Green Soapbox 2024: Panelist Reveal

Green Soapbox 2024 Panelist Banner

We are thrilled to announce our panelists for this year’s Green Soapbox event on “Wildfires and Midwestern Air Quality.” Last year, more Midwest communities found themselves bracing for the negative impacts of Canadian wildfires. As smoke polluted the atmosphere, many found themselves asking: How does this impact our public health? Should we anticipate more hazardous air quality days like this in the future? What role can I take in addressing this issue? This event will explore those questions and the wider context of this growing issue. We hope you will join us on Wednesday March 20, 2024 at 5:00pm CT!

Green Soapbox is generous to its presenting sponsor William Blair, which is dedicated to partnering with clients, colleagues, and communities to create a healthier, more sustainable world. We also extend our gratitude to our generous sponsors, RW Ventures and Spaulding Ridge!

Olga Bautista headshot

Olga Bautista is the Executive Director of the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF), a longstanding community organization dedicated to mitigating pollution, holding polluters accountable, and protecting the residents and green spaces in the Calumet Region. Before joining SETF, Olga worked with the Alliance for the Great Lakes as the Community Planning Manager for the Southeast Side of Chicago and was one of the lead organizers for both the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke and the Campaign to Stop General Iron.

Mackenzie Siren headshot

Event moderator Mackenzie Siren serves as the Head of Product at Cloverly, a digital platform empowering businesses to scale their climate action. Dedicated to shaping a more connected, equitable, and climate-resilient future, she is also the Co-founder of Chicago Climate Connect, Chicago’s largest recurring climate event and a place for climate-minded Chicagoans to meet, inspire, and support each other.

Kyra D. Woods headshot

Kyra D. Woods works as a Program Manager in the City of Chicago’s Department of Environment. In her role, she supports environmental and climate policy development including leading the development of the City’s 2022 Climate Action Plan. She also supports other departments in managing climate equity projects such as the 2023 community heat mapping campaign with the Chicago Department of Public Health. Previously, Kyra worked with the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter as the Ready for 100 Chicago campaign coordinator and served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.

Kyra D. Woods headshot

Krista Thomason is a Physical Scientist with the Air and Radiation Division’s (ARD) air monitoring team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 office serving Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 Tribes. In her role, she provides technical support to the Region’s air monitoring programs, evaluates exceptional event demonstrations, and tracks wildfire smoke, local meteorology, and ozone concentrations. Prior to joining EPA Region 5, she worked for EPA’s Region 8 Office in Denver, Colorado and Ohio EPA. Krista has a bachelor’s degree in Meteorology and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Ohio University.

“Along with increasingly frequent natural disasters, worsened air quality is among the effects of climate change that becomes more apparent each year. Like many community leaders, we feel that these issues should be centered in all conversations of climate action because of the severe threats they pose to our collective wellbeing. I’m eager for our panelists to share their expert insights about last year’s wildfires and how our region can address similar events in the future.”

Bill Schleizer

Cheif Executive Officer, Delta Institute

“While William Blair’s history is deeply rooted in Chicago, today we are a global firm with more than 20 offices around the world. As extreme weather events and natural disasters become increasingly more common, William Blair seeks to engage with the local communities in which we live and work to build stronger awareness of the challenges being faced and contribute to possible solutions. Partnering with Delta Institute allows us to do both, and we are delighted to host this year’s Green Soapbox event.”

David Fording

Portfolio Manager, William Blair | Board Member, Delta Institute

“I am proud of our team for highlighting such a hot (pun intended) topic and ensuring we have a panel that represents our diverse experiences, knowledge, and community”

Haroula Kyriacou

Event Co-Chair, Member of the Delta Emerging Leaders Associate Board

The effects of poor air quality are experienced by everyone. The impact is especially felt by communities that have been marginalized and people with compromised immune systems. We have the opportunity to mitigate the negative effects and support healthier communities, and how we do this will reverberate through generations.

Grace Snider

Event Co-Chair, Member of the Delta Emerging Leaders Associate Board


For questions, please contact Patrick Murphy at or 312-554-0900 ext. 31.

Join our Associate Board

Green Soapbox is an annual event organized by the Delta Emerging Leaders (or DELs) Associate Board, a cohort of professionals who are passionate about sustainability. This event kicks off the official recruitment season for the DELs, so please join us to learn more and consider applying to join on board. Applications open later in Spring 2024 for one-year, renewable terms beginning July 1.

Stay tuned

Our third and final panelist will be announced in the near future. Follow Delta Institute on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram for updates on Green Soapbox and the rest of our work!

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