Dr. Coben is the founder and Executive Director of the not-for-profit Sustainable Preservation Initiative (“SPI”). SPI preserves the world's cultural heritage by providing sustainable economic opportunities to poor communities where endangered archaeological sites are located. SPI’s paradigm alleviates poverty by empowering local entrepreneurs and creating jobs that are dependent on the preservation of cultural heritage sites. 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 an archaeologist and lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. 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. He has directed or participated in projects in Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Jordan (Petra).
Coben has started and run numerous energy companies. He heads the Tremisis Energy group, and was CEO of its two public SPACS, one of which is now the oil and gas company Halcon Resources (HK). Coben is a former CEO of the NYSE-traded Bolivian Power Company. He is a member of the boards of NRG Energy and Rurelec PLC. He serves on the Department of Homeland Security's Sustainability and Efficiency Task Force. Coben writes an energy and cultural heritage blog for the Huffington Post. He co-wrote the national energy policy for the Lieberman 2004 Presidential Campaign Coben has a BA in Economics from Yale, a JD from Harvard Law School, and a PhD in Anthropology (Archaeology) from the University of Pennsylvania.