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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 2022 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. 

Carla Chizmar
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Carla Chizmar is the Head of the ESG department at CIFI, a private financial institution dedicated to energy and infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean, is in charge of developing and implementing an ESG strategy for a platform of USD 500 Million in line with the company’s business plan. She holds a BS degree in Biology, specialized in botany from the University of Panama, a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Yale University and is Certified in Financing and Deploying Clean Energy from a joint program of Yale School of the Environment and the School of Management. She has 18 years of experience in scientific research, applied sciences for global problems, sustainable development, clean energy, climate change, green lending, and impact investment. Prior to CIFI, Carla worked extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean with scientific research organizations (Smithsonian), the academia (Yale University), and multilateral organizations (United Nations). At CIFI, oversees managing E&S risks and impacts of a diversified portfolio of infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean with a 50% share in renewable energy. Furthermore, her role at the company includes compliance with ESG policy framework, stakeholder engagement, identification of green business opportunities and funding, development of tools, and reporting with transparency Carla is currently developing a Decarbonization Strategy to align CIFI’s investment portfolio to a 1.5°C economy, is responsible for the Gender Equality Strategy of the company, and commitments towards Human Rights in all our investments. At CIFI, she was a key member of the team that issued the first Green Bond Programme in Panama for $200MM, designed of an ESG Software, an ESG Key Risk Indicator, and a E&S Risk Scoring System to manage ESG risks. Carla is an Equator Principles Association Steering Committee member, and Lead of the Regional Network for Latin America. She has been with CIFI since 2016, joined the management team of the company in 2018, and in 2019 became a shareholder in Valora Infrastructure Partners, a company that holds over 30% of the shares at CIFI. 

Jan Lo
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Jan Lo is the co-founder and CEO of Lo & Sons, a maker and online retailer of premium travel lifestyle bags. Lo co-founded the company with his mother, Helen, and brother, Derek. After graduating from Yale University (B.A., Social Psychology) in 1998, he attended NYU Stern School of Business (M.Phil) where he also taught Management & Organizational Analysis to undergrads and received a Stern Excellence in Teaching award. At the same time, he became part owner of a successful New York City bar and worked nights as a DJ.

As the company has grown, so has its commitment to environmental and social responsibility. The current collection includes bags made with organic cotton canvas and recycled polyester made from water bottles. Some production is being moved to a solar-powered Cambodian factory aiming to be carbon neutral. Other eco-friendly materials and processes, as well as more forward-thinking manufacturing facilities, are being explored.    

Lo & Sons opened a Brooklyn headquarters in 2016.

Ony Obiocha
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Onyeka is responsible for managing CTNext’s full array of strategic economic development programs focused on fostering entrepreneurship, startup and growth-stage businesses while cultivating a robust innovation ecosystem on behalf of the State of Connecticut. Prior to assuming his role at CTNext, Ony was the Managing Director of the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY), where he deployed capital, developed programming and attracted resources to help students launch and scale for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He also recently served as the Director of Integrated Capitals and Learning at the Heron Foundation and was responsible for implementing practices to embed Heron’s emerging principles into the communities, investments and operational strategies of the organization.

Anastasia O’Rourke
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Anastasia O’Rourke serves as a Managing Director at the Carbon Containment Lab. She has 20 years experience in the environmental sustainability field, as a consultant, entrepreneur, and researcher in Australia, Sweden, France and the US. Anastasia has specific subject matter expertise in standards and certification systems, cleantech venture investing, and sustainable and green purchasing. Prior to joining the CC Lab, Anastasia was a Senior Technical Consultant with Industrial Economics, where she led a sustainability consulting practice working with federal and state governments, large companies, NGOs, and International organizations on program design, management and evaluation. She co-founded Big Room Inc, developers of the .ECO top level domain and the Ecolabel Index website. She was also a founding Board member of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC), a US based 501c3 non-profit. Anastasia holds a Ph.D. from Yale University with a dissertation focused on cleantech venture investing, a M.Sc. in industrial environmental management and policy from Lund University, Sweden, and a B.A. with first class honors from Sydney University, Australia, for which she was awarded the University Medal.

Claire Schlemme
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Claire Schlemme is an ardent environmentalist who saw a need to fix a broken food system in order to protect the planet. After surviving cancer in her early 20s, she co-founded Boston’s first organic juice company. Committed to finding solutions at the intersection of food, sustainability, and accessible nutrition, Claire launched Renewal Mill in 2016. Prior to diving into entrepreneurship, Claire was an environmental consultant at Industrial Economics, Inc. in Cambridge, MA. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University.

Claudia Sosa Lazo
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As a Business Design Lead, Claudia blends tangibility with inspiration to help teams create meaningful solutions that scale. Claudia previously worked as Head of Design and Research at Wave Money, a fast-growing fintech based in Myanmar. Her commitment to implementation stems from a background in product management. She’s worked on solutions at all stages of the product lifecycle while exploring blockchain-enabled land titling at ConsenSys and doing early research on sensors for smallholder farmers at Proximity Designs.