Dr. Lawrence Coben is the founder and Executive Director of the Escala Initiative, the innovative community sustainable economic development not-for-profit. SPI empowers disadvantaged entrepreneurs and artisans – the majority of whom are women – living in poverty around the world. It provides basic business education and gives people the tools to build the future they want for themselves, their families, and their communities. Through Escala’s renowned Business School and Capacity Building Program, women and others from low-resource communities are learning how to become profitable and self-sufficient entrepreneurs, helping them earn a dignified living income and better serve their communities. SPI presently works in Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, and Tanzania.
Coben is 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. Dr. Coben co-directs Proyecto Arqueologico de Cañete in Peru. He has published numerous articles on various subjects related to archaeology, the Inca, and sustainable preservation and development.
Dr. Coben is also Chairman of the Board of NRG Energy, the Fortune 500 leading integrated power company in the US. He has started, run, and served on the board of numerous energy companies, including as CEO of several public companies. In addition to NRG, he currently sits on the board of Freshpet Inc.
Coben received a B.A. in economics from Yale University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania.