Vanessa Keitges, CEO Columbia Green Technologies, Named to President Obama’s Export Council!

September 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Wow, congratulations, Vanessa!  What a coup!


As you can imagine, Columbia Green Technologies, Inc., provider of greenroof systems, is honored by the appointment of Vanessa Keitges to the President’s Export Council, a committee of government and private-sector leaders who advise him on trade and export related issues.


“I am honored and excited to represent the green building industry among these strong business leaders. As CEO of a small business headquartered on the west coast, I believe I bring a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities for exportation of products made in the USA.” ~ Vanessa Keitges, President and CEO of Columbia Green

On Wednesday, September 18, President Obama announced his appointment of the seven new members, including Vanessa, bringing the total up to 26.


Five years after the start of the financial crisis, President Obama believes the U.S.’s economic recovery is well underway although there is more work to do:

“Now, we can still do more when it comes to exports, and thanks in part to new trade deals that I’ve signed as well as obviously really great products and services that you’ve all designed, America now exports more to the rest of the world than ever before.  We’re on track to export even more this year.  Last year, $1 billion in exports supported nearly 50,000 jobs — or 5,000 jobs in the United States.” ~ President Barack Obama on September 19, 2013


President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a meeting with the President’s Export Council, in Room 350 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, Sept. 19, 2013. Seated with the President, from left are: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker; Council Vice-Chair Ursula Burns, Chairwoman and CEO of Xerox; and and Council Chair Jim McNerney, Jr., President and CEO, The Boeing Company (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“This council provides the President with advice on how to increase trade and grow U.S. exports, and I have no doubt that the new members and their expertise will bolster our efforts to help American business, increase exports and boost our competitiveness abroad.” ~ Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker


Vanessa has a dynamic 10-year global career reflecting optimal performance in the public and private sector in the area of business development, marketing and sales.  She purchased Columbia Green Technologies along with local investors in 2009 and the company is currently experiencing significant growth under her leadership.  From 2005 to 2007, she was Sales Director at Site9 in Portland, Oregon.  Vanessa held various positions at VoteHere Ltd., including European Business Development Manager.  She currently serves on the Oregon Zoo Wildlife Board.  Vanessa received a B.A. in Philosophy from Oregon State University.

It’s no wonder President Obama has selected her to be on his Export Council – the first representative from the State of Oregon to be named!

 “Oregon is a trade dependent state where innovative companies grow and thrive, and I am proud to have Vanessa representing Oregon on the President’s Export Council. Columbia Green is a terrific example of how great, home grown ideas can turn into fast growing companies that export innovative products and services all over the world.” ~ Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber


We, along with all of us in our greenroof and greenwall community, are extremely proud to have someone as knowledgeable and capable as Vanessa Keitges representing our industry.

Vanessa Keitges3

We’ve always know Vanessa was a shooting star – in fact, we asked her to participate in our “Profiles of Women Business Leaders Greening the Way” in this year’s Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2013: Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture, held online live from February 12 through March 13, 2013.  Along with four other mavericks, she shared her successes and challenges along with tips for those of us just starting out – look for this video along with all the others to be shown in late 2014.


“It is official – the World’s largest companies, Obama and almost every department head knows about GREEN ROOFING!!!!  Go Green Roofs!” ~ Vanessa Keitges, personal communications, September 20, 2013.

We are confident Vanessa will represent her company, her state, and our industry to the very best of her abilities.  What a great opportunity to promote living architecture – the honor couldn’t have been offered to a better person!


Happy greening,

~ Linda V.

Remembering and Rebuilding: Ten Years After 9/11

September 11, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Everyone agrees that ten years ago, the world changed forever.  The 10th anniversary of the previously innocuous date of September 11 has been commemorated beautifully and poignantly across the United States of America today to remember those lost in the horrific attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania and reinforce our belief that the majority of people are good, as evidenced by so many selfless acts of courage on that day.  And, we must remember and protect; we can rebuild, and we are strong.

I’ll leave politics to the  politicians, and instead talk about rebuilding and remembering.  Construction of the Freedom Tower continues to move forward, and parts of the National September 11 Memorial should be finished by 2013.

Roberta Cruger of Treehugger reported earlier today on “The 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s Focus on Sustainable Design.”  Focusing  on how design can make us feel is a great way to create a positive experience for a heinous act.  In effect, the entire memorial is a greenroof since it is located over structure – with train station and other facilities 70-feet underneath  street level – and is seeking  LEED Gold certification.

Designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, the 9/11 Memorial at the former site of the World Trade Center features bronze panels engraved with the names of those who died on September 11th and the 1993 bombing, surrounding two 60-foot deep pools – described as “large voids, open and visible reminders of the absence.”

A grove of more than deciduous 400 swamp white oak trees on the Memorial Plaza creates a reflective space with ever changing colors to represent the renewal of life in their natural cycles.  The trees were harvested from within a 500-mile radius of the World Trade Center site, with some from locations in Pennsylvania and near Washington, D.C.  :

“The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center will bear solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.  The Museum will honor the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others.” ~ 9/11 Memorial

Two dramatic waterfalls and reflecting pools invite contemplation in the footprints of the Twin Towers.  I’m sure you’ll agree that sustainable design also encompasses the ability to sustain emotional needs and connections to a site.

In the middle of writing this, I received the following messge from our dear  friends  Wendy and Chris Wark in New York City, who allowed me to quote them and use the photo below which Chris took off their balcony this evening:

“On this day of reflection we are left with the confusing and challenging detritus of grief.   How do we as a nation move forward?   How do we as fellow human beings sharing a common planet look to the future?   We know that in grief, in shock there is little but a shrill overwhelming scream that cannot, regardless of its volume shut out the reality of loss.   We also know that with an open heart one finds healing, the opportunity to love again, the chance for peace.   It is in hope of a future that is predicated on justice rather than revenge and healing rather than fear that we are sending this message – this image.   This is what we can see from our home, an amazing array of lights narrowing to a beacon and a focal point which we choose to see as a lighted path to a future that is sane.

Our prayer is that with each day more people can see how each of our actions cause a response; that we are all responsible for our perceptions of each other and that, in the end we are able to discern between self-righteousness and universal rights.  We also pray for healing.  Your healing and our healing.” ~ Wendy and Chris Wark

See  Steven Spielberg’s video The Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero on the Discovery Channel below:

While many of us associate 9/11 with the attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, let’s not forget the other two sites where innocent and brave people gave their lives: the Pentagon and an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  The total number of victims included 246 on the four planes, 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon.  In particular,  I’d like to point out the  25 flight attendants who acted as first responders. Along with the eight pilots, a total of 33 crewmembers reacted immediately and selflessly, and lost their lives on that day as well.

Those of you who know me well, or at least who have read my short bio in  About Us,  know that in addition to being principal of I have also been an international flight attendant for almost 32 years – and so I can relate to this event on many levels.

President Obama and the First Lady today visited each of the three memorials that have been erected on the sites where the planes crashed and later attended “A Concert for Hope” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

A day of national remembrance ends with reflection and healing.  Healing continues with honoring by remembering and rebuilding – of physical places and more importantly with intellectual philosophies and emotional assumptions and convictions.

As I blogged about 9/11 back in 2008, it’s important for us all to continue to  Remember, Honor, Renew…and Imagine a world of compassion and acceptance.

~Linda V.