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Sustainable Venture Prize Judges

Meet the expert practitioners and innovators who will serve as the Yale Sustainable Venture prize judges for Startup Yale's 2023 pitch competitions.

The Sustainable Venture Prize supports Yale's most innovative ideas for businesses that advance a more sustainable way of life. Past winners include an online social platform to expand the adoption of solar power, a software package for improving forest inventory data, and a sustainable protein producer.

The competition provides participants with constructive feedback from experienced professionals, mentorship from relevant experts, and chances to meet venture capital investors and industry leaders. Winners also receive a cash prize of $25,000. 

Sophie Beckham
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Sophie Beckham is VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at International Paper (IP), a global packaging and pulp company, where she works across the enterprise to advance sustainability strategy development and implementation. Her career has been dedicated to driving sustainable business outcomes through purposeful leadership in consumer goods and forest product manufacturing sectors.

She holds a Master of Forestry degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, now known as the Yale School of the Environment, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY).

Ryan Dings
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Ryan is a venture partner for Connecticut Innovations’ new $100M ClimateTech Fund, which is designed to invest capital and strategic support in early-stage companies whose technologies will address the many challenges presented by climate change. 

In addition to his role at CI, Ryan serves as the founding executive director of ClimateHaven, a climate-tech incubator based in New Haven, CT, and built to support promising early-stage climate technology companies throughout the New England region. 

Prior to these roles, Ryan served as the Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel of Greentown Labs, North America's largest climate-tech incubator with locations in Somerville, MA, and Houston, TX. Prior to joining Greentown Labs, Ryan served as the Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel of Sunwealth, where he helped launch the Solar Impact Fund, which invested in the development and long-term ownership of commercial solar projects throughout the United States. Ryan also served on the executive team of prefab home builder Blu Homes and has advised numerous early-stage clean tech and building tech companies over the past decade. Ryan started his career practicing commercial real estate law in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ryan holds graduate degrees in law from Wake Forest University School of Law and in design from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill.   

Justin Freiberg
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Justin Freiberg currently serves as Managing Director at the Yale Carbon Containment Lab, based out of the Yale School of the Environment. The CC Lab designs, develops and supports novel methods of atmospheric carbon removal and containment. Previously, he founded and directed the Yale Landscape Lab, which utilized the whole of Yale West Campus to create fascinating new venues and support structures for game-changing applied research.

Justin’s background is in building environmental collaborations: he co-founded Encendia Biochar, as well as the Urban Foodshed Collaborative, both of which aimed to close material and social loops to create resilient, sustainable systems. Encendia Biochar won the Sustainable Venture Prize in 2011. Past work with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Added Value, the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, the US-Asia Institute, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture taught Justin the power of engaging communities around shared interests in the natural environment, food and farming, and entrepreneurship. Justin holds a Masters from the Yale School of the Environment, an M.A. and B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University, and a Certificate in Conservation Biology from Columbia University. He has apprenticed under farmers in Italy, France, and the U.S.

Lindsay Greene
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Lindsay is the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), overseeing a 300-acre economic hub for innovative manufacturers and creative makers shaping the future of the industry and tackling big problems of our time. Previously, Lindsay served as Chief Strategy Officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she oversaw economic analysis, business development, inclusive job growth, and innovation strategies. During the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, Lindsay led efforts to activate local NYC manufacturers to produce key medical supplies ranging from gowns and face shields to test kits.

Prior to joining NYCEDC, Lindsay Greene was Chief Strategy Officer for Economic Development & Housing in the New York City Mayor’s office, focusing on economic justice, industry, and job growth, regulatory structures for emerging industries like cannabis, and labor rights. Prior to working for the City, she spent 4 years in senior management at food startups and 6 years working at Goldman Sachs, most recently in the firm’s Urban Investment Group. Lindsay holds a BA in economics from Harvard and an MBA from Yale School of Management. Outside of work, Lindsay has advised early-stage companies, mentored young women of color, and enjoys cooking and movies. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife and two daughters.

Sara Harari
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Sara Harari joined the Connecticut Green Bank in 2021 as the Associate Director of Innovation & Senior Advisor to the President and CEO. She works closely with the President and senior staff to launch new programs to deploy clean infrastructure across the state.

Prior to this role, she worked at National Grid to accelerate the deployment and integration of DERs to the grid, with a focus on advanced control technology and ensuring equitable access to clean energy. Sara started her career designing energy-efficient buildings and thermal power plants for international clients at Jacobs Engineering.

Sara holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management, a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment, and a BS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University. She is on the Board of the Boston Chapter of the Women’s Energy Network.