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Larry Coben
Whether in the not-for profit, academic or for-profit sector, Lawrence S. “Larry” Coben has been a groundbreaking and innovative leader, a creator of new organizations, companies, paradigms and ideas. Dr. Coben has also grown and managed these organizations, with his experience including his current service as an executive director of a foundation, a board chairman of a not-for profit theater company, an advisor to a presidential campaign and the founder and CEO of various publicly-traded and private companies both domestically and internationally.

EDUCATION/LANGUAGES Dr. Coben received a B.A. in economics from Yale University (1979), a J.D. (1981) from Harvard Law School, and an M.A (2003). and PhD (2012) in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a fluent speaker of Spanish, with some Italian and French.


2010-Present Dr. Coben is the founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative, an economic development organization providing sustainable business and entrepreneurial opportunities to poor communities where endangered archaeological sites are located. SPI believes the best way to preserve cultural heritage is creating or supporting locally-owned businesses whose success is tied to that preservation. SPI's grants provide a "two for the price of one" benefit: they create transformative economic opportunities for the local residents while saving archaeological sites for future generations to study and enjoy.

Felix Salmon, a financial columnist for Reuters, took note of the extraordinary levels of job creation at SPI’s projects, calling it “impressive”. According to Salmon, as with SPI projects, “if you want to create the maximum number of jobs for the smallest amount of money, the best way of doing so is to provide catalytic capital which helps to give a small business the step-up it needs to sustain new jobs on a permanent basis”. The Milken Institute, in its press release announcing the issuance of its report Cultural Heritage as an Economic Development Resource in Israel, cited Coben’s SPI paradigm as a way to “help local communities leverage loans, philanthropic donations and direct equity to finance targeted development”.

OTHER SELECTED NOT-FOR PROFIT EXPERIENCE Dr. Coben served as President of the Board of Directors of New York Stage and Film, a not for profit theater company from 1995-2003. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Bolivian-American Chamber of Commerce and a former Golf Captain of the Saint Andrew’s Golf Club, New York. He was a member of the New York Advisory Board of Citizens Schools, an afterschool education program.

Dr. 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 and Vice Chairman of its Standards Board. He was recently named to the jury of the prestigious Cotsen Prize in Archaeology. He serves on the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Director’s Council and is a former member of the Governing Board of the Archaeological Institute of America

ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE Dr. 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. NYU professor Richard Schechner, a founder of the discipline of performance studies, described this book as "an important work integrating performance theory, forensics, and classical archaeology to describe and analyze not a “dead past” but pasts that continue to operate as rich repositories of living behaviors", a “must read for scholars in performance and the social sciences” and “exemplary of a new and powerful archaeology of performance”.

Dr. Coben was the director of Proyecto Incallajta, a multidisciplinary project at the Inca site of that name in Bolivia. He has directed or participated in projects in Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Jordan (Petra). He has also written numerous articles and lectured on the Inka, sustainable preservation, empires, performance and complex societies, a sampling of which are listed at the end of this document.


1982-1988 Dr. Coben was one of the founders of Catalyst Energy Corporation, one of the nation’s first alternative energy companies. Catalyst focused on cogeneration, hydroelectric, solar, wind, and biomass facilities, for which the government had provided powerful tax incentives as a spur to their development, and developed several facilities utilizing these sources. When oil prices fell and government support waned, Catalyst shifted to convention energy source facilitates in order to survive. Catalyst was #1 on the Inc. Magazine Fastest Growing Public Company List for the years 1982-1986. Catalyst was sold in 1988 to a partnership of Thomas B Pickens III and an affiliate of Brascan.

1989-1991 Dr. Coben then founded Recovery Corporation of America, a medical waste incineration firm where he was chairman. Recovery grew to be one of the ten largest such companies prior to its sale to a French utility affiliate.

1993-1996 Dr. Coben served as chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange traded Bolivian Power Company, Ltd., Bolivia’s largest private integrated electric generator and distributor. In addition to numerous hydroelectric facilities, Bolivian Power operated citywide distribution grids for the cities of La Paz and Oruro, Bolivia, as well as numerous transmission lines. Bolivian Power was one of, if not the first, company in the world to separate its generation and distribution assets. The distribution assets were sold to Iberdrola, the Spanish electric company, and the generation assets to NRG Energy, an independent power producer. Bolivian Power’s stock almost doubled during Dr. Coben’s 26-month tenure as CEO, a period in which Latin American stock indices declined more than 20 percent per annum. Dr. Coben also founded and served as managing director of Liberty Power Corp., an independent power development firm devoted to the financing, ownership and operation of electric generating and transmission assets in Latin America.

2001-2003 Dr. Coben was the Senior Principal and a member of the Investment Committee of Sunrise Capital Partners, a private equity fund that invested capital in control positions of distressed and troubled middle market companies

2004-Present. Dr. Coben is the chairman and chief executive officer of Tremisis Energy LLC, which purchase and advises businesses in the energy and environmental sectors, focused on renewable energy and technologies. Dr. Coben also founded and was chief executive officer of two eponymous public SPACs, the first of which through a series of mergers is now Halcon Energy (HK), a multi-billion dollar oil and gas exploration and development company and the second sold to a Korean financial entity.

BOARDS OF DIRECTORS Dr. Coben serves as a director of NRG Energy (2003-present), one of the largest electricity generation companies in the United States, and Rurelec PLC (2011-present), an owner and developer of power generation facilities in Latin America. He is Chairman of NRG’s Finance Committee and a past chairman of both the Governance and Nominating Committee the Compensation Committee, and Chairman of the Rurelec Compensation Committee. He was a director of Prisma Energy (2003-2006), the post-bankruptcy filing successor company to Enron that holds its international assets throughout the world, and of the Chilean utility SAESA (2008-2010).

POLICY EXPERIENCE Dr. Coben was co-chairman of the Lieberman for President 2004 National Energy Policy Committee, and co-authored its plan (the Declaration of Energy Independence) to reduce American dependence on politically unstable sources of energy. He is also a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Sustainability and Efficiency Task Force. He contributes to the Huffington Post on energy policy and cultural heritage.


Archaeology of Performance: Theater, Power and Community. Volume co-edited with Takeshi Inomata, published by Altamira Press (2006). Various personal contributions in this volume, including “Other Cuzcos: Replicated Theaters of Inka Power”.

Archaeological Reconnaissance in the Carabaya Region, Peru. In Advances in the Archaeology of the Titicaca Basin. Charles Stanish, Amanda Cohen, and Mark Aldenderfer, eds. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press. With Charles Stanish (2005)

The Museums’ Objects. In Site Museums in Latin America. Helaine Silverman ed. University of Florida Press (2006)

Incallajta, Performance Center of the Inkas: A Digital Reconstruction and Virtual Reality Analysis In From Space to Place: 2nd International Conference on Remote Sensing in Archaeology. Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop, CNR, Rome, Italy, December 4-7, 2006, Stefano Campana and Maurizio Forte eds. With Paul John Boulifard

Some Roads Do Lead to Incallajta: The Double Road from Vacas . Ñawpa Pacha, Journal of Andean Studies, Volume 30, Number 1, pp. 53–64. (2010)

If all the world's a stage then what's an usnu?.
In Inca ushnus: Landscape, Site and Symbol in the Andes, edited by F. Meddens, C McEwan and N. Branch (in press)

Sustainable Preservation: Creating Entrepreneurs, Opportunities and Measurable Results. In Archaeology and Economic Development, edited by P. Gould and P. Burtenshaw (in press)

Theaters of Power: Inca Imperial Performance
. Doctoral Dissertation, ProQuest (2012).

Tiwanaku: Where’s the State (in press). To be published in Contending Visions of Tiwanaku, Alexei Vranich and Charles Stanish, eds.

Blog Entries by Larry Coben

Campesino Turned Entrepreneur: Julio Ibarrola

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2013 | 9:59 PM

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the devastation of the world's cultural heritage, and how empowering entrepreneurs could save it and alleviate poverty in the poor communities where it is found. Julio Ibarrola is one such entrepreneur, who has transformed his life and others in his community from struggling campesinos...

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Empowering Entrepreneurs to Save Cultural Heritage

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2013 | 8:32 AM

Returning stolen objects does not save archaeological sites, creating jobs does. Especially the right kind of jobs.

The Getty, Metropolitan Museum of Art and other similar institutions have repatriated artifacts that were looted from archaeological sites. Most museums have modified their stated policies with respect to the acquisition of unprovenanced...

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Thank You, Jared Diamond

(7) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 5:00 PM

Jared Diamond has a new book out, The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies, and academic anthropologists are again up in arms. Just as they were when he published his famous Guns, Germs and Steel and its successor Collapse. The vituperation and bile by some...

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Why Egyptians Preserve Their Cultural Heritage

(3) Comments | Posted February 24, 2011 | 5:04 PM

Two homes of magnificent ancient civilizations. Two modern countries run by despots. Two massive regime changes. Yet in Egypt citizens rally to protect their cultural patrimony while in Iraq looting and destruction accelerate. Why do Egyptians link arms in Tahrir Square to protect their National Museum, while thousands of objects...

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Nuclear Renaissance? Not in the U.S.A.

(1) Comments | Posted November 5, 2009 | 11:36 AM

There is no nuclear renaissance in the United States--at most a faint glimmer of hope for the end of a long nuclear dark age. President Obama, in his recent energy policy speech at MIT, cited nuclear power as an important part of America's energy future from both a security and...

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Time for the Gigaton Throwdown!

(1) Comments | Posted June 23, 2009 | 6:06 PM

Tomorrow in Washington, the Gigaton Throwdown releases its long awaited report on how to remove a gigaton of CO2 from our atmosphere while building an industry to do it. The report presents a potential path to a robust renewable industry and enhanced energy independence and security. The brainchild of entrepreneur...

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Si Se Puede: Every Chilean Can (and Does) Screw in a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

(19) Comments | Posted March 25, 2009 | 8:04 AM

There is no cleaner, cheaper or more secure energy than the energy we don't use. And much has been written about the potential savings from replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFL). The EU has eliminated the sale of incandescent bulbs in many of its member countries. Yet...

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