New York University Stern School of Business will launch a new Center for Sustainable Business in January 2016, and has announced that Tensie Whelan, currently the president of the Rainforest Alliance and a key leader in the realm of environmental activism and stewardship, will join the Stern faculty to establish and lead it. The Center will assist future and current business leaders in tackling the environmental and human challenges confronting business and society today.
Whelan, an alumna of NYU (BA ’80), brings to Stern 25 years of experience working on local, national and international environmental and sustainability issues. As president of the Rainforest Alliance, Whelan built the organization from a $4.5 million budget to $50 million, transforming the engagement of business with sustainability and recruiting 5,000 companies in more than 60 countries to work with the organization. She partnered closely with sustainability leaders from multinationals, CEOs from around the world, key NGO and United Nations leaders, as well as funders.
“Stern puts a premium on value creation for business as well as society, a philosophy that matches my own,” noted Whelan. “Coupled with its prime location in New York, home to the financial sector, Silicon Alley, the UN and NGOs, Stern has an unprecedented opportunity to drive this conversation. I’m honored to have the chance to pursue this mission with my colleagues at Stern,” she added.
“What’s remarkable about Tensie is not only her courage and conviction to imagine a world in which profit and principle can co-exist, but also her skill and will to transform that vision into action,” said Peter Henry, dean of NYU Stern. “We encourage our students to embrace the tools of business when it comes to tackling some of the world’s most intractable problems. Tensie is the ideal role model to lead by example on issues that are critical to long-term prosperity and economic growth.”
As director of the Center, Whelan will partner with faculty at Stern and across New York University, as well as with leading practitioners from business and civil society, to create new undergraduate, graduate and executive education courses that emphasize real-world experiential learning.
In addition to research and teaching activities, each year the Center will convene groups of companies from different sectors and parts of the world with stakeholders and experts to explore solutions for a major environment and development challenge in the business sector. Whelan will begin teaching in January 2016.