Breakthrough Alliance Discussion on Driving Sustainable Futures

12:00 - 13:30 EST
09:00 - 10:30 am PST


The United Nations Joint SDG Fund, Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs, Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs of Southern California and Stanford Alumni for Sustainability invite you to the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly side event hosted by the Breakthrough Alliance. The Virtual Discussion will take place under the theme: ‘Driving Sustainable Futures: Exploring the Synergies of Digital Transformation and Decarbonization’ on 22 September 2023 from 9 am – 10:30 am PST / 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EST.

Heads of State and their delegations, Heads of UN organizations, industry executives, the finance community and civil society representatives will meet for high-level dialogues, including discussions about the progress of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all world leaders as essential facets of the sustainable future we want; of a world transformed for the benefit of all humanity. Dynamic, sustainable, and transnational global awareness of the SDGs and innovative financing mechanisms are at the core of the Joint SDG Fund's Breakthrough Alliance mission.

This event will showcase discussions on two important transitions for systemic impact: energy access and transition and the need for digital connectivity, representing catalytic and multiplier effects across all the SDGs. Through this interactive dialogue, the Breakthrough Alliance hopes to catalyze partnerships, innovations and financing for the development system.



Ms. Radhika Shah

Co-President Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs

Radhika is an angel/impact tech investor, passionate about civic engagement, community building & transformative social change. She is Co-President of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs (a Community of 2000 Stanford alumni, students & faculty come together to advance Tech Innovation & Entrepreneurship), a Fellow and Founding Chair of the Tech Advisory Group at The Stanford Center for Human Rights & International Justice and a Sr. Advisor to The Global Center for Gender Equality at Stanford University.

She is an advisor to the global Sustainable Development Goals Philanthropy Platform (a UNDP / WINGS Collaboration), Board Member at Center for Effective Global Action, U.C. Berkeley (bringing together mission driven academics across US west Coast Universities to work with Governments, NGOs around world for evidence-based research/action to reduce poverty), Advisor to Impact Experience,  Illumen Capital a Fund-of-Impact-Funds reducing Implicit Biases, to Benetech (Empowering Communities with Software-for-Social-Good), and TechAdvisor to The Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC). Radhika holds a MSCS from Stanford and a U.C. Berkeley MBA.

Keith Coleman

Mr. Keith Coleman

Distinguished Visiting Scholar Emeritus mediaX at Stanford University and Co-Founder of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs Southern California

Keith is a researcher, investor, and startup adviser, focused on social impact and collective well-being. A Distinguished Visiting Scholar Emeritus with mediaX at Stanford University, an interdisciplinary thought leadership and industry affiliate program. Keith is member of Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs and also Co-founder of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs of Southern California, mentor/coach for entrepreneurs via Stanford Venture Studio.

His service focuses on intercultural equity and excellence in climate action, education reform, public health innovation, and social finance. Keith is a board member of Climate Action Pathways for Schools (providing inspiring climate STEM-based education programs and actionable projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving money for school districts). Keith assists Rutgers Law School / Center on Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity (CLiME) in its public health innovation initiative: “Colored by Covid” (supporting public health innovation to mitigate disparities in care for underrepresented patients through funding research and healthcare startups). A Limited Partner in JumpstartNova, (elements of Keith’s social finance work examine equity and social impact issues of investment management and health, centering the context and knowledge of people of color). Keith serves on the Executive Council of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership of Southern California (providing aerospace manufacturers and their supply chain with tools, talent, and capacity to master the future while supporting ESG & SDG values). He is a signatory to the Racial Justice Investing coalition (building equitable institutions with socially principled investors, evaluating the role of wealth and capital in persisting injustice through an SDG lens). Keith has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, Stanford-in-Oxford/Magdalen College, his master’s from the University of Pennsylvania, and is an Associate Member of the Meharry National Alumni Association.

Lisa Kurbiel

Lisa Kurbiel

Head of the UN Joint SDG Fund Secretariat

Since joining the Fund in 2019, Ms. Lisa Kurbiel is responsible for leading this flagship development fund at the UN, currently capitalized to US$ 275 million, to accelerate SDGs achievement in the global south.  She leads the Fund’s inter-agency engagement across multilateral and international organizations, whilst developing new, innovative partnerships with the private sector, from global asset managers and financial institutions to foundations and family offices. A passionate human rights advocate, she has cultivated and managed partnerships with key business entities, civil society organizations and philanthropies, always focused on the most vulnerable. Ms. Kurbiel brings over 22 years of experience, having served across the UN system, including in Somalia, South Sudan, Mozambique and Kenya. Her skills include public policy and legislative reform, strategic communications and advocacy and innovative financing solutions. Lisa received her Juris Doctor from Saint John’s University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts from Niagara University.  She and her husband reside in NYC and are the proud parents of their two amazing teenagers.

Claudia Thieme

Claudia Thieme Cogut

Co-founder Stanford Alumni in Sustainability  

Growing up in a bicultural half-American, half-Japanese household in Singapore, Claudia has always embraced a global perspective. At a young age, she became interested in conservation (especially wildlife/ocean conservation) and sustainable development, inspired by her father's work in clean energy at the Asian Development Bank. At Stanford she studied International Relations (BA with Honors, 2014) and Psychology (MA, 2015). Upon graduation, she moved to New York to pursue a career in the retail industry, starting at Tiffany & Co. in Brand Management and Product Marketing roles. She was able to blend her passion for conservation and retail when she managed the launch of Tiffany's first philanthropic collection: Save the Wild. 100% of profits were donated to the Elephant Crisis Fund and the collection exceeded all performance expectations - reaching over $2M in donations that year and $10M since then.  

Claudia works at an eco-fashion start-up and co-founded Stanford Alumni in Sustainability, a cross-cutting, intergenerational alumni organization bringing together Stanford graduates working in fields related to sustainability. Claudia continues to be passionate about wildlife and ocean conservation and is thrilled that her husband David Cogut is devoted to these causes as well. His firm Pegasus Capital is launching two funds, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs and the Subnational Climate Fund with the UN's Green Climate Fund. The goal is to catalyze climate mitigation and adaptation solutions through a transformative finance model investing in climate-smart infrastructure and nature-based solutions in developing countries. Together, we look forward to many more decades of work in sustainability and conservation. 



Deepali Khanna

Deepali Khanna

Vice President, Asia Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation  

As The Rockefeller Foundation’s chief representative in Asia, Deepali Khanna oversees efforts to amplify the Foundation’s impact and initiatives to make opportunities universal and sustainable. She leads the efforts of the Asia Regional Office team to build and sustain networks with different institutions, leverage financing and collaborations, innovative grants, thought leadership and information on trends driving the Asian continent’s development. 

In her role, Deepali is leading engagement with India’s G20 presidency to advance global economic equity, public health, clean energy, and sustainable food systems. Deepali currently serves as co-Chair of G20 India’s Business20 task force on Financing For Global Economic Recovery and as co-chair of G7 Japan’s Think7 task force on Development and Economic Prosperity. Deepali is also on the Digital Green Foundation Board and the International Jury of The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure Fellowship Programme. 

Deepali joined the Foundation in 2015, serving as Director of the Foundation’s $75 million where she led Smart Power for Rural Development – later Smart Power India –to provide affordable and clean energy access to over a million people in India. She regularly writes on issues relevant to the sustainable development goals and the importance of south-south cooperation in regional and national publications across Asia, including Forbes Asia, The Straits Times, and The Bangkok Post. She is a regular speaker at regional platforms such as the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network, Philanthropy Asia Summit, and World Sustainable Development Summit among others. 

Prior to joining The Rockefeller Foundation, Deepali has held multiple leadership positions at The MasterCard Foundation, Plan International managing operations across several continents. 

Naila Farouky

Naila Farouky

CEO for the Arab Foundations Forum

With over 20 years of experience in project management, media production, and strategic communication, Naila Farouky is a Peabody Award-winning executive who has built a career across several continents.

In 2014, Naila assumed the role of CEO for the Arab Foundations Forum (AFF) – a regional, membership-based association of foundations and other philanthropy actors working across the Arab Region.

Prior to her role at AFF, Naila served 13 years at the iconic Sesame Workshop in New York, where she was responsible for managing the project, content production, and creative aspects of Sesame Workshop’s multi-media co-productions of Sesame Street in 17 countries over the course of her career.

Naila grew up mostly in Cairo, Egypt, and has lived in Kenya, New York, Washington DC, Jordan, Switzerland and South Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the American University in Cairo.


Costa Samaras

Chief Advisor for the Clean Energy Transition, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

Dr. Costa Samaras serves in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as Principal Assistant Director for Energy and Chief of the Clean Energy Transition. He works with the OSTP Director, the Deputy Director for Industrial Innovation, and Senior Leaders throughout the government in coordinating Federal activities and direction on U.S. energy technology policy to meet President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy no later than 2050. Dr. Samaras leads an effort on innovation in energy systems assessment to support a clean, rapid, and equitable energy transition. He has more than two decades of experience working on climate and clean energy, and was previously a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Founding Director of the Power Sector Carbon Index and the Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation at Carnegie Mellon University. He was also previously a Senior Engineer at the RAND Corporation working on energy and climate security, as well as worked as an infrastructure megaprojects engineer in New York City. He holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon, and a Master’s of Public Policy from New York University.


Riitta Katila

W.M. Keck Professor and Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University

Riitta Katila is the W. M. Keck Sr. Professor of Management Science, and Research Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University. Her research is in the intersection of technology strategy and organizational learning, using machine learning, statistical analysis and mixed methods. She is an expert on innovation, competition, and entrepreneurship in large firms, and her current research centers on digital platforms, regulation of technology ecosystems, decentralization of decision-making, and responsible and inclusive innovation. Katila's research pushes the theoretical boundaries of institutional logics, resource dependence and evolutionary search theories to understand how organizations innovate and change.

Prof. Katila's research has received several international honors. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Industry Studies Fellow and winner of the Schendel Prize by the Strategic Management Society. She was also recognized as the Top Emerging Strategy Scholar by the Strategic Management Society (SMS), an award that recognizes "exemplary scholarship that promises to have an impact on future strategic management practice...and will make fundamental contributions to the way we think about knowledge essential to achieving durable organizational success." Katila is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Management and Fellow of the Strategic Management Society.

Katila received Academy of Management's Stephan M. Schrader Award for Outstanding Research in Technology and Innovation Management, the Thought Leader Award in Entrepreneurship, and the Best Symposium Award by the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management. Her dissertation on industrial robotics firms and their innovation strategies using patents and new products received several recognitions, including the Best Dissertation Award from The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, and was also recognized for its excellence by the Business Policy and Strategy (now STR) Division of the Academy.

Prof. Katila is Associate Editor of the Academy of Management Annals and of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal and has served on the editorial review boards of Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Strategic Organization, and the Strategic Management Journal. She is currently on Strategic Management Society's Board of Directors, and is past-President of the Technology and Innovation Management Division of the Academy of Management.

Katila studied engineering economics and information systems as an undergraduate, earned a Ph.D. in technology strategy at UT Austin on a Fulbright Scholarship, and received a Doctorate in Engineering from Helsinki University of Technology in Finland. In between, she worked at a management consultancy and in telecommunications. Trained as an industrial engineer, she is known as a trailblazer for women engineers and scientists. Katila is the recipient of the Eugene L. Grant Faculty Teaching Award at Stanford, an alumni impact award from Aalto University's School of Science (former Helsinki University of Technology) and was selected to Tau Beta Pi Teaching Honor Roll at Stanford.


Michael Lepech

Stanford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering & Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment

Professor Lepech’s research develops fundamental engineering design concepts, models, and tools that are tightly integrated with quantitative sustainability assessment and service life modeling across length scales, from material scales to system scales, and throughout the early design, project engineering, construction, and operation life cycle phases of constructed facilities. His research developed the Sustainable Integrated Materials, Structures, Systems (SIMSS) engineering framework, a tool to guide the multi-scale design of sustainable built environments, including multi-physics modeling informed by infrastructure sensing data and computational learning and feedback algorithms to support advanced digital-twinning of engineered systems. His work applies SIMMS through two complementary research thrusts; (1) developing high-fidelity quantitative sustainability assessment methods that enable civil engineers to quickly and probabilistically measure sustainability indicators, and (2) creating multi-scale, fundamental engineering tools that integrate with sustainability assessment and facilitate setting and meeting sustainability targets throughout the life cycle of constructed facilities.


His research forms the foundation of a number of Stanford centers and initiatives including ongoing work at the Stanford Center for Sustainable Development and Global Competitiveness (focusing on the intersection of new computational algorithms and global sustainable development), the Stanford Center at the Incheon Global Campus (SCIGC) in South Korea (examining the potential for smart city technologies to enhance the sustainability of urban areas), the Stanford Center for Innovation in Design Research (studying the application of human-centered design to address sustainability challenges), the Stanford Research Initiative on Long Term Investing (considering the role of large institutional investors in driving sustainability-focused change), and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (developing new tools to support sustainability-focused entrepreneurship and innovation).


With an engineering background in civil and environmental engineering and material science (BSE, MSE, PhD), and business training in strategy and finance (MBA), Professor Lepech continues to explore the intersection of entrepreneurship education, innovation capital training, and the potential of startups to more rapidly transfer and scale technologies to solve some of the world's most challenging problems.


Jonathon Schulhof

CEO, Managing Partner, Co-Founder, FootPrint Coalition

Jon Schulhof is co-founder and CEO of FootPrint Coalition Ventures, an environmentally sustainable technology VC he started in partnership with Robert Downey Jr. and Steve Levin. He was a founder and lead investor in Motivate, which owned and operated Citibike and other leading North American bike-sharing systems. He also started Loom Media to finance the rollout of public electric vehicle charging systems, and other smart city amenities sponsored by corporate media. Earlier in his career, Jon created ColdWatt, a high efficiency power electronics company; and Glori Energy, a microbially enhanced oil recovery business. Schulhof also serves as founder and non-executive chairman of GTI Capital Group, a permanent capital investor in India; Urban Resiliency Board member for the New York City Partnership; and a proud mentor at iMentor. Schulhof holds a law degree from Stanford and attended Dartmouth College.



Sundaa Bridgett-Jones

Vice President for the Americas and Chief Partnerships Officer, The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet

Sundaa Bridgett-Jones is Vice President for the Americas and Chief Partnerships Officer at The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet.  She drives an innovative partnership construct for the alliance and has leveraged global stakeholders in support of a just and clean energy transition in developing and emerging economies.

Most recently, Ms. Bridgett-Jones served as Managing Director for Policy & Coalitions at The Rockefeller Foundation.  Across her portfolio priorities, she has executed strategies to grow coalitions for pressing global issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, equity and economic opportunity, financing development, and U.S.-China relations.

Ms. Bridgett-Jones has over 25 years of experience designing and leading high-impact global initiatives. Between 2010 and 2012, she led the Office of Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in groundbreaking advocacy on internet and religious freedoms. As a member of the White House National Security Staff interagency committee, she helped develop the Open Government Partnership, a featured public-private partnership launched by President Barack Obama’s administration and the Government of Brazil.

Previously, Ms. Bridgett-Jones managed c-suite affairs at the United Nations Department of Political Affairs and devised preventive diplomacy plans in South Asia. As an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), she wrote about U.S. foreign policy and democracy promotion after a decade of leading governance initiatives at the U.S. 
Agency for International Development (USAID). Ms. Bridgett-Jones served with the U.S. Foreign Service in the Middle East, Southern Africa, and Central Asia — her final assignment was as an USAID representative to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq, where she set up the first Transitional National Assembly.

Ms. Bridgett-Jones is a member of CFR and the U.S. Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee. She serves on the boards of the Leadership Council on Women in National Security, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, and iMMAP.  She is also a University of Pittsburgh Trustee. She holds a master’s degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and African studies from Georgetown University.


Komal Sahu

Chief of Sustainable Finance, Asia Venture Philanthropy Network

Komal serves as Chief of Sustainable Finance at AVPN. She leads AVPN’s engagement with family offices, HNWIs, private wealth holders, corporations and financial institutions across Asia. In this capacity, she helps these stakeholders achieve their objectives of investing within a framework of impact and sustainability.

Over the last decade, Komal has provided support to a number of social enterprises and charities across Asia. She is an angel investor and an LP in early and late stage funds. Many of her investments have focused on generating societal good. Komal has served as a mentor at a number of incubators and accelerators and has worked with startups including at A Star, a Singapore government led accelerator for science and technology companies that are improving lives through innovation and discoveries.

Komal brings over three decades of diverse work experience in Europe and Asia and US to her role. She is a qualified accountant and a tax expert and began her career as an investigator with the British Civil Service and was focused on the SME sector in London. She subsequently worked for KPMG where she specialized in the fund management industry. Komal has completed numerous assignments at top tier banks and insurance companies in the UK. She has tax expertise in structuring entities and funds and taking companies and funds to listing on the London Stock Exchange.



Anna Lukkarinen

Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University

Anna Lukkarinen is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University, where she conducts research on environmental sustainability in entrepreneurial finance. Working with Professor Riitta Katila, Anna is evaluating how crowdinvestors react to sustainability signals and how the sustainability of fundraising startups evolves over time. Anna’s research has been published in leading academic journals such as Research Policy and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. Passionate about translating science into actionable output, Anna collaborates with entrepreneurs and academic peers to drive sustainable impact. Prior to joining Stanford, Anna worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University, as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, and in investment banking at Citigroup. She has held various board positions and expert roles at sustainability- and health-focused organizations in Finland. Anna holds a Ph.D. in Quantitative Methods of Economics and Management Science from Aalto University and a Master’s Degree in Strategy and International Business from Helsinki University of Technology.