WI School of Business staff portraits

Tom has been at the forefront of business and sustainability for the last twenty years, both teaching classes in sustainability at the University of Wisconsin, and founding and serving as the Executive Director of the WI Sustainable Business Council. Tom taught the first classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sustainability and later was a co-developer of the graduate certificate in Business, Environment and Social Responsibility (BESR) at the WI School of Business. His classes (for which he’s won several teaching awards) cross traditional boundaries and attract students from business, environmental studies, engineering, design and other programs on campus. He has written and spoken extensively on the changing role of business in society, corporate social responsibility, socially responsible investing, climate change, and on how the private sector can lead in responding to a resource constrained world.

In addition to his responsibilities with the University, Tom founded and leads the WI Sustainable Business Council. The Council developed and implements the Green Masters Program, a sustainability recognition and benchmarking program for WI businesses, and coordinates the annual WI Sustainable Business Council Conference, now in its 9th year, and the Sustainable Business Awards, now in their fourth year.

Growing out of his interest in sustainability, Tom developed the non-profit “Wisconsin Microfinance” and serves as the President of the Board. The money raised by Wisconsin Microfinance is split between a development organization in Haiti and a cooperative in the Philippines. Both organizations ensure that loans are made to worthy recipients in small villages hit particularly hard by recent natural disasters.

Tom originally returned to Wisconsin for a job at the WI Department of Natural Resources, where he continues to work part time. He serves as the sector specialist for the Manufacturing Sector, supporting new (and expanding) businesses seeking to improve their environmental performance. He also has been involved with the state’s environmental leadership program (Green Tier) since its inception in 2004.

Tom has a Law Degree from George Washington University in Washington D.C., a Masters in Public Administration from the LaFollette Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Problems and Policies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to returning to Wisconsin (where he grew up) in 1991, he served as a Special Assistant Attorney General in Montana, and, before that, as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines.

We hope to see you in December!

Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference: A solution for everyone.






Welcome to the 9th Annual WI Sustainability Business Conference blog,

Be sure to check out our site leading up to the conference for more details about speakers and overall event logistics.

This year the conference will be held December 8th at Empire Screen Printing in Onalaska:

About Empire Screen Printing

Empire is a leader in screen printing, flexography, digital printing, and doming creating a 3-D look to printing. What started out as a one-man operation in 1960 has grown into a large family-owned business.

Empire was the first screen printer in the world to use inks curable with UV-LED screen lights. This reduces the emissions of volatile organic compounds, and dramatically reduces energy use. Empire has won numerous accolades including the WI Family Business of the Year, and the WI Sustainable Business Council’s Earth Day Award. They continue to serve as one of the leaders of the sustainability conversation in Wisconsin.

Empire will be offering tours of the facility on the day of the conference. Click here to learn about Empire.

Come meet the team!

Four University of Wisconsin-Madison students have planning the day, coordinating breakout sessions, promoting the conference, and providing transportation and overnight accommodations for conference attendees. We have also been involved in marketing reaching out to radio stations, volunteers, and creating posters and brochures for the 2016 Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference.

The Team Behind the Conference


Alex Derr is a 5th year senior at the UW-Madison from Beaver Dam, WI, double majoring in political science & environmental studies. His interest in sustainability is rooted in his time spent hiking, camping and canoeing the Wisconsin Northwoods while growing up as a Boy Scout. He hopes to continue his education following graduation this fall, attending the La Follette Institute to get an MPA in Environmental and Energy Policy.





Brandon Kim is from Hartland, about 30 minutes west of Milwaukee. He is an evolutionary biology major with a certificate in entrepreneurship, and is currently in his last semester before graduation, woohoo! He is in the process of applying to medical school, and hopefully will start his physician journey next fall.

He was introduced to sustainability through his scientific studies. But as he delved deeper in his studies of entrepreneurship, he discovered how perfectly sustainability fits with business. At its essence, the concept of sustainability focuses on how we can do more with less; produce less waste, use less energy, and limit pollutants. If you’re reading this, you understand the incredible benefits and importance of sustainability as an integral part of your business. But how do we instill these values into the society as a whole? Brandon and the rest of the conference planning team are ready to tackle this question!




Hope Rohrbach is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in environmental studies and sociology. She grew up in San Francisco, and went to high school in Massachusetts. She plans to graduate in May 2017, and hopes to move to New York City to work at a food company dedicated to issues of environmental and social justice. She has always been an avid eater, which is why sustainability is important to her. Food is something that we all love, and by preserving our food systems, we can work toward more equitable food production that allows laborers, eaters, and producers alike to unite together to share and enjoy food that makes consumption possible for future generations.




Jessica Hamilton is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication pursuing a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. She is also working towards a certificate in Environmental Studies. When she’s not at school, Jessica resides in a suburb of Milwaukee, but also spent time living in California. She wants to work in public relations after college, and hopes to pair her communication skills with her passion for the environment. Sustainability is important to her because it means bettering the earth, and the goal brings together a variety of disciplines in an effort to create innovative change.

We hope to see you in December!

Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference: A solution for everyone.