earned a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington.

12:00-1:00 - Lunch Keynote: Ed Martin, Gender and Social Responsibility 

Ed Martin

Ed Martin is the Chief OmniWin Officer of the 5thelement Group, and is a former CSR executive with Ford and Hershey. He is on the board of the Peace Research Endowment focused on academic and policy research and implementation to mitigate global conflict and is Senior Advisor to the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He has partnered with Richard Saul Wurman (founder TED talks) on historic initiative ...555 ..."finding the future first.” Martin was also an Advisor to the State Department and USAID on the Global Diaspora Initiative and on the Executive Board of the Congressional Coalition For Adoption Institute ( working with members of the Congress and Senate to shape policy to best fulfill the needs of children around the world for “forever families”.

1:00-1:15 - Issues with CSR Reports, Daniel Eatherly

Daniel Eatherly

Daniel Eatherly is a Senior in Management at the Milgard School of Business with a focus on corporate social responsibility. He is a student director of Legislative Affairs at UW Tacoma and will discuss his research and other findings on companies and CSR reports.

1:15 – 2:00 – CSR Programs that Work led by Elissa Fisher-Harris & Mark Sadovnick

Elissa Fisher-Harris

Elissa Fisher-Harris, based in Los Angeles, is Chief Impact Officer of 5th Element Group PBC. 5th Element is a global business development accelerator with a mission of delivering frontier technology solutions that achieves the Sustainable Development Goals. 5th Element creates capital that did not exist before, deploys that capital where it has yet to be deployed and scales new forms of corresponding collaboration. 5th Element’s vision is to help create a new socio-economic era that closes historic gaps in last-mile inclusion.

Fisher-Harris an experienced Well-Being and Social Impact strategist in Health, Wellness and Natural Products Industries and a well-being lifestyle expert brand spokesperson. With a 28 year career and personal history establishing herself as a well-being/purpose expert, Elissa's vast knowledge, hands on experience with individuals and corporations and her intuitive understanding of consumer and company needs led to additional acquired skill sets in marketing, branding, consumer communications, sales management, business development, public speaking and brand education for both public and trade audiences. Elissa has owned a Healthy Living Strategy Consulting company for 25 years. Holding dual certifications in Corporate Wellness and Individual Wellness Coaching, she developed integrative healthy living programs for individuals & corporations. For 10 of those years Elissa also advocated for cancer patients and their families, educating them about healthy living and integrative medical care and matching them with licensed integrative health care professionals and centers all over the world. She has also been invited to speak at multiple organizations and events about her life story and all topics related to achieving sustainable physical, emotional and environmental health and well-being. Elissa’s passion for all things wellness and healthy living was a direct result of resolving her own health issues in her 20’s then later in life by the age of 34 losing 2 husbands to the same rare cancer that only affects 10,000 per year in the U.S. and is often attributed to environmental causes and toxic foods. Elissa’s extraordinary knowledge of all things health and wellness, combined with her warm, genuine and inviting personality that connects well to all audiences led to regular monthly guest spots as corporate/individual health & wellness expert and brand wellness spokesperson on nationally syndicated radio shows like Business Rockstars and Let’s Talk Nutrition.

Mark Sadovnick​

Quoting Maya Angelou often,"people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel", Mark has built a reputation over 30 years for trust, commitment and ability to make a difference with management, the individual candidates and their families, all human beings. By engaging with Leaders Who Care™, everyone has the opportunity to then also remember the important things said and the experiences past and future.

Recognized by Business Week as one of 150 most influential headhunters in the world, Mark

gained business and international awareness and relationships, from his experiences with Deloitte, Jaycees International, and two search firms, boutique and global.

Mark was the only executive search consultant invited to the United Nations to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and be a Founding Signatory to the “Decade of Women”.

Mark sits on the Boards of World Trade Center Los Angeles, Athena International, Million Peacemakers (“Nonflict”), World Language Communications, and VerdeXchange Institute. He has been involved in many Sports & Entertainment projects, including SportsFund, and owning professional cycling and roller hockey teams. He is a Chartered Accountant, graduating from McGill University in Montreal. Mark is most proud of his three sons, and when given a chance, will certainly tell you about them.

2:00 – 2:40 – Subaru: Being a Community Partner vs. Hero

Subaru logo

For decades Subaru of America has had a large presence in the Camden, NJ community. This presence grew when the company moved its headquarters from Cherry Hill to Camden last year. In this moderated fireside chat, Sandy will discuss Subaru’s approach to impacting a community in an intentional way – how to avoid the pitfall of swooping in as the community’s much needed hero, but instead building it up through existing community-based partnerships.

Sandy Capell, Philanthropy and Corporate Responsibility Manager at Subaru of America, Inc.

Throughout her 25+ years with Subaru, Sandy has used her passion for building authentic partnerships with individuals and communities in leadership roles in sales, the company’s executive suite, Human Resources and corporate communications.. In her current role, she is responsible for managing Subaru of America’s corporate giving program, including administration and strategic planning for the Subaru of America Foundation, implementing employee volunteer programs, maintaining partnerships with community organizations and directing communications for all corporate responsibility activities. Sandy also oversee Subaru’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts and is an active member of Subaru’s Corporate Responsibility and North American CSR Committees. 

2:40 – 2:50 – Break

2:50 – 3:50 CSR Trends: Futureproofing Your Brand

Katie SecristRuth Lee

With Katie Secrist and Ruth Lee

Led by noted CSR professional, Kevin Wilhelm, Sustainable Business Consulting consultants are strategic advisors that inspire and empower business to drive positive impact. The company integrates sustainability to drive innovation, uncover opportunities and enhance brand value. Their work helps companies build capacity and connect to the global movement.

3:50 – 4:45 GSG Session: Doing Business In an Activist World

Josh Cahitin

GSG Session: Doing Business In an Activist World

GSG’s 6th annual report finds that Americans have a growing appetite to take action on issues and drive change…and expect brands to do the same. At a time when companies are already playing a visible and active role on issues at the center of the public debate, how can they seize the opportunity to harness this new public enthusiasm while balancing the risk and reward? Get a deeper understanding of the risks involved in not speaking out on social issues and how to determine where your company should be a voice in the conversation.

Josh Chaitin, Senior Vice President of Corporate Impact Practice and Managing Director of the Seattle office at Global Strategy Group

Throughout his career, Josh has helped develop and launch campaigns across a broad range of industries, including outdoor recreation, real estate, apparel, automotive, technology, food, health and wellness and many others. He has worked with emerging brands like Theo Chocolate, established brands like Subaru of America and Nordstrom, and institutions like The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to address a broad range of issues, from access to health care, to creating opportunities for underserved communities, to advocating for the protection of public lands.

Josh led Edelman’s Business + Social Purpose practice group in Seattle, where he helped launch REI’s #OptOutside campaign. He has helped companies like Vulcan demonstrate their commitment to sustainability through their redevelopment of Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and has helped organizations like FSG work with business leaders to create meaningful career opportunities for populations that have traditionally faced barriers to employment.

4:45 – 4:55 Wrap-up by Stan Emert

Stan Emert, Milgard Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility

The Emcee and a moderator for today’s conference, Emert is the interim executive director of the Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility. He started the CSR group at Symetra Financial and led the company to regional and national awards in sustainability.

Emert is the creator of RAINMAKERS.TV, a nonprofit documentary and interview TV/video series that celebrates the successes of people at all levels of the economic pyramid. His interview subjects include a wide variety of people from government, media, NGOs, authors, celebrities, etc.

Finally, Emert is a global business and communications veteran. He consults with National Standard Finance on placing profitable, job-creating green technologies in developing countries.

He has spoken on business social responsibility before the World Bank, the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Film Institute, and to many other significant audiences around the US.

5:00 Reception

Highlights from our March 2016 conference.

Highlights from our March 2015 conference.