The Sustainability Laboratory


Meet the Board of Directors

Dr. Michael Ben-Eli

Prior to founding The Lab, Dr. Michael Ben-Eli worked as an international management consultant, pioneering applications of Systems Thinking and Cybernetics in management and organization. Over the years, he worked on synthesizing strategy issues in many parts of the world and in diverse institutional settings, ranging from small high technology firms to multinational enterprises, manufacturing companies, financial institutions, health care and educational organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and international multilateral organizations.

In recent years, he has focused primarily on issues related to sustainability and sustainable development. He is author of the widely acclaimed Five Core Sustainability Principles, and has been working to help inspire leaders in business, government, community, and youth to accelerate a peaceful transition to a sustainable future.

Dr. Ben Eli graduated from the Architectural Association in London and later received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Cybernetics at Brunel University, where he studied under Gordon Pask. He was a close associate of R. Buckminster Fuller, with whom he collaborated on research involving advanced structural systems, and issues related to the management of technology and world resources for the advantage of all.

Michael Gukovsky

Michael Gukovsky is a distinguished development economist with thirty years of extensive worldwide experience in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. His experience includes development and management of projects, financing for sustainable development, public-private partnerships, the environment, community-based initiatives, conflict resolution and peace-building.

During his professional career, Michael has been involved with pre-feasibility and feasibility studies of large infrastructure projects, including some in partnership with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, the Global Infrastructure Foundation of Japan, and the Japanese Institute of Global Environmental Strategies.

Over the years, his work focused on issues related to trade, water resources, energy, transportation, inland navigation, and river basin development including hydroelectric power development. Michael served as manager of UNDP Operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, and later as Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the UNDP. He was UNDP’s lead negotiator in establishing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and co-managed it with the World Bank and UNEP in the initial operational phase. He subsequently served as the UNDP Executive Coordinator of the GEF.

From 1992-93, Michael served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Chief of Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL). His responsibilities included facilitating conflict resolution, and implementation of the social, economic, land transfer and electoral supervision of the Chapultepec Peace Accords. He was an active participant at the Rio Earth Summit and subsequently led the UNDP delegations to the first Conferences of the Parties for the Biodiversity and Climate Change conventions in the Bahamas (1994), and Berlin (1995), respectively. He was also an active participant in the preparations and the deliberations of the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002.

Michael holds a B.S. degree from Colorado State, and an M.S. from Yale University, and has done post-graduate work at the University of California in Berkeley. He is a member of South North Initiatives where he has served as President and is currently a member of the Board of Directors. He serves on the Board of Directors of AMEGA, and is a founding member of Sustainable Development Advisors (SDA), a firm providing consulting services in public/private partnerships, climate change, renewable energy and transportation. He has been involved with The Sustainability Laboratory since its early inception.

Manuela Roosevelt

Manuela Roosevelt has been a book publisher since the late 80s, running companies in Switzerland, the UK and now in the States. Throughout her publishing career, she has overseen the publication of over 300 illustrated non-fiction titles in the subjects of science, history, spirituality, biography, current affairs, art history, and gift titles. She has also authored eight books, which have been published in several languages. In 2013, Manuela co-founded Springwood Media, a producer of leading-edge interactive digital academic learning environments for undergraduate and graduate courses. Manuela is the Chair of the Board for the Eleanor Roosevelt Partnership at Val-Kill, spearheading landscape preservation programs as well as Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy outreach. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, and on the Advisory Board of Sanghata Global, an Ashoka-awarded program for social impact investment in areas of need. Born in Bern and brought up in Lugano, Switzerland, Manuela obtained her B. A. in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. She has dual Swiss and Spanish citizenship, and speaks English, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, and French fluently. She has lived in six countries, and has traveled extensively, including crossing the Sahara desert on camel with a Touareg tribe and studying the Dogon culture of Southern Mali. She currently resides in Hyde Park, New York, with her husband and two daughters.

Peter Dean

Peter Dean holds a BFA in Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Boston University Program in Artisanry. He has been a furniture designer/craftsman for 28 years, designing and building one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces for the residential and corporate markets. His work is held in numerous private and museum collections. Mr. Dean has completed numerous residential architectural projects as well as several product design commissions. Prior to attending RISD, Peter was an environmental science major in college. After attending RISD, Peter did two years of graduate study in Psychology and Theology at the University of Notre Dame. For the last sixteen years, Peter has worked as a Senior Critic/Teacher in the Department of Furniture Design at the Rhode Island School of Design where he has taught the Sophomore Studio Curriculum, the Senior Degree Project/Thesis, and Sustainability: Green Materials and Green Behavior, exploring the designer’s responsibility to this important issue. Immersed in the Strategic Planning process for RISD over the past three years and working with a few colleagues, Peter has developed a curriculum on sustainability for the whole school. This is in the form of a concentration entitled, ‘Nature/Culture/Sustainability’ and was inaugurated in the fall of 2012. Peter has designed and will teach the core course for this concentration. Peter has also developed an R. Buckminster Fuller Biennial Design Science Symposium in collaboration with the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD and The Synergetics Collaborative. Mr. Dean is also a board Member of The Marion Institute. This is a charitable organization devoted to making positive and lasting change in the world. Peter has been instrumental in developing the Sustainability Education Initiative as well as the Las Gaviotas Carbon Offset Initiative, which the UN has declared to be the model for third world rural development. So far, the team at Las Gaviotas has planted 20,000 acres of fully canopied poly-culture rainforest with another 10,000 acres to go. Peter has also worked with Las Gaviotas to market the technological innovations developed at Las Gaviotas to other third world rural areas that are contemplating development in a sustainable manner.