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The past, present and future of environmental leaders

May 16th, 2017

So you may have heard… but Environmental Initiative turns 25 this year. What you may not have heard is that we’re using our anniversary to bring together leaders in our community not only at the Awards, but also in a series of gatherings.

We’re calling these get-togethers “Champions Gatherings,” and we’re having several of them this year to hear from folks like you about our work, your work and the environmental community.

The topics for these Champions Gatherings include:

  • The history of Environmental Initiative
  • A cross-generational conversation with Critical Collaborators and Emerging Leaders
  • Keeping Minnesota’s air clean: where we’ve been and where we’re going
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Environmental Initiative’s future work


We had our second of five champions gatherings last week that focused on celebrating the nominees from the Emerging Leader and Critical Collaborator categories for the 25th Anniversary Environmental Initiative Awards.

If you have been involved with Environmental Initiative for a while or have ever been to the Awards, you know we have never honored individual leaders at this event. We always focus on the collaboration of the projects. But what all those nominated projects have in common is people! So, we thought our 25th anniversary should celebrate some of the great people in our community that are making this work happen.

We had more than 30 nominees for the two categories, but we knew that not all the nominees knew each other. We certainly didn’t know all of them! We thought: what better way to get them all to come together ad learn from each other than by having a happy hour in our office?

At the celebration, nominees and staff got to know each other and congratulate one another on their amazing work. It was amazing to see the inter-generational connections that were made in the room between environmental veterans and those maybe just starting out.

We hope everyone who attended had a great time, made new connections, and felt celebrated. We want to thank all the nominees for the work they have done and will continue to do. Minnesota’s environmental would not be where it is today if it were not for all the work you have done.

A note from Environmental Initiative:
We still have three more gatherings this year. If you are interested in attending or learning more about these events, please contact me at sseymour@en-in.org.

Sacha Seymour-Anderson


Development Director

Net Impact is coming to Minneapolis: What an opportunity we have! Perspectives from a “senior citizen.”

October 7th, 2014

Net Impact Conference LogoOne of my most exciting and interesting opportunities since I retired from Aveda last year has been to work with Net Impact planning their NI14 conference that will be held at the Convention Center from November 6 – 8.

Net Impact is an impressive organization – the leading nonprofit that empowers a new generation to work for a sustainable and socially responsible future. At the heart of their community are over 50,000 student and professional leaders.

Their conferences are among the best I have attended – and in my lengthy career, which included a stint at The Conference Board, there have been many to compare.  I truly speak from experience!

The keys to the quality of their event include interesting and diverse contributors ranging from CEO’s of major global corporations to start-up social ventures; and highly interactive session formats that enable participants – 2700 expected and many of them students and young professionals – to engage and be heard as well as listen and learn.  And this gives everyone the chance to truly understand what young people are thinking and committed to.  For me, personally, the candid and thoughtful discussions at the conference are encouraging and exciting, and these carry over into interesting and engaging “no-host” dinners and other activities in the evenings.

The biggest challenge in a Net Impact conference is choosing from among the many interesting offerings – 130 +/- sessions plus an Expo.   It is akin to trying to drink from a fire hose.  To help participants sort priorities the conference is organized into 10 interest tracks and students are encouraged through discounts to attend in groups in order cover and share as much of the content as possible.  Those of us who attend alone just have to agonize over what to attend!

So, if you want to interact with the sustainability leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow in our own backyard, clear your busy calendars and prepare for 2 – 3 days of highly stimulating learning and sharing.

Our Twin Cities, Minnesota, and upper-mid west communities have much to offer the participants and much to learn from them.  Let us take advantage of a rare and valuable opportunity – I look forward to seeing you there to hearing others’ thoughts about this opportunity.

Chuck Bennett


Retired, Former Vice President of Earth & Community Care - Aveda Corporation
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