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Lawrence S. “Larry” Coben
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Lawrence S. “Larry” Coben

  • Founder and Executive Director, the Sustainable Preservation Initiative

Larry Coben is the founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative, the innovative community sustainable economic development and cultural heritage preservation not-for-profit.  He is also Chairman of the Board of NRG Energy, the Fortune 200 leading integrated power company in the US.  Dr. Coben is also an archaeologist and Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Dr. Coben founded the Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI), a capacity building and economic development organization providing sustainable business and entrepreneurial opportunities to poor communities where endangered archaeological sites are located.

Many of humanity’s most important heritage sites co-exist with some of the world’s poorest people. Their combined futures are not only uncertain, they are in danger. SPI creates economic stability by giving communities the tools to be self-reliant, leveraging their historic sites responsibly and freeing them to thrive. This preserves our collective legacy.

Coben is also an archaeologist and a Consulting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  His most recent archaeological work focuses on Inca imperial expansion and the role of spectacles, rituals and theatricality in ancient societies.

He co-authored the seminal volume Archaeology of Performance: Theater, Power and Community, a study of the importance and use of theatrical performance at public events, rituals and spectacles in ancient societies to create and govern states and empires. Dr. Coben co-directs Proyecto Arqueologico de Cañete in Peru and was the director of Proyecto Incallajta, a multidisciplinary project at the Inca site of that name in Bolivia.  He has published numerous articles on various subjects related to archaeology, the Inca, and sustainable preservation and development.

In addition to serving as the Chairman of NRG Energy, Coben has started and run numerous energy companies.He heads  Tremisis Energy LLC, and was CEO of its two public vehicles. Coben is a former CEO of the NYSE-traded Bolivian Power Company and a founder of Catalyst Energy Corporation. He sits  on the board of Freshpet, Inc., and was an Advisory Partner for the Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Fund.  He is a former member of the Board of the Chilean electric company SAESA.

Coben received a B.A. in economics from Yale University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.A. and PhD in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a fluent speaker of Spanish, with some Italian and French.

Coben is an expert member of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (“ICAHM”). He is Chairman of ICAHM’s Nominations Assistance Committee. He is Chairman  of the Society for American Archaeology’s  Americas Committee, and a former Trustee of the Archaeological Institute of America.

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