Yale School of Management

YESS 2015: Promoting Community and Environmental Action

On November 6 and 7, the Yale School of Management and School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES) will host the Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (YESS).

September 16, 2015

An “eco-Davos” gathering aimed at promoting community and environmental action, YESS will bring together more than 300 Yale alumni, students, faculty, and outside experts to scale up solutions at the nexus of food, energy, and water.

Carlos Pineda SOM/FES ’00

YESS has its roots in an impassioned group of FES/SOM joint-degree alumni who first gathered in 2006 to reconnect and collaborate across their respective fields.

In a recent interview, Carlos Pineda, ’00 MBA/MEM, FES Alumni Board Member, and CEO/co-founder of Foresight Renewable Solutions in San Francisco discussed the motivation and vision behind this first-of-its kind Yale event.

Pineda explained that as he gathered with a small group of joint-degree alumni each year to innovate around sustainability, they realized the potential for something much, much greater.

“The Yale community plays an outsized role in creating approaches to solving environmental challenges and building effective organizations that advance business, policy, and technology, but we didn’t have a broad forum to connect,” he said.

Pineda envisions that YESS will give Yale alumni a new platform for collaboration, bring together thought and action leaders, and spark opportunities to scale up emerging ideas for our world’s most pressing resource and climate issues.

With keynote speakers to include Tom Steyer, president of NextGen Climate; Fred Krupp, president of  Environmental Defense Fund; and Frances Beinecke, former NRDC president; among many others, Pineda’s vision is coming to fruition.

Challenges and Opportunities

However, after a year of effort laying the institutional groundwork for YESS, and just as planning for YESS was gathering momentum in December 2014, Pineda received some bad news: he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, and one specialty clinic after another told him that his condition was inoperable. Facing what the doctors said was a bleak and low-probability outlook, Pineda and his family kept fighting.

“There were some pretty dark days as recently as just a few months ago, but any suggestion of accepting the situation and not pushing forward was out of the question. For better or worse, it’s just not in my DNA,” he said.

Despite these odds, with other treatment and his unwavering determination, Pineda’s condition is undergoing an almost unheard-of turnaround. He has been scheduled mid-September for a major surgery, and if successful, has an excellent chance to be cancer-free and on a full road to recovery.

“I can say that I am as happy as I have ever been in my life, in many ways happier. I have an amazing wife, family, friends, and colleagues. Being showered with the love and support of so many while facing one’s own mortality is a poignant and humbling event. It has opened a space of immense gratitude and reinforced a daily experience with being alive. We’re going to have a successful surgery and a full recovery,” he said.  

As of writing this article, we have learned that Carlos Pineda’s surgery on September 14 went well, and he is recovering nicely at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California.

What’s Next?

Pineda said he enthusiastically anticipates attending the premiere YESS event and looks forward to reconnecting with his peers and colleagues in a few short months.

What does Pineda hope the ultimate result of YESS will be? Outcomes include concrete initiatives, new businesses, and a heightened sense of community and ownership of Yale’s leadership in the many sectors whose mission involves protecting our planet for future generations.

“The environment is one of the cornerstone issues of this century. The Yale community has something very unique and strong to contribute to it, and needs to work more in concert. Let’s bring everyone together and see what we can do. The Planning Committee that has stepped in to lead YESS and make this a high-profile and uniquely Yale event deserve all the credit for turning this vision into a reality,” he said.

Find the complete YESS 2015 speaker lineup here. Registration for YESS has been filling quickly. For more information, please visit the website, follow us on Twitter, or email yaleenvirosustsummit@gmail.com.

Joint Degree
About the author

Fedor Petrenko

Fedor Petrenko is a second-year MBA student at the Yale School of Management with a focus on clean energy finance. He is a YESS co-organizer and communications lead and also writes for the Yale Clean Energy Finance Forum.