A Lifetime of Leadership

It is not often that we get to meet our heroes face to face. But on our recent MBA study tour to Seattle that happened for me. I’d known of Denis Hayes and his work since he led the first Earth Day Celebration in 1970. We climbed six stories of the beautiful stairs in the new Bullitt Center, the “greenest commercial building in the world”, to meet him. The Bullitt Foundation office was elegant, yet democratically arranged in an open fashion, a wall full of books behind his desk. We all sat at a glorious handmade wood & metal table in the glass-enclosed conference room, watching the sunset over the city of Seattle, while we listened. He talked of almost fifty years of environmental politics, battles won and lost, lessons learned, changes witnessed, progress made. To say he cares deeply is an understatement, to see his continuing engagement is inspiring. How does one stay out in front, leading the way, for so many years? As the CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, and the driving force behind this amazing building, it is clear that Denis Hayes has a practical streak. But his dreams have never been limited by what looked possible to accomplish….he always tries to actually do things right, the way he knows they could be, even if nobody has done it before. A visionary, yes. But one who understands the value of business, and who has been leading us all towards a more sustainable world, one project at a time. Thank you, Denis.

Written by Dr. Laura A. Strohm, Program Manager of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices,
Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.

Written by lstrohm@uoregon.edu

Dr. Laura Strohm is the Program Manager and Senior Instructor of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.