Lawrence Coben

Chair, WHS Nomination Assistance Committee

Lawrence “Larry” Coben is the founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable Preservation Initiative (SPI). SPI ( seeks to preserve the world’s cultural heritage by providing sustainable economic 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.

Coben is also a University of Pennsylvania affiliated archaeologist.  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. He has authored numerous articles on the Inka and preservation among other topics.  He has directed or participated in projects in Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Jordan (Petra).  Most recently, he directed Proyecto Incallajta at the monumental iInka site of that name in Bolivia.

Coben has also served as CEO of numerous public and private energy companies, and sits on the board of publicly-traded energy companies, such as NRG Energy.  He is also active on matters of energy policy. He co-wrote the national energy policy for the Lieberman 2004 Presidential Campaign. He serves on the Department of Homeland Security’s Sustainability and Efficiency Task Force and Cleantech and Green Business for President Obama. Coben writes an energy and cultural heritage column for the Huffington Post.

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