Keynote Speakers


Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible. His background includes a degree in mathematics and philosophy from Yale, a decade in Taiwan as a translator, and stints as a college instructor, a yoga teacher, and a construction worker. He currently writes and speaks full-time. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and four children. 

To read a recent blog post by Charles click here


Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena Norberg-Hodge is founder and director of Local Futures, previously known as the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC). Local Futures is a non-profit organization "dedicated to the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide."

Norberg-Hodge is the author of Ancient Futures (1991), a book about tradition and change in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. An outspoken critic of economic globalization, she co-founded – along with Jerry Mander, Doug Tompkins, Vandana Shiva, Martin Khor and others – the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) in 1994. She is a leading proponent of localization as an antidote to the problems arising from globalization, and founded the International Alliance for Localization (IAL) in 2014.

Norberg-Hodge produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary film The Economics of Happiness (2011), which lays out her arguments against economic globalization and for localization.

To read a recent blog post by Helena click here


Michael Shuman

Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a globally recognized expert on community economics. He is one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the “JOBS Act,” signed into law by President Obama in April 2012.  Shuman is currently Director of Community Portals for Mission Markets and a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital.  He’s also a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and an adjunct instructor in community economic development for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Michael has authored or coauthored eight books.  His most recent book, published by Post Carbon Institute with Chelsea Green, is Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Move Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity. His previous book, The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (Berrett-Koehler, 2006), received as bronze prize from the Independent Publishers Association for best business book of 2006.



Anthony Flaccavento

Anthony is an organic farmer near Abingdon, Virginia, in the heart of Central Appalachia. He has been working on community environmental and economic development in the region for the past 27 years. In 1995, he founded Appalachian Sustainable Development, which became a regional and national leader in sustainable economic development. Anthony left ASD in December, 2009 to found SCALE, Inc, a private consulting business dedicated to catalyzing and supporting ecologically healthy regional economies and food systems. SCALE works with community leaders, farmers, foundations, economic development agencies and others in Appalachia, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico the Arkansas Delta and other communities. Anthony speaks and writes about sustainable development, economics, food systems and rural development issues extensively, with some of his pieces appearing in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Solutions Journal and elsewhere.

Anthony is the author of Healthy Food Systems: A Toolkit for Building Value Chains, and has also authored chapters in books on rural development and ecological literacy. Most recently SCALE Inc produced Is Local Food Affordable for Ordinary Folks?, a study of farmers market affordability in six states in Appalachia and the Southeast.

In 2012, Anthony ran for the United States House of Representatives in Virginia's 9th district, winning the Democratic nomination. Although unsuccessful in the general election, the campaign enabled him to meet and talk with thousands of farmers, loggers, miners, small business owners and others, whom he found to be very excited about the ideas of sustainable development and a "bottom up" economy. 

Anthony has received a number of awards and honors for his work in recent years, including the Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award, and selection by Blue Ridge magazine in 2009 as one of Central Appalachia's most important agents for positive change. He was a Kellogg National Food and Society Policy Fellow during 2007 and 2008, and a Fellow with the Business Alliance for Local, Living Economies (BALLE) in 2010/2011. Anthony has a BS degree in Agriculture and Environmental Science from the University of Kentucky and a Masters degree in Economic and Social Development from the University of Pittsburgh. He is married with three grown - and terrific - children.


Jim Merkel

Jim Merkel is the author of Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Jim founded the Alternative Transportation Task Force in San Luis Obispo, California, and held an elected Sierra Club position while honing urban simple living skills. He lobbied in Washington for wilderness, peace, and Native American rights. In 1994 he received a fellowship to research sustainability in Kerala, India, and walked in the Himalayas. The following year he founded the Global Living Project (GLP) and initiated the GLP Summer Institute where teams of researchers attempted to live on an equitable portion of the biosphere.

Community Solutions is partnering with Jim Merkel on his new film, Saving Walden's World. The film will gingerly explore two of humanities sacred cows “be fruitful and multiply” and “he or she who dies with the most toys wins.” Together they lead the stampede to wreck the planet and underlie most environmental and social woes.  The viewers will be treated to an insider’s glimpse of societies that exhibit sustainable practices, that is, have small families, small ecological footprints and healthy, educated people.

Patrick Westerlund - Headshot.jpg

Patrick Westerlund

Patrick Westerlund leads the foundation's Social Impact Investing executive education program for nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs, which launched in December 2013. Patrick also works on the investment team, providing advisory services related to social enterprise development and conducting due diligence on impact investment opportunities. Additionally, Patrick collaborates with other foundation staff members on the development of new social ventures within the portfolio of the Wells Foundation including ds-connex and Citra.

Patrick is currently serving on the board of GroundWork group, nonprofit social enterprise that provides affordable IT services to over 200 nonprofits and helped them raise over $45 million in 2016. Patrick also serves at the United Way of Central Ohio on the Planning & Investments Committee, and co-founded the Festival for Good, an annual event that showcases nearly 50 social enterprises and introduces them to thousands of socially conscious consumers.

Prior to working for the foundation, Patrick worked at Desco Capital, a $500 million Columbus-based private equity firm, started his own branch of a painting company, and worked in his family’s restaurant business. Patrick is a graduate of The Ohio State University where he specialized in Finance, actively consulted for Columbus nonprofit organizations, planned the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit, and was involved in various other university programs and student organizations. 

WellsT Head Shot.jpg

Tony Wells

Tony Wells is a business veteran recognized as a successful business entrepreneur, community philanthropist, family foundation, and board director.

The Wells Foundation was created in 2001 by Tony and Dana Wells to provide technology and social entrepreneurship grants to nonprofit organizations. Their mission statement is “Create value for the community by developing stronger nonprofit leaders and investing in the next generation of social innovations”. In 2007, the foundation expanded its programs to Leadership Development including developing the first national executive education program for social impact investing. The foundation offered its first impact investment in 2005 and is recognize as one of the largest funders of Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Investing in the Central Ohio area.

Wells has an International MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. Wells is also an alumnus of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Wells is a lecturer at The Ohio State University on the subjects of social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and social impact investing. Wells was awarded an Honorary Doctoral degree in Public Service by Otterbein University in 2015. He and his wife, Dana, and their two children reside in Lewis Center, Ohio.



The World House Choir


The Rev. Derrick Weston and Dr. Catherine Roma met in the summer of 2012. They were encouraged to meet one another because people felt they had the same focus about creating a peace and justice choir. Rev. Weston was Director of the Coretta Scott King Center and minister of the Presbyterian church in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In September 2012,  they worked together to form an embryonic choir that sang for world peace day celebration at the Presbyterian Church.

After that successful effort, a mission statement was created: “To perform music that motivates and inspires our communities toward justice, diversity and equality as we strive for peace and to create our web of mutuality.” Rev. Weston and Dr. Roma wanted the choir to be associated with the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College and embarked on a collaboration.

The choir grew throughout 2013. The first major collaboration was for the CSK birthday celebration at the CSK Center at Antioch College in April 2013. This was considered  the “official” launch of the choir and the beginning of the public phase of our collaboration. Prior to the WHC’s creation there were occasional celebrations of Ms. King’s life at the CSK center.

From the beginning, Antioch College has graciously provided practice space in the CSK Center or elsewhere on campus and child care has been provided by Antioch College students. Louise Smith (Dean of Community Life) and Jennifer Berman (Community Life Liason) have been very supportive and have helped the collaboration to grow.

In 2013, Rev. Weston announced that he was leaving the CSK Center and Myla Cooper was hired as the new director.  We collaborate with her on the annual Coretta Scott King Birthday celebrations at Antioch College and we are also honored to perform at the Antioch College graduation ceremony each June.

The Choir is associated with “Arts for Peace and Justice,” a non-profit association in Yellow Springs, Ohio created to promote and unite progressive arts movements for peace justice and social change with an emphasis on the choral arts and people’s music.

The name “World House Choir” is rooted in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s metaphor that we must create a “world house” in which we all live together in peace and justice. The name refers to the choice each person must make – to live in community or chaos, particularly in a nation where racial stereotypes remain strong and multiculturalism a work-in-progress.