Sustain Dane Summit: Weaving Stories for Change

The Sustain Dane Summit is an interactive program and unparalleled forum for you to learn, connect, share ideas, reflect, and gain new skills to lead and inspire change.

2021 Program Overview

The Sustain Dane Summit is a day filled with education, inspiration, reflection, and connection! This year our theme is Weaving Stories of Change. We’ll hear from keynote speaker Kimberly Nicholas, sustainability scientist and author of UNDER THE SKY WE MAKE: How to be Human in a Warming World. Every registration has the opportunity to receive a copy of Under the Sky we Make.

The Summit will also feature a panel of local leaders sharing their work towards a sustainable community, networking and conversation among attendees, and a Live Forward Award celebration. We will recognize the projects completed by businesses, organizations, and individuals from our 2021 Accelerate Sustainability Workshop and Master Recycler program. We can all play a powerful role in creating systems that focus on holistic sustainability: a healthy environment, a just economy, and equity and social wellbeing for all. Change happens when inspired people take action.

We invite you to use the evidence-based Cool Climate tool to calculate your carbon footprint ahead of the Summit to deepen your engagement with the day. Read more below.

This year the Summit will be a hybrid program, held both online and in person at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. See below for our COVID-19 Safety Requirement.

Networking & Breakfast

7:45AM – 8:30AM

Under the Sky We Make Keynote


Prof. Kimberly Nicholas, PhD | Sustainability scientist, writer, speaker

Kimberly is a sustainability scientist at Lund University. She is the author of UNDER THE SKY WE MAKE: How to be Human in a Warming World, and the monthly climate newsletter We Can Fix It. She has published over 50 articles on climate and sustainability in leading peer-reviewed journals, and her research has been featured in outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, USA Today, Buzzfeed and more. Read Kimberly’s full bio.

Raj Shukla, The Nature Conservancy’s Midwest Director of Freshwater Policy, will be interviewing Kimberly about her new book. Read Raj’s full bio.

Kimberly and Raj’s conversation will cover:

    • How we can harness facts, feelings, and action to face climate change.
    • Principles of respect and care for people and nature, reducing harm at its source; and building resilience, the ability to recover from setbacks 
    • Climate pollution is distributed extremely unfairly 
    • Maximize meaning and minimize carbon – stories of meaningful achievements and cultivating community that are created from actions and relationships that align with our core values 
    • Find bright spots where climate action is working and spread them

We will also take some questions from the audience and have the chance for conversation among attendees about our roles in climate action in post-keynote networking.

Local Leaders Panel

10:00 AM—11:15 AM

This year, our local leaders panel will feature Angela Russell as moderator. Angela is the Chief Diversity Officer and is the Vice President of the CUNA Mutual Foundation at CUNA Mutual Group. Read Angela’s full bio.

Panelists include:

Networking and Lunch


In person registrations will join us for a delicious Vegetable Strudel lunch. Virtual attendees can join us for online networking from 11:30AM—12:30PM.


Accelerate Sustainability Workshop, LAWD’s Bilingual Leadership Academy, and Master Recycler program recognition

With a guest presentation from Plastic Free MKE


Throughout 2021 our education programs have inspired a ripple effect of action across the community. Join us to celebrate the impact of the Accelerate Sustainability Workshop, the Latino Academy of Workforce Development’s Bilingual Leadership Academy, and our new Master Recycler course. Learn about the program impact, hear stories from participants, and help us recognize their successful projects. Congratulations to the over 550 participants in these programs and the ripple effect of their work educating over 44,500 people in our community.

To inspire your own sustainability projects, we’ll be joined by Leah Holloway from Plastic Free MKE for a presentation including regional plastic information, and actions people can take to curb plastic use.  Read Leah’s full bio.

Live Forward Awards


The Live Forward Awards celebrate changemakers and inclusive leaders who are promoting local sustainability and community well-being. Join us for a panel of the four Live Forward Awardees and celebrate their amazing work in our community.

  • Elena Terry, Founder/Executive Chef of Wild Bearies Catering
  • Tara Wilhelmi, Founder and Lead Peer Specialist Each One Teach One (EOTO)
  • Oscar Mireles, Director of Omega School
  • Kristie Goforth, Executive Director of Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison

Congratulations to the 2021 Live Forward Award Nominees!

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

Ahead of the Summit, we invite you to use the evidence-based Cool Climate tool to calculate your carbon footprint. Learning about your impact will enrich the meaning of the keynote presentation and deepen your engagement throughout the day. We encourage you to think beyond just your households total carbon emissions – consider the categories used in the calculator and how they touch your life, intersect with what brings you joy, and what you feel inspired to do with the information. Reflect on this information before the Summit and think about the actions you might be able to take to impact your footprint. For tips on how to easily complete your calculation read more here.


Post-event recordings will be provided to registrants. Re-watch your favorite sessions and share with your professional and personal networks to spread impact.


Scholarships are available—email for info.

Hybrid Program

Participants will have the option to join us online or in person at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.

Registration Deadlines

Monday, November 1 is the deadline for in person registration. Online registration ends on the day of the program. Discounted Early Bird registration ends Monday, October 18.

COVID-19 Safety Requirement

The Sustain Dane Summit will include an in person option at the Monona Terrace in the Grand Terrace and Hall of Ideas areas. The Summit will follow and enforce all Public Health Dane County & Madison orders, including masks and face coverings. In addition, masks or face covering must be worn at all times in the Hall of Ideas, which is where program presentations will occur (no eating/drinking occurring in the Hall of Ideas). Optional breakfast & lunch will be served in the Grand Terrace – we ask that masks remain on whenever people are not eating/drinking in the Grand Terrace.

For in person attendees, Sustain Dane is requiring full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before attending the Summit. Sustain Dane will have a limited number of COVID-19 tests available on-site. Attendees should bring proof of vaccination or negative test (a photo is sufficient). Anyone with symptoms of illness and/or COVID-19 are asked to please not attend in-person and join us for the virtual option instead.

Thank you to our sponsoring partners and supporting members

Thank you to sponsors! We’re still open to additional sponsorship requests, so if you’re interested in supporting the Summit contact Lucia

Why Sponsor

  • Elevate your organization’s commitment to sustainability in Dane County
  • Participate in meaningful learning, networking, and professional development
  • Gain business development as a leader in corporate social responsibility
  • Be visible through extensive marketing, press releases, and online promotions

Next Steps for Sponsorship

Email Lucia Hunt at to discuss your desired sponsorship level and/or create a personalized sponsorship for your organization. For maximum recognition, secure sponsorship by September 10, 2021, and for recognition in the program, secure sponsorship by October 15, 2021.

Reynolds Transfer & Storage, Inc.

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