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Thematic Session: Local and Regional Governments Leading the Way to Sustainable Communities

3 - 4:30 p.m.

Local and regional governments are leading the way to “Build Inclusive and Sustainable Communities.” As the closest government entity to their citizens, they are uniquely positioned to make a difference in people’s lives, while also being on the frontlines of responding to climate change and its impacts on communities. These local governments are making meaningful progress in reducing carbon emissions, becoming more resilient to a warming world, and improving air quality while doing so in an equitable manner to ensure the needs of their citizens are being met.

Collaboration is the key to success. This Thematic Session will explore and emphasize the power of multi-stakeholder networks to share information and amplify impact. Concrete examples from several Utah communities will highlight how local governments and civil society organizations have worked together to craft programs, policies, and regulations to create more sustainable communities. Speakers will include senior-level city sustainability staff, a state representative, and local nonprofit partners. They will detail legislation that created a pathway for large-scale renewable energy development, electrified transportation initiatives, and community food production.

Attend this session if you work for a municipal government; represent a civil society organization that is looking for examples on ways to collaborate with your local government; or have an interest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, improving air quality, electrified transportation, food security or equitable program design.


Vicki Bennett
Vicki Bennett, Sustainability Director, Salt Lake City
Vicki Bennett is the Sustainability Director for Salt Lake City, working with both city agencies and the public to create a more livable community. She holds a degree in Chemistry from the University of California at San Diego, and an Executive MBA from the University of Utah. Vicki’s experience includes sustainability program management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, energy policy, food security, waste diversion and environmental compliance. She established and has led Salt Lake City’s award-winning Salt Lake City Green sustainability program for 18 years, which has integrated sustainability policies throughout governmental operations and Salt Lake City as a whole. She is founding member of both the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Utah Climate Action Network. @slcgreen


Representative Patrice Arent
Patrice Arent, Representative, Utah House of Representatives - District 36
Utah State Representative Patrice Arent has devoted most of her life to public service. She is widely known for her ability to collaborate with diverse groups to solve serious problems facing Utah. In her 19th year in the Legislature, she has served in both the Utah House and Senate. She has passed over 80 bills on a wide variety of topics including air quality, identity theft, education, tax fraud, outdoor recreation, and healthcare. Representative Arent is the Co-Chair of the House Ethics Committee, Founder and Co-Chair of the Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, Co-President of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, and has served in House Leadership. An active community volunteer, she serves on many boards of many organizations. A graduate of the University of Utah and Cornell Law School, Representative Arent worked in a private law firm, served as Associate General Counsel to the Utah Legislature, was a Division Chief in the Utah Attorney General’s Office, and taught at the University of Utah College of Law. She currently works with her husband in a small family business.
Luke Cartin
Luke Cartin, Environmental Sustainability Manager, Park City
Luke Cartin is the Environmental Sustainability Manager for Park City, Utah. He oversees Park City’s goals of achieving net-zero carbon and 100% renewable electricity for city operations by 2022, and community-wide 2030. These goals are the most ambitious in North America for any municipality, and one of the most aspiring world-wide. There are many programs underway, including; electrification of city fleet and buses, bringing on large scale renewable investment, quantifying open space as carbon sinks, and pursuing net-zero energy buildings.
Debbie Lyons
Debbie Lyons, Deputy Sustainability Director, Salt Lake City
Debbie Lyons currently serves as the Deputy Director of Sustainability for Salt Lake City. In this role, she oversees Salt Lake City’s Sustainability initiatives, which include programs and policies to advance environmental justice and food access, reduce emissions that lead to climate change and poor air quality, conserve resources, and engage the community on all sustainability matters. Ms. Lyons has had over 20 years of environmental management and sustainability experience with Salt Lake City starting with the implementation of Salt Lake City’s first curbside recycling program. She specializes in public policy development and in recent years, her work has been focused on equity, sustainable development, and building strategic alliances with surrounding local government organizations, businesses and non-profit organizations focused on food access, equity, and environmental protection. @slcgreen
Supreet Gill
Supreet Gill, Food Program Manager, Salt Lake City
Over the past 15 years, Supreet has been engaged in community food systems on all levels – as a farmer, program manager for a refugee agriculture project, coordinator of urban farming and farm to school programs, and nutrition educator to name a few. Her experience has provided her with depth understanding of food systems, and she is passionate about creating programs that improve urban and ecological resilience through sustainable agriculture, equitable community engagement, and synergistic partnerships. Supreet recently joined the Sustainability department at Salt Lake City as a program manager, and she is excited to work on building capacity of community residents and leaders to enhance the regional food system and improve community health and well-being. In her prior position with Salt Lake County’s Urban Farming and Open Space program, she worked on numerous projects focusing on public lands management and community food systems. In her spare time Supreet enjoys being outdoors and sharing delicious leisurely meals with her family and friends.
Tyler Poulson
Tyler Poulson, Sustainability Program Manager, Salt Lake City
Tyler Poulson focuses on energy and climate issues for the Salt Lake City Department of Sustainability. He collaborates with city departments on implementation of internal Climate Response Plans that reduce carbon pollution and enhance climate preparedness. Tyler also works on energy policy and projects on a community scale and helped inform the city’s recent commitment to net-100% renewable electricity. He previously worked in the finance sector and has a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Utah.
Sarah Wright
Sarah Wright, Executive Director, Utah Clean Energy
As founder of Utah Clean Energy, Sarah has a proven record of accomplishment in the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency within the state of Utah. As Executive Director, she has effectively fostered diverse partnerships with state agencies, municipal governments, industry, agricultural groups and community groups to advance clean energy solutions. She is an intervener in regulatory proceedings and a witness in legislative hearings testifying in support of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Sarah brings over fifteen years experience with the Utah industry where she served as an environmental consultant providing occupational health and ambient air quality permitting services. Sarah holds a B.S. in Geology from Bradley University, and an M.S. in Public Health from the University of Utah.