John is co-founder of Cherokee Investment Partners, a real estate private equity investment manager. Cherokee has raised four funds with aggregate commitments exceeding $1.5 billion. Since 1990 Cherokee has invested in 540 properties in the US, Canada and Western Europe. John and other Cherokee principals have also formed, managed or invested in over 70 start-up companies in environmental remediation, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, software, finance and other areas. Prior to forming Cherokee, John was a manager at Bain & Company in Boston where he specialized in corporate and business unit strategy and mergers and acquisitions. He serves as Chairman of Hometown America, a leading owner of manufactured housing communities, and is a member of the Board of Advisors of the MIT Sloan School Finance Group. John is also a member of the Board of Directors of Fidus Investment Corp, a publicly traded investment company, and is a director of Cherokee Gives Back.
Daniel Vermeer, PhD
Daniel Vermeer is Executive Director of the Center for Energy, Development, and Global Environment (EDGE) at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, where he directs the center's strategy and operations, research initiatives, and corporate partnerships while teaching teaching students and executives about sustainable business strategy. Prior to Duke, Dr. Vermeer was with The Coca-Cola Company, where he was Director of Sustainable Value Chain, an enterprise-wide initiative to integrate sustainability into Coca-Cola's core business practices, including business planning, procurement, employee engagement, customer relationships, communications, and brand positioning. He also founded and led Coca-Cola’s Community Water Partnerships program, resulting in 125 public-private water sustainability projects in 50 countries, and designed an industry “gold standard” Environmental Assessment Methodology, identifying risks and priorities across over 800 manufacturing facilities in 200 countries. He has directed research projects and consulted with organizations including Bank of America, UN Global Compact, and the Sustainability Consortium. Beyond his corporate work, he has played a leading public role in advocating for water sustainability through speaking, research, and the developing new organizations. He is the founder and chief architect of the Global Water Challenge, a multi-partner organization for innovative water and sanitation initiatives, co-author of the CEO Water Mandate (signed by several Fortune 500 companies), and lead contributor to several policy documents issued through the World Economic Forum, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the United Nations Foundation. He serves on the board of Blue Legacy, an initiative started in 2008 by Alexandra Cousteau to engage individuals around the world through telling the story of our water planet. He holds a Masters degree from the University of Virginia and PhD from Northwestern University.
Suzanne Shelton is the president and CEO of Shelton Group, the country's leading ad agency focused solely on motivating mainstream consumers to make sustainable choices. She founded the agency at age 23 as a one-woman freelance copywriting shop and has built it into one of our country’s thought-leading firms on engaging consumers to buy green and energy efficient products and services. Suzanne is responsible for the vision and successful management of the company, she speaks at about 20 conferences each year, blogs regularly on the firm’s Web site and works directly with the firm’s research team on its proprietary studies (Energy Pulse™, Eco Pulse™, Utility Pulse and Green Living Pulse). She also helps lead the development of strategic solutions that engage consumers across the sustainability spectrum. Suzanne holds a B.S. in Communications, with honors, from the University of Tennessee. In addition, she has a number of professional and volunteer affiliations as Committee member, Alliance to Save Energy International Committee; Committee member, Alliance to Save Energy Evening with the Stars Dinner Committee; AESP Member; Board member, Knoxville Museum of Art; Leadership Knoxville Class of 2002.