2017 Illinois Sustainability Awards Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Rich Berger

Rich Berger

Rich Berger is Vice President of Engineering, Food Supply for Clif Bar & Company, a leading maker of nutritious and organic foods and drink for people on-the-go. Guided by the company’s five bottom lines – Sustaining our Brands, our Business, our People, our Community and the Planet – he oversees the design and build of Clif Bar’s self-manufacturing facilities.

Rich joined Clif Bar & Company in January of 2014 and has worked alongside the Food Supply team to ensure its facilities are designed to meet the high standards set by the company.

Prior to Clif Bar, Rich worked as the director of engineering for Bimbo Bakeries USA, the Sara Lee Corporation, EarthGrains Baking Companies, and Anheuser-Busch Breweries. His experience, coupled with his knowledge of facility improvement and greenfield construction projects, has been invaluable to Clif Bar & Company’s ongoing sustainability efforts.

Rich is the recipient of Sara Lee’s “Get It Great” award; Sara Lee’s highest level of employee recognition. Baking & Snack Magazine named him its “2003 Rising Star”. In addition to Rich’s many accolades, he was awarded a US patent for “The Method and Apparatus for Making Sliced Bread Loaves Crustless”.

Rich serves on the Missouri University of Science & Technology’s Advisory Council- his alma mater where he received a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of California Berkeley’s College of Engineering, a Resident of Kansas State's AIB Certified Baker Program, a delegate of BEMA's Baking Industry Forum, a Certified EIT Professional Engineer in State of Missouri, former officer of the American Society of Baking, and a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturer's Association, LEED Professionals, The Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure, the National Association of Corrosion Engineers, the Baker's Dozen, and Past Board Member of St. Alban Roe Catholic School. Rich has given numerous speeches regarding his project management and life experiences to the American Society of Baking, the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacture’s Association and the Baking Industry Forum.

Rich resides in San Francisco, CA with his wife and two children. In his spare time, he enjoys training for triathlons and spending time outdoors with his family.

Nancy Liaboe

Nancy Liaboe

Nancy Liaboe is the Director, Global Commercial Environment, Health and Safety at Abbott with responsibility for over 30,000 commercial employees worldwide. Nancy joined Abbott 30 years ago and has had increasing responsibilities within Environment, Health and Safety and Product Stewardship.

Background and General Information: Nancy is a Certified Industrial Hygienist, Board Certified Safety Professional and is certified as a Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence by the American Society of Quality. Nancy is a founding board member for the Product Stewardship Society and past President of the Chicago Section of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. She currently serves on the Network for Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) board of directors.






Additional Speakers and Moderators

Beth Hamil

During Beth Hamil's 31-year tenure at DEL Industries (DBA DEL OZONE, a full-scale ozone system manufacturer) her responsibilities included corporate operations, regulatory compliance, design, development and utilization of ozone sanitation systems for multiple applications. This required Beth to be a student, teacher, researcher, collaborator, designer and published author of ozone technology and its associated microbial efficacy and human/environmental safety, (including regulatory compliance and sustainable practices), in all aspects of successful ozone integration. She is uniquely qualified to offer this extensive knowledge to those who are seeking a better understanding of ozone sanitation practices and sustainable sanitation solutions.

Beth Hamil's full bio (PDF)


John Edel

John Edel is both an eco and social entrepreneur. His most recent endeavor, The Plant, is a project combining adaptive industrial reuse and aquaponics to create the nation's first vertical farm and food-business incubator. Located in a former meatpacking facility in Chicago’s historic Stockyards, The Plant will be powered entirely by the waste of neighboring businesses.

John also is the owner and developer of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As General Contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100% occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading edge technology to make the building exceptionally energy efficient and pleasantly non-toxic. The renovation was assisted by a core group of volunteers and by bartering with suppliers, tenants and scrappers. The building's green roof is a photo of Edel's daughter Zoe rendered in 9,600 sedum plants, each of which is a pixel in her image.

In previous careers, Edel taught computer graphics, designed sets for broadcast television, art directed video games and worked as a chef on private railroad cars. He has a lifelong dream of combining industrial preservation, agriculture and food production in a sustainable fashion.