Celebrating Women in Sustainability: 10 Women Making Strides in Sustainability – Updated January 26, 2011

Filed under: 1sdn,Business Sustainabilty,Lists | |

women's history month women in sustainabilityThere is an increasing number of women who are in leadership roles in sustainability. As part of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at 10 women who are making strides in sustainability and shaping ethical consumerism. Add women in sustainability that you admire to the list in the comments section.

by Aysu Katun, Green Economy Post

In their book “Women in Green,” authors Kira Gould and Lance Hosey argue that women are more likely than men to support environmental causes through voting, activism and consumer choices. Whether this argument is true or not, there is an increasing number of women who are in leadership roles in sustainability. As part of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at ten women who are making strides in sustainability and shaping ethical consumerism.

Erin Carlson

Erin CarlsonAs Director of Yahoo! for Good, the company’s Social Responsibility department, Carlson is responsible for leading Yahoo!’s environmental strategy and corporate social responsibility programs. Her primary focus is inspiring Yahoo!’s audience of over 500 million people to be more green in their daily lives through use of Yahoo! products. She helped guide the development of a new Yahoo! Green site to encourage people to take eco-friendly actions and has driven the creation of Yahoo! Earth Day sites since 2005. She also spearheaded Yahoo!’s worldwide initiative to become carbon neutral and rallied grassroots efforts by launching a Green Team of hundreds of employees across the globe.

Prior to joining Yahoo!, Carlson worked at Nike Inc. in Apparel Sustainability and at Business for Social Responsibility as Environment Program Manager.

Karen Flanders

Karen FlandersKaren Flanders has 20 years of experience working on sustainability matters having worked domestically and internationally within corporations, NGOs as well as intergovernmental organizations.  She is currently a Senior Associate at The Prince’s Rainforest Project responsbile for corporate outreach. Shea Senior Associate with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL).  Through CPSL, she is a Senior Associate with The Prince’s Rainforest Project, where she is currently working to engage the support of corporate America to call for emergency action to help combat climate change by addressing rainforest destruction.  She is also on the board of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future.

Prior to joining CPSL, she served as the director of sustainability for the Coca Cola Company for eight years.  Flanders lived and worked in Europe for 12 years and led European and global advocacy campaigns for WWF – the conservation organization. Fluent in French and Dutch, her affinity for cross-cultural communications dates back to her tenure with a pan-European agency, where she advised corporations such as Mars, L’Oreal and others on European CSR policies.

Hannah Jones

hannah jonesHannah Jones holds the position of Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike and manages the company’s global corporate responsibility efforts, including responsible competitiveness, community investments, social innovation and considered product innovation. She has been working with Nike since 1998 when bad publicity surrounding labour issues was at its height.

Before joining Nike, Jones served as a consultant to Microsoft and Kimberly-Clark on both companies’ community affairs programs. She also worked as the European manager of Community Service Volunteers Media, an UK-based non-governmental organization, where she led pan-European campaigns centering on youth issues.

Diane MacEachern

Diane Maceachern

Diane MacEachern is a founding member of Green Moms Carnival, a blogging network of mostly moms who reach millions of consumers with their green lifestyle tips, product reviews and shopping suggestions. MacEachern is also the founder & CEO of Big Green Purse and publisher of the award-winning www.biggreenpurse.com; and she is the best-selling author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World and Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Clean Up The Earth. MacEachern is also a regular commentator on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living radio program.

Christina Nicholson

Christina NicholsonIn her current role as Director of Sustainable Development, Christina Nicholson is responsible for driving sustainability as a strategic agenda throughout both corporate and brand activities within Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma brands. She has also joined the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) board of directors.

Her background in finance, sustainable design and marketing make her uniquely qualified for this cross sector challenge and she is making great headway on materials and supply chain, energy use and both internal and external brand communications and education. You can watch a video about some of the actions she is taking at William-Sonoma here.

Bonnie Nixon

Bonnie Nixon

Bonnie Nixon and her green team of dedicated sustainability experts are responsible for the short and long term vision, strategy, marketing, messaging and stakeholder relations program for Hewlett Packard.

Over the last decade at HP, Nixon has worked with top level management on environmental, health, safety and social polices and procedures and designed and implemented a world class ethical sourcing and supplier relationship management program.

Prior to joining HP, as an experienced environmental mediator, she has spent more than 24 years working with business, government and non-governmental entities on environmental and social impact assessments and programs.


Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

Dianne DillEnvironmentalist and Human Rights Activist, Dianne Dillon-Ridgley has worked for thirty years on issues of the environment and sustainability, and gender and CSR, both domestically and internationally. Since 1997 she has been a director at Interface, Inc., global manufacturer of modular carpet and a leader in sustainable design. She was a director at Green Mountain Energy for the first six years and still chairs the Environmental Integrity Committee for the company.

She was appointed by the White House to the US delegation for the Earth Summit in Rio, UNGASS-’97 & WSSD in South Africa, making her the only person to serve on all three US delegations. She was also appointed by former President Clinton to the PCSD, his council on Sustainable Development. In the recent US election she worked for 18 months on the Obama campaign from its earliest days in Iowa and was part of the
P-CAP: Presidential Climate Action Project.

Emma Stewart

Emma StewartEmma Stewart, Ph.D., is currently the Senior Program Lead of Autodesk’s Sustainability Initiative. In this role, she leads the design software company’s efforts to optimize its environmental footprint and model sustainability best practices to its 9 million architect, engineer, manufacturing, and construction customers.

Prior to that, she founded and directed the Environmental R&D Division at Business for Social Responsibility, where her team designed corporate initiatives to analyze and adapt to ‘horizon’ issues such as payments for ecosystem services, water footprinting, carbon offsets and trading, climate lobbying, and sustainable product design.

Elizabeth Sturcken

Elizabeth SturckenElizabeth Sturcken is the Managing Director of the Corporate Partnerships program at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) where she develops and implements joint projects with leading companies to create environmental change.

She is currently leading a team of people working with Wal-Mart to create broad environmental change in areas including climate change, China, seafood, and packaging.

In the past, Sturcken led a FedEx project to develop environmentally advanced heavy-duty delivery vehicles. She also led a project with UPS to create innovative changes in their express delivery packaging, resulting in environmental, business and customer benefits.

Kathrin Winkler

Kathrin WinklerKathrin Winkler is Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at EMC Corporation, where she is charged with providing vision and leadership in the development and implementation of EMC’s strategy for environmental and social sustainability. In her previous role as Sr. Director for EMC’s hardware engineering group, Kathrin founded the company’s Engineering Green Team and its Design for Environment program, which are driving leadership designs in environmental stewardship and energy efficiency throughout EMC’s product portfolio.

Kathrin joined EMC in 2003 as Director, NAS Product Management. Her past positions included Principal Consultant/Analyst specializing in enterprise management systems and service level architectures at Renaissance Worldwide, Vice President Technical Marketing in a Web services security startup, and Consultant Software Engineer in Network Systems Engineering at Digital Equipment Corporation. In addition to her work at EMC, Kathrin serves as a Director of EcoLogic Development Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to community-based conservation in Central America and she is on the board of The Green Grid, a consortium of IT companies and professionals seeking to improve energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems around the globe.  She blogs her experiences working with sustainability issues at EMC, on her blog, Interconnected World.

See also PINK  list of the top women in sustainability for 2011.

You might also want to check out the rest of our Women’s History Month series:

Help us make this list more comprehensive.  What women do you know who are making strides in sustainability?

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Author: Aysu Katun (18 Articles)

Aysu Katun is an associate editor at the Green Economy Post. She received her MBA degree from The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, where she focused on sustainability, marketing and strategy. At Fisher, she was a leading member of Net Impact's OSU chapter, which won the Chapter of the Year Award in 2009 . Before beginning her MBA, Aysu worked at Hewlett Packard in Turkey. A passionate traveler, Aysu has been to 27 countries and worked in three. Due to her international experience, Aysu is able to bring a unique perspective to sustainability issues in business.

  • Rena Kallman

    K’Lynne Johnson, CEO of Elevance Renewable Science, (www.elevance.com) is advancing green technology by developing natural oils into high performance waxes, functional oils, anti-microbials, lubricants, additives and other chemicals. While many in your Top 10 are currently working in sustainability at high profile name brand companies, Ms. Johnson and others are quietly pursuing the underlying transformations that will make sustainable alternatives available to those companies!

    • Aysu Katun

      Hi Rena, you are absolutely right. This is exactly why I wanted to extend the list by getting input from our readers. Thank you very much for sharing.

  • http://ovallearchitects.com Carlos Ovalle

    There are a few women that come to mind but the most prominent among them:

    Annie Leonard, creator of “The Story of Stuff” (www.storyofstuff.com) with the Tides Foundation Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption. You have to watch the short on-line video, it will change your perspective on the world.

    Angela Brooks, a principal with the architecture firm of Pugh + Scarpa has been at the forefront of LEED for homes, her work projects have received numerous awards, she has been widely published and is founder of a non-profit. Angela is an active member in the American Institute of Architects.

    • Aysu Katun

      “The Story of Stuff” was one of the first videos I watched related to sustainability a couple of years ago and found it very useful. It’s definitely a great introduction to sustainability. Thanks for sharing.

  • Aysu Katun

    I would like to share two other names that were mentioned to me.

    Melanie Siggs, Vice President Sustainable Markets SeaWeb
    http://www.seaweb.org

    “Just wanted to let you know that the sustainability initiatives at Sears Holding Corp are driven by a lady by the name of Mary Tortorice. Culmination of the last two years she has been in incharge of sustainability was us winning the EnergyStar Retail Partner of the Year award this year.”

  • Heather

    Why are the women featured primarily from American associations and organisations?

  • Meire de Fatima Ferreira

    It is great to know that American women are doing difference in the sustainable development mainstream, but I am sure there are a lot of women around the world doing wonderful things related to this theme. I would like do mention Daniela Barone, Brazilian, Executive Director at http://www.impetus.org in UK and Maria Luiza de Oliveira Pinto e Paiva, Brazilian, Sustainability Director at Santander Group http://www.santander.com.br in Brazil.

    • http://greeneconomypost.com Tracey de Morsella

      This is a US focused blog, written primarily for a US audience. While global issues are covered, most of the content is presented from a US perspective. This is not done to alienate people outside of the US, nor to say that people outside of the US are not worth being covered. On the contrary, if anything, we in the US must do a great deal to catch up with the rest of the world on these issues. However, targeting a web site toward the interests of a specific geographic demographic group. Think Google. The difference is that google is so big, they have a different web site for each country. This approach is an effective way at targeting content, products, and services. There are many England, German, Japanese, etc web sites that target people in their countries. Thank you for providing us women who are making strides in sustainability overseas!

    • Aysu Katun

      Thanks for sharing Meire. It would be wonderful to get other names from around the world and find out what women are doing internationally.

  • http://starburstconstruction.com phil carey

    My wife, Cindy Carey, along with myself, is a sustainable builder who educates our clients and the community about how to have healthier,energy efficient, resource friendly homes and business’. She also has a line of completely non-toxic cleaning products with an incredible fundraising program for schools, helping children to learn about the health and safety of cleaning products to themselves and the community. Not only that, but my wife sits on the advisory board of Home 1st Foundation, a non-profit which is helping build sustainable business’ in America so we can become self-sufficient. I am proud of my wife and wanted to let you know that there are women on the front lines of this movement that are making a huge difference in their communities.

    • Aysu Katun

      Thanks for sharing Phil!

  • David

    What about Martha Wyrsch, President of Vestas America? Vestas is the largest wind turbine company in the world.

    http://www.vestas.com/files//Filer/EN/Press_releases/Local/2009/AM_090518_LPR_UK_04.pdf

  • http://www.aaee.net Joseph Cavarretta

    Perhaps the author should also consider AAEE Past President Debbie R. Reinhart, Ph.D., PE, BCEE, Assistant VP for Research, Office of Research and Commercialization Professor – Civil, Environmental and Construction Dept. College of Engineering and Computer Science, UCF. Dr. Reinhart co-chaird the task force which created the Environmental Engineering Body of Knowledge: http://www.aaee.net/Website/EEBoK.htm.

  • Angela

    Perhaps it should have been an article on the top 100 women making strides in Sustainability! Women actually dominate this field, perhaps in part because of philosophies pertaining to Gaia Theory, Mother Nature, Caring for Creation, Native American teachings, etc.

    • http://greeneconomypost.com Tracey de Morsella

      Hi Angela:

      This is not the only article on women in green careers we are posting during Women’s History Month. It is just the first. Over the next two weeks you will see green posts on women in environmental careers, women in green building, green women in government, women in renewable energy, and women in green education. So, while it won’t be 100 profiles, it will be pretty close about 50-60. Add that we are seeking recommendations from users. I think we will see over 100 discussed throughout the month.

  • Jeffrey Hogue

    What about Michelle Bernhart of True Blue Communications? She is a key leader in the sustainability and social responsibility. I have been participating with on the development of ISO 26000 (Guidance on Social Responsibility) and have found no one quite like her when it comes to the comprehensive understanding of the subject. She is a thoughtful protagonist, consummate blogger, and engaged leader in CSR and sustainability. She even has enough street credibility to be a judge on the Justmeans Social Innovation Awards. It would be very interesting to see her as one of your profiles. Please look her up. http://www.truebluecomm.com/Site/Home.html.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/us/05cncbig.html William Cunningham

    Naomi Davis, environmental evangelist and founder of Blacks in Green. See New York Times Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/05/us/05cncbig.html

  • http://www.fundacionentorno.orf Laura Martín

    Cristina García-Orcoyen, Fundación Entorno-BCSD Españaa Chief Executive.

    Fundación Entorno- BCSD España is the organization of reference for business sustainable development in Spain. Her mission is to work with companies in the business sector to encourage and integrate sustainable development in their strategy, creating the resulting challenges as business opportunities.

    In Spain Fundación Entorno represents the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), leading world organizations in sustainability, with more than 200 international companies.

    Cristina García-Orcoyen is member of the Energy and Climate Change, Corporate Responsibility and Ecosystems WBCSD Working Groups.

    She has focused a very important part of the activities of Fundacion Entorno-BCSD Spain in innovation and efficiency issues related to competitive advantages for the business sector. She encourages and assist companies in their aim to develop environmentally friendly technologies as a must for achieving sustainability.

    Between 1983 and 1996 she was Chief Executive Director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF/ADENA) in Spain. During this period she focused her efforts in the field of the conservation of the natural environment, especially in areas such as biodiversity and ecosystems.

    In 1999 she was elected Deputy to the European Parliament. She was a member of the Commission on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety as well as member of the Industry, Research and Energy Commission, and was Chief of the European Parliament’s Delegation at the COP8 (Parts Conference on Climate Change).

    She participates frequently in Seminars, Conferences and meetings as an expert on sustainable development and enjoys an excellent relation with the Spanish media.

  • Ruth Coelho Monteiro

    I’m member of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Stakeholder Council since it’s begining. I would like to indicate the name of MARINA SILVA, former Environment Ministry of Brazil and a potential candidate to President of Republic by Green Party at next elections (October 2010), for the fabulous work she has done defending a sustainable world for all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thegreenzys Adam Chamberlain

    There are four amazing women all involved in the creation of The Greenzys, an eco-friendly, literary-based children’s brand that teaches green living through books and toys that are environmentally safe, fun and educational.

    Lisa Keyser – Creator/Co-Founder:
Her inspiration for the creation of the Greenzys characters came froma concern for the Earth, along with a love for the animals that we share it with.


    Danielle Mentzer – The Greenzys Book Author:
Danielle is an acclaimed writer of children’s books, family feature films and children’s television shows.


    Cris de Lara – The Greenzys Book Illustrator:
Cris is an award-winning digital artist who has been recognized as one of the top 20 Digital Artists in the world by PC World Magazine.


    Beth Richman – Educational Consultant:
Beth specializes in content development and research for children’s media and has particular expertise in designing educational goals for curriculum-based entertainment properties for preschool and school age children.

    If you would like to know more visit their website http://www.greenzys.com or http://www.facebook.com/thegreenzys

  • Sharon Talbott

    Michele McGeoy, Founder and Executive Director of Solar Richmond: her engineering expertise has advanced the field of solar panel production and installation; her business acumen is expanding the local solar market; her drive for justice is reforming the economics and equity of green workforce development; and her deep empathy and compassion has resulted in long term support and changed lives for many formerly incarcerated people. http://www.solarrichmond.org/index.html

  • http://www.connectthedotsnetwork.org Paul Hagen

    Maikhanh Nguyen, Founder and Executive Director of Connect The Dots, a nonprofit that is bringing best practices around resouce conservation to other nonprofits. Her efforts to educate and implement energy, water and waste efficiency within the nonprofit community is saving organizations thousands of dollars a year in utility bills while saving millions of gallons of water, thousands of kilowatts of energy, and diverting tons of garbage. While renewable energy generation like solar has received much of the media attention, its resource efficiency that has the biggest bang for the buck. Maikhanh is making sure that nonprofits, who’s constituents often bear the brunt of environmental degradation, operate more sustainably, and have more resources to put towards programming by doing so. She’s developed a model that has national applicability.

  • http://www.womenofgreen.com Carolyn Parrs

    There are so many women worthy of a mention here. I noticed most of them mentioned in your post are leaders in the corporate world. But there are millions of mothers and women entreprenuers in the green space that are changing the course of commerce in another way –by starting and growing their own businesses. I have interviewed many of them on my podcast, Women Of Green. WOGs are changing the world one carpet, diaper, cleaning product, one sexy lingerie at a time. Not only by the products they buy, but by the businesses they start.

    Take Liberty Phoenix Lord who lost her 2 1/2 year old baby to toxic poisons in her home and started a green building store, Indigo Green Store (named after her baby) in her community so no other mother would ever have to experience what she did.

    And then there’s Margarita McClure, a mother of three who refused to put disposable diapers on her babies because she knew that the chemical in the liners contain sodium polyacrylate, the same substance removed from tampons in 1985. So what did Margarita do? She started Swaddlebees, now a 2 ½ million dollar company that manufactures organic, totally cool cloth diapers that have moms dumping the disposables for a healthier choice for their babies

    These are the true mothers of invention. And as a mother and green business owner myself, I started Women Of Green to tell their stories, to turn up the volume of their voices and encourage other women to do the same.These women may not have the big corporate titles, but they are sisters in sustainability that need to be heard and recognized too.

    Carolyn Parrs

    http://www.WomenOfGreen.com
    http://www.MindOverMarkets.com
    http://www.GreenMarketingBlog.com

    • http://greeneconomypost.com Tracey de Morsella

      Hi Carolyn:

      Thank you for bringing these trailblazers to our attention. This is the first in a series are spotlights. Yesterday, we published a list of women in solar and wind energy. Next week we will be publishing a list of female envirnmentalists, women in education, green design and also government. On the final week we will be publishing a list of women in green IT. I think that is it. By the end of Women’s history month, we hope to have presented over 60 women from a variety of backgrouns. We also hope that these spotlights prompt people like yourself to bring other women to our attention as well as the attention of our readers

      Thanks Again

      Tracey

    • http://greeneconomypost.com Tracey de Morsella

      PS Thanks for bringing http://www.WomenOfGreen.com to our attention

  • http://globalactionplan.com Marilyn Mehlmann

    Excellent – inspiring! – and… Yes very American… and without Hunter Lovins? Or Hazel Henderson? Even from this side of the Atlantic they would be high on any list.

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  • http://www.bauerus.com Valerie Patrick

    Patricia DeMarco, Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association (www.rachelcarsonhomestead.org). Rebecca Lucore, Director of the Bayer Foundation and lead on Bayer’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program. Ursula Mathar, VP Sustainability at Bayer AG (www.bayer.com) located in Leverkusen Germany and on the board of WEC (World Environment Council). Also I am Sustainability Coordinator for Bayer in North America.

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