Everyone has heard the old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know"? In this tough economy - it is both. To make it nowadays, a person must have excellent qualifications and great connections.
Everyone has heard the old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know"? In this tough economy - it is both. To make it nowadays, a person must have excellent qualifications and great connections.
In this second installment in our series on leading women in cleantech and sustainability sectors, we offer up our top picks for the sustainability sector. Quite often this category is dominated by women working in Corporate Social Responsibility, as it’s a sector where women have made great strides to gain leadership roles in the last few decades. However, for our series, we are saving those women of CSR for a later post. This let’s us focus more on those women doing unique sustainability work that might otherwise not be noticed. Stay tuned for our Women of CSR post, it’s not far behind!
1. Nikki Pava – Co-founder, EcoTuesday & Founder of Alegria Partners
Nikki Pava is both the co-founder and president of EcoTuesday and part of the organization’s Ambassador team in San Francisco. EcoTuesday is a renowned networking event for sustainable business professionals that takes place every fourth Tuesday of the month in cities across the US. The organization’s 5-year anniversary celebration takes place on February 21st with special guest speaker Brian Black, president of the Sustainable Industries Magazine.
Most recently, Nikki launched Alegria Partners, an integrated marketing and sustainability consulting firm that helps to manage and grow businesses. Clients include Technology Forecasters, Blue Coat Systems, Maestro Conference and Greenopolis. As an independent consultant, Nikki has also worked in a strategic capacity with Williams-Sonoma on a project to decrease waste in their stores and played a key role in implementing Burning Man LLC’s five-year sustainability plan. She also helped Morrison & Forester (one of the country’s largest law firms) establish its Cleantech Practice Group. Nikki has an MBA in Sustainable Business from the Presidio School of Management and has worked in a strategic capacity with Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, and non-profits to develop strategic plans and coordinate teams to reach specific and measurable goals.
Follow her on Twitter>>
2. Elizabeth Sturcken - Director of Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense Fund
Elizabeth Sturcken is the Managing Director of the Corporate Partnerships program at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). There she develops and implements joint projects with leading companies in order to create environmental change. Elizabeth currently works with Wal-Mart to create a broad environmental change in crucial areas of its business, including climate change, China, seafood, and packaging. Additionally, she has worked with FedEx to develop environmentally advanced heavy-duty delivery vehicles. With UPS she helped implement innovative changes in their express delivery packaging.
3. Karen Flanders – Senior North American Representative at Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme
Karen Flanders is a Senior North American Representative at Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme where she contributes to the organization’s mission to draw on world-leading research and networks of Cambridge University to help business leaders address the critical global challenges they face today. Karen is also a Senior Associate (Fellow) with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL). In her 20 years of experience working on the sustainability field, both domestically and internationally, Karen has become an important member of several major corporations, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations.
Prior to joining CPSL and working with PWBSP, Karen served for eight years as the director of sustainability for the Coca Cola Company. Prior to that, she lead the European and global advocacy campaigns for WWF for 12 years. She is also part of the board of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future.
4. Bonnie Nixon – Executive Director, Sustainability Consortium
Formerly an executive with Hewlett Packard, Bonnie Nixon is known for her ability to inspire and serve as a catalyst for transformation in the field of sustainability and social and environmental responsibility. As Executive Director for The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), Bonnie is responsible for providing strategic direction and executing on the TSC’s bold vision for independent global product standards. TSC works to help set the standards and develop transparent methodologies, tools and strategies that will drive a new generation of products and supply networks that address environmental, social and economic imperatives. Some of the Board of Directors representatives are companies and organizations of the caliber of Arizona State University, the University of Arkansas, The Walt Disney Company, Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, Dell and more.
With her more than 25 years of experience in social and environmental responsibility for large corporations, Bonnie serves on many multi-industry consortiums, including global retailers, footwear and apparel, toy, pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, consumer goods and mining. She is also the Board Chair for Sustainable Silicon Valley and Board Member of Blue Planet Network.
5. Marianna Grossman – Executive Director, Sustainable Silicon Valley
Marianna Grossman leads Sustainable Silicon Valley, who’s mission is to create a more sustainable future within the Valley by collaborating with local government agencies, businesses, and community organizations to identify and address the most pressing environmental issues of the area. Marianna’s goal is to catalyze innovation and action to produce economic value, while at the same protecting the environment. She brings more than 25 years of business and leadership experience with knowledge of climate change, sustainable technologies, Total Quality Systems and transformation management. All of this aims to create value for clients across the different sectors of the industry, including the entrepreneurship, computer hardware and software, semiconductors, automotive, educational and civic organizations. Marianna has also both developed and led training courses from executive to individual contributors on four continents. She is an expert in increasing revenues while at the same time taking advantage of both new market opportunities and improved use of energy.
6. Diane MacEachern – Author, Big Green Purse
Diane MacEachern is the founder & CEO of Big Green Purse, the award-winning environment-focused website. She is also the author of the best-selling book Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World as well as Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Clean Up The Earth. She’s also a a regular commentator on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living radio program.
In addition to writing, Diane is a founding member of Green Moms Carnival, one of the most reputed green lifestyle blogging networks on the web. During her career, her main focus has been to empower consumers – especially women – to use their marketplace clout to protect the environment. Due to her passion in these endeavors, Diane has garnered a series of awards and recognitions, including the Best Green Website of the year 2007, being the finalist in the Books for a Better Life award 2008, being featured in the Top 100 Environmentalist Blogs from Design Sprout and much more.
7. Nina Simons – Founder, Bioneers
Nina Simons is a social entrepreneur, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Bioneers, a national nonprofit that helps highlight, gather and disseminate breakthrough solutions to the most pressing environmental and social challenges. Nina’s life and work have been shaped by her passion for the natural world, women’s leadership, systems thinking, and the arts’ capacity to shape culture and consciousness.
Throughout her career, Nina has served as president of Seeds of Change and as director of strategic marketing for Odwalla, being instrumental to the success of each of these companies nationwide. Since beginning Bioneers in 1990, she and her partner and husband Kenny Ausubel have collaborated to grow the organization and its influence. Bioneers now reaches many millions through its annual conferences, satellite conference partners, award-winning radio series, broadcast and print media, interactive website and book series.
Nina Simons has also been vital in restoring the “feminine” to a balanced place in our culture. In 2006, she began offering Cultivating Women’s Leadership, a five-day intensive for diverse women with the passion and capacity to effect change in their communities. This intensive training emphasizes skillful collaboration across differences, and the creation of relationships and networks to cultivate leadership, build alliances and encourage mutual support.
Follow her on Twitter here>>
8. Pamela Gordon – Author, Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment
Pamela J. Gordon is the President and Founder of Technology Forecasters Inc. (TFI), as well as being the Lead Consultant for TFI Supply Chain and TFI Environment. TFI is an organization that helps technology companies create more efficient supply chains while at the same time reducing their environmental impact. She specializes in sustainability and is a popular keynote speaker, having presented at high-tech conferences in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Before founding TFI, Ms. Gordon was a senior analyst at McGraw Hill’s electronics industry market-research firm Gnostic Concepts Inc. She is also the author of the influential 2001 book, Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment. It features 17 electronics companies from around the world and has been required reading at the University of California Haas School of Business.
On top of all of these achievements, Ms. Gordon has received the 2011 Sustainability Summit Community Award which was given in recognition of “the person who has most generously dedicated time and effort to support the development of a legacy of environmental stewardship in the [electronics] industry.”
9. Astrid Lindo – Co-founder, The Living Seed Company
A native of Colombia and raised in Miami Beach, Astrid Lindo always lived close to the earth. This led her early on to understand modern human’s disconnection with the natural world and contributed to her desire to found The Living Seed Company and inspire people to live more harmonious lives with their environments. The organization specializes in providing people with the best possible choices for food diversity.
With her formal training as an interior designer from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, she has also built a career as an ecological interior designer. Astrid holds a Certificate in Green Building and Permaculture, as well as an LEED accreditation. Her firm Astrid Design Studio supports more sustainable practices in the design field.
Follow her on Twitter here>>
10. Stacie Shepp – 2011 Executive Director, San Francisco Green Chamber of Commerce
In 2011, Stacie Shepp was the fearless leader the San Francisco Green Chamber of Commerce. The organization empowers businesses to achieve economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Members benefit from increased visibility, educational tools to improve operational performance, and extensive networking opportunities.
Stacie is also co-founder of Earthsite, a Digital Consultancy for Sustainable Brands that specializes in building web strategies, design and social media marketing campaigns that are sustainable and optimal. Stacie is a graduate of the Green MBA program at Dominican University of CA.
About the author:
Lisa Ann Pinkerton is founder of Women In Cleantech & Sustainability, a San Francisco Bay Area group dedicated to the advancement of women in various environmental and technology sectors. She is also Founder and President of Technica Communications, where she handles marketing and public relations strategies for cleantech and biotech companies. Lisa Ann is a former award-winning broadcast journalist who reported for National Public Radio, PBS Television, WPXI-NBC, American Public Media, and Free Speech TV.
Well in 2011, San Francisco took the title as the “greenest city in North America”. The study, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit studied the environmental performance and commitments by 27 major metro areas in the U.S. and Canada, and we won!
This is greatly due to the efforts of this month’s guest speaker, Johanna Partin. Johanna serves as Director of Climate Protection Initiatives in the office of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, where she advises Mayor Lee on citywide sustainable energy, climate, transportation, green building and other programs promoting sustainability for San Francisco.
In addition to creating change in the mayor’s office Johanna has over 17 years' experience in the fields of renewable energy, microfinance, gender equity and sustainable development, and has worked both locally and in more than 15 countries around the world.
If you are interested in learning more about change starting at the local level and how you can help Johanna and the city of San Francisco keeps it title, come to our next EcoTuesday event January 24th at The W Hotel, SF.
To see what topics Johanna will be discussing and register for this very special event, click here.
Our last EcoTuesday SF was a great success. We had an amazing turn out and we learned a lot. Did you know that IT data centers are responsible for 2% of world emissions, yet they can positively impact the remaining 98% of emissions in the world?
Thank you to our wonderful brilliant speaker, Peter Perrault, from NetApp who was able to explain IT and its role within Sustainability so clearly that even non IT people like me were able to comprehend.
NetApp practices what they preach by “keeping their own house in order first” therefore they have worked hard to receive the first EPA Energy Star certification for a data center. Additionally, they understand that the People portion of People, Planet and Profit is equally as important and offer all their employees 40 paid hours to do community service in the local communities. Must be why they are ranked #5 by FORTUNE as one of the top 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2011(netapp.com).
I also want to say a big thank you to Shelly and John at CompoClay who helped us out tremendously with our last two events and have provided such a welcoming place for all our EcoTuesday attendees.
And finally I would like to extend a warm Thank You to everyone that helped make EcoTuesday a success over the past year, we greatly appreciate your feedback and support and we look forward to an amazing 2012 with all of you!
Living in the Bay Area we are the hub of technology, but how can technology help us become more sustainable? This month, we explore the unique opportunities that tech provides to us to become more efficient and more environmentally responsible, all while saving a tremendous amounts of money.
November’s speaker, Peter Perrault from NetApp, better known as the “Green Giant” is well versed in how to overcome environmental challenges and turn them into real savings. In 2008, “PG&E presented NetApp with a rebate of $1.4 million under PG&E's Non-Residential New Construction Program, which encourages PG&E's commercial, industrial, high-technology, and agricultural customers to implement energy-efficient building and process design and construction” (Netapp.com).
Peter heads NetApp’s Global Sustainability Program and has extensive experience in sustainability and environmental economics. In addition to leading the way in green tech he also is the co-chair of the Environment Committee for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an advocacy organization working to ensure economic health and a high quality of life for the entire Silicon Valley community.
Come learn more about how IT can enable sustainability for the greater good at EcoTuesday SF, November 15th(one week early!).
Please RSVP here.
This month San Francisco EcoTuesday was a little different. The night started with an emerald green jar full of business cards in which we randomly selected 10. Instead of having one main presenter, we opened up the mic for 10 participants to present a 2 minute pitch of their company, organization or initiative to the group.
It was exciting to hear more in-depth what some of the EcoTuesday members are working on. If you didn't make it out, or if you want a re-cap, you'll find a list of who and what was presented along with websites to each company and organization below...
Mike Trenary of Reboot Our Schools which is "A non-profit dedicated to providing public schools with refurbished technology donations - and creating sustainable processes for maintaining those resources.
Jonathan Mooney of Skip To Renew, a bio-based lubricants company. Their first product is a first of its kind, Re:cyclist Bike Chain Lube with other bio-degradable lubricants in development.
Todd Cooper of Waxelene -- Which is a natural & organic petroleum jelly alternative, which I was fortunate to get a sample of and am loving it.
Chris Murphy of Zoom Forth which is a unique online job search which based on your skills, interest and work preferences, will match you with informational video interviews from a database of thousands to help guide your career decisions.
Allen Price of Tresendas which is a social network for people who travel. Tresendas lets you build a network of your closest friends and the close friends of your friends so you have an expanded network of people you can trust for travel recommendations and housing all across the world.
Lindsey Herrema, one of 5 co-founders of The Can Van, presented on behalf of her and 4 other Green MBA Grads from the Presidio Graduate School. The Can Van is a mobile beer canning service which will make getting canned beer more accessible to NorCal craft breweries.
Josh Atlas of the Eight Fold Group, which is a social commerce agency that facilitates access for conscientious consumers to the sustainable products and services they want and need.
Heidi Smith of Carbon Flow, which "provides an integrated suite of software applications used by organizations worldwide to manage, monitor, and monetize their emission reduction and sustainable energy projects."
Ken Jacobus of Good Start Packaging, which provides environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable plastics "with a mission to reduce the massive amounts of single-use plastic clogging our landfills, waterways, highways, and forests."
Libby Klitsch of Tuvalu Design, which helps businesses and organizations through strategic design to reveal their sustainable practices, products and services to the world.
EcoTuesday continues to attract great people doing great work in the world, and it is always inspiring to hear what everyone is up to. The evening ended with our usual networking portion which is a great place to look for a job or that missing link for your project, whether that be a developer, project manager, an idea or just a boost of inspiration you're needing.
I look forward to the next event which will be on October 25th (a Tuesday of course to maintain the continuity of the EcoTuesday name) : ) Location and presenter to be announced soon.
Until then, keep living and greening the dream!
Are you looking to promote your new startup, attract possible funders, or spread the word on a new initiative? If so we invite you to attend “pitch” night on September 27th.
This month we will be hosting a very special EcoTuesday event where we open the floor to 10 lucky participants to “pitch” their organization. Each person will be randomly selected (via a business card entry) and given 3 minutes to "pitch" their company or initiative.
Given that EcoTuesday is known to attract many sustainable business leaders from all over the Bay Area this will be a great opportunity to promote your company while receiving useful feedback.
Additionally, this event will be held at one of SF’s premier green nightclubs, Temple. Who’s vision is ‘to create an eco-concious’ ‘edu-tainment’ complex that works synergistically with all of the entities of the Zen Compound to inspire and work with the community to take on the most challenging issues facing San Francisco and our planet... and have a good time doing it!”
Plus, one lucky person will be taking home a very special raffle prize at the end of the evening!
As you can see this will be a night full of exciting opportunities so don’t miss it. Tickets are selling quickly so please RSVP as soon as possible!
We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, September 27th.
Danny Kennedy, co-founder of Sungevity (the fastest growing company in the residential segment of the solar industry), joined EcoTuesday in July to 'shed some light' on the industry. Over 60 participants from all areas of sustainability joined us at the beautiful Bently Reserve.
Danny's expressed that the solar industry is looking good. There are plenty of jobs and the number will continue to increase as people begin to realize the potential of solar. "The solar industry already employees more people then the U.S steel production industry."
Although solar is currently less than 2% of the overall electricity use in the U.S economy, the exponential growth that is happening will fill the gap. Solar production has doubled - three times in the past three years. The price for solar will continue to decrease, making it more and more accessible for mainstream consumers to purchase. As the price of solar is decreasing, everything else (coal and other fossil fuels), are increasing in price. Solar power will soon be the low cost source of electricity as a result of this growth rate. Sixty percent of Sungevity's customers are in California, and Sungevity saves their customers 15% a month from day one with their particular solar product.
Danny pointed out that "the United States uses 47% of its surface water for steam generation for turbines" (turbines which are used to power fossil fuel stations). He continued, "fossil fuels will be a part of our future for some time. The longer we prolong its use, our children will be worse off. The faster we adopt the lower cost technologies, the better off we are, from both a financial and environmental point of view."
(This blog post is a wrap up of the San Francisco event on May 24th featuring Jeff Mendelsohn, CEO and Co-Founder of New Leaf Paper)
"The paper industry is one of the most resource intensive industries in the world, and one of the slowest to change."
"The paper industry is one of the most polluting and resource intensive industries in the world. It is responsible for over a third of worldwide timber harvest and over 40% of all landfill waste in the U.S. When New Leaf Paper was founded in 1998, the paper industry had demonstrated a high resistance to change. With low margins, a commoditized international market, and huge capital investment in the status quo, paper companies resisted efforts to integrate sustainable principles into their business practices," said Jeff Mendelsohn, founder of New Leaf Paper.
It was inspiring to hear Jeff Mendelsohn talk about the process of changing the 'stuck-in-its-ways' paper industry into a more sustainable system. How did New Leaf accomplish this? How did New Leaf survive in a challenging industry and succeed in making positive change.
Prior to New Leaf, Jeff started New York Recycled Paper Company in 1991 and is a pioneer of this industry. Around the same time various other recycled paper companies popped up around the US but all of them disappeared - except for New Leaf.
What did New Leaf do differently to be successful as a mission driven company within a challenging industry and actually drive change with in it?
How do you change an industry?
Jeff says, "There's a lot of barriers and it's challenging. The paper industry is very resistant to change. Paper mills were designed to make paper a certain way for a quarter of a century, non-stop, to make money. To overcome these challenges, New Leaf created a strategic brand strategy. To change an industry, Jeff mentions you have to first present a positive vision for it. Despite the unsustainable ways of the paper industry, New Leaf never pointed fingers at anyone or pointed out how bad they are. Instead they approached the industry with a "Think and Smile" approach.
"Think and Smile" came to New Leaf due to the understanding that they would never win on a "commodity tunnel vision scenario." "We need people to think about what they're buying and we need them to smile, due to good design, and good products. A lot of environmental messaging before was 'think and frown', which doesn't get you very far."
Four principles New Leaf used to change the industry
Jeff says that a company has to start with a Vision and ask questions, such as "What would a sustainable paper industry look like?"
It all boils down to a sustainable design. Designing an industry, designing a process.
What is sustainable design?
Wiki: Sustainable design (also called environmental design, environmentally sustainable design, environmentally conscious design, etc.) is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability.
New Leaf created a vision for a perfect sustainable mill and identified existing mills that met this vision. At this time, there where only about 3 or 4 in North America; New Leaf wanted to increase this number.
New Leaf's goal became to make the mills even greener. "In changing the paper industry, no one is just going to invest in a green mill without researching the markets. Our role was to "seed" markets and create new products in all these different product categories where nothing existed beyond 20 or 30% recycled paper." To do this, New Leaf bumped up the recycled content to 100% and gave it a clean bleaching process. The goal: "Attract demand, attract competitors and then eventually shift mill design."
Jeff discussed, "attracting competitors," which sounded counter-intuitive to me at first. However, it makes sense when your goal is not just for your own personal gain, but for the betterment of humanity and the planet at large. It would be quite difficult for one company to change an entire industry alone. In this instance, attracting "competitors" is also attracts a more sustainable future. New Leaf was then able to sell their vision to their customers and leverage the demand of these huge companies to drive change up through the supply line.
Bank of America approached New Leaf
B of A wanted to change their letter head to 100% recycled post-consumer paper. New Leaf created their first 100% post consumer letterhead for Bank of America, inspiring most mills in this arena to create competing grades of paper, creating a permanent shift in the market for high-end corporate collateral.
Book publishing - Harry Potter
In 2001, New Leaf created book paper. In 2003, the company provided the paper for the viral book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," catching the attention of the entire book publishing industry. New Leaf decided not to pursue using book paper in its product line, but is proud of the impact it had on getting larger publishing companies to start using 100% post-consumer paper.
The event last month went well, and we were very lucky to hear about such an inspiring, dynamic company that truly cares about creating change in their industry.
- - -
Prior to meeting Jeff I already owned a New Leaf notebook which I keep on me as an alternative to taking notes on my tiny-keyboard smart phone. When I open the 'made from old milk carton' notebook, on the first page of the notebook are cool facts on the amount of post-consumer waste New Leaf has saved (greenhouse gases, fully grown trees, gallons of water, etc.) A live updated version of these stats are found at the top of their website.
Many of us work in small offices or even home offices and have taken a few steps to make our workspaces green. It's time to take these actions a step further - beyond the basics of recycling our paper and printing using double-sided printer settings.
Here are a few tips that will help you decrease your office's energy output, become more efficient, save money, and create a more comfortable work environment for you and for others:
Do you have a great tip for greening your office - above and beyond the using reusable water bottles and utensils? Please share these tips with others at EcoTuesday this month. We'll be meeting in cities across the country on Tuesday, May 24. Please register beforehand - we always like to know you're coming.