On Wednesday, May 9, the Erb Institute hosted the Sustainable Brands Networking Reception at the Waterview Loft in Detroit. This gathering of the sustainability community in Detroit and greater Michigan served as an opportunity to create connections between businesses, government and brands in anticipation of Sustainable Brands’ return to Detroit in 2019. Our panel provided updates from the business and government perspectives on the role brands can and should play in the future of sustainability in Detroit. Our panelists were:

  • John Erb – President, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
  • Dr. Neil Hawkins – Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate Vice President for EHS & Sustainability, The Dow Chemical Company
  • Kimberly Hill Knott – President/CEO, Future Insight Consulting, LLC
  • Joel Howrani – Director of Sustainability, City of Detroit
  • Terry Nelidov – Managing Director, Erb Institute
  • Greg Pflum – Vice President and General Manager, BASF Corporation
  • John Viera – Global Director, Sustainability & Vehicle Environmental Matters, Ford Motor Company
  • KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz – Founder & CEO, Sustainable Brands

Erb Managing Director, Terry Nelidov explained the how and why of the Erb Institute’s partnership with Sustainable Brands. A conversation was sparked back in 2015 as SB considered moving its flagship conference to a location which could contribute to the conversation on delivering on the Good Life and the role of sustainability in making this a reality. Erb joined forces with many other partners to make the case for hosting SB 2017 in Detroit, becoming SB’s academic partner in the process.

Detroit is a place that is undergoing tremendous growth and has the opportunity to do so in a way that supports a new conception of the Good Life.  The competition to bring SB to a major city was stiff with many attractive offers. However, in the end, SB 2017 Detroit became a reality and a huge success – with the highest attendance of any SB conference to date. This Networking Reception last week was an opportunity to continue the conversation from 2017 and start preparing for SB 2019 in Detroit next year.

Erb Institute Managing Director, Terry Nelidov kicked off the evening, sharing his excitement for Sustainable Brands’ return to Detroit!

Terry Nelidov, Managing Director, Erb Institute

“SB 2017 was all about “Redefining the Good Life”. The rubber meets the road—so to speak!—back in Detroit next year, when the discussion will turn to “Delivering the Good Life” and the unique role of brands in doing that together with community, academia and government. We at the Erb Institute are delighted to be the local conference partner for what will be an amazing SB 2019 in Detroit!”



John Viera, Global Director, Sustainability & Vehicle Environmental Matters, Ford Motor Company

“Ford has been part of the fabric of Detroit since our founding, clearly from an employment standpoint. However an equally important part of that fabric is to have an impact at the community level. While we can have a sizeable impact on Detroit communities given the resources available from our large company, our most significant impact in this community is when we combine our efforts with other organizations, both large and small, to truly magnify that impact. What is especially exciting about SB coming back to Detroit in 2019, is that SB can serve as outstanding platform for a variety of different entities to get together and deliver real impact on the communities in this city. So exciting!”

Neil C. Hawkins, Corporate Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Dow Chemical Company

“Detroit 2019 is a huge opportunity for both the city and for broader community of Sustainable Brands.  Redefining, Redesigning, and ultimately Delivering the “Good Life” is a truly humbling and powerful platform for the power of business to transform and transcend. Detroit 2019 will be amazing!”



Kimberly Hill Knott, President & CEO, Future Insight Consulting, LLC

“There is no reason one community should be disproportionately diagnosed with asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Detroit has two of the state’s most polluted zip codes. In order to reduce pollution and create sustainable communities for ALL Detroiters, businesses must work closely with city and state government, residents, the academic community, non-profit organizations and other key stakeholders to fully embrace and implement the Detroit Climate Action Plan and other sustainability efforts.


Lastly, I challenge Sustainable Brands and the conference attendees to participate in an Environmental justice tour while in the city, to see and hear about the impact of pollution on low-income and communities of color.”

Joel Howrani Heeres, Director, Office of Sustainability, Office of Mayor Mike Duggan, City of Detroit

“A sustainable city is one that not only ensures Detroit’s financial recovery is sustained and that services are delivered to meet the needs of all Detroiters right now, but provides a roadmap so that this is accomplished in a way that is for all Detroiters, continuously improved, and is sustained for future generations.”

Catch up on Sustainable Brands Vancouver: Redefining the Good Life here!