Event Recap: ELPC’s 20th Anniversary Celebration


More than 600 of ELPC’s supporters, friends and colleagues gathered at the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom in downtown Chicago for an energetic exchange of ideas, networking, and fun on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner spoke to the guests about the achievements we are celebrating, strategic opportunities ahead for progress, and our vision for the next 20 years. He also presented ELPC service awards to founding Board leaders Ellen C. Craig and Robert L. Graham.

Chicago Tonight correspondent Eddie Arruza moderated an expert panel that included solar business executive Julie Blunden, Baxter executive Art Gibson and venture manager and political guru David Wilhelm.

The event was dotted with fun videos, meaty presentations, a stunning solar walkway, wind turbines, electric cars and bikes, and a delicious meal with ingredients provided by local farms and sustainable food providers.

ELPC is grateful to everyone who joined us on April 17th. If you couldn’t make it, you can re-live parts of it using the resources below.


Also, be sure to visit www.elpc20.org for information on 20 years of ELPC’s victories.


Around the ballroom, several short videos looped to inform guests about ELPC’s various programs. The embedded playlist with take you through all 6 videos, or you can visit the playlist on our YouTube channel.




Click on the image to download a PDF of our event program as well as the program insert, which has bios of our speakers and event co-chairs.



Select Slides

During ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner’s speech, he discussed issues related to several informative slides, which you can view below (hint: click to enlarge).

Chart-SqueezingCoal Chart-WindGrowth Chart-Amtrak Chart-GreatLakesMercury

Keynote Excerpts

We will update this page soon with some video excerpts of the expert panel and other portions of the event. For now, here are some text excerpts from ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner’s speech:

“ELPC began 20 years ago with a vision, a concept and a stapler.

Our vision: The Midwest needed a hard-hitting and strategic environmental legal advocacy and policy organization. But with a pragmatic Midwest difference: We believed from the start that environmental progress and economic development could and should be achieved together. We set out to shatter the myth that jobs and the environment must be in conflict. This sustainable development principle of economic growth and environmental progress together is now one of the President’s central policy strategies. Our founding vision is becoming today’s reality.

Our concept: The Midwest is central to and strategically important for environmental policy, politics and pollution reduction. The Midwest is our nation’s transportation crossroads. The Midwest has the nation’s largest concentration of old, highly-polluting coal plants, but, also, tremendous wind power resources. The Midwest is home to the world’s largest freshwater supply — the Great Lakes are truly great.

Six states account for 22% of U.S. carbon pollution and 5% of the world’s. The Midwest is the center of our nation’s problems, but we can become a fulcrum for solutions. Solving our climate change problems is the moral, business, economic, policy, political and technological challenge of our generation.

The Midwest Senators and House Members are pivotal key swing votes on almost all environmental legislation. That’s why leveraging environmental progress in the Midwest can catalyze national change.

 We’re in Chicago where politics ain’t beanbag. ELPC plays to win and achieve strong results. ELPC is ambitious — we’re all here to make a major difference in the world. However, ELPC reflects Midwest pragmatic idealism: whenever we say “no” to something we oppose, we always say “yes” to a better alternative. That’s in ELPC’s DNA: Positive environmental solutions.

Also in ELPC’s DNA from Day One — ELPC works with our environmental colleagues, but we don’t talk only to environmentalists. We form diverse coalitions and build alliances with chambers of commerce, energy businesses and labor unions to get things done. At ELPC, we don’t tilt at windmills; we partner with builders of windmills.

With that vision and concept, we had a stapler. ELPC was a start-up in 1993. We stapled the strategic plan and the grant proposals to seven foundations who together pooled $850,000 in venture capital to start up this new entrepreneurial organization. We stapled and assembled the organizational pieces together, building ELPC from the ground up to 45 staff in 8 offices with a budget of $6.5 million. We’ve moved ELPC’s vision forward to reality, achieving tremendous progress. As one leading funder puts it: If foundations measured ROIs on their grants like venture capitalists do, their early investments in ELPC were grand-slam homeruns.”


Over 40 sponsors supported ELPC’s 20th Anniversary event. We are grateful for their generous support! (Hint: Click images to enlarge.)

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