Board Voices: Leading through transformation
Environmental Initiative has a long history of convening corporate, government, and non-profit leaders. As a young woman early in my career almost a decade ago, I was drawn to how the organization brought people together from various sectors to solve systematic challenges because that approach was innovative at that time.
Through that work, the organization became and remains a trusted entity with many established long-term relationships and an ability to find innovative ways to solve complex environmental challenges. The work is meaningful, and I wanted to be part of it.
The board of directors was made up of primarily older white men when I joined. While the other board members were welcoming, it took time to build relationships and find my voice in that space. But I was driven by a desire to bring more diversity and inclusion to the board’s work.
Our board committee was very intentional about diversifying the board and inviting in people with different backgrounds and perspectives. Our thesis was that we need to engage everyone if we want to solve problems for all. The board today is very different than it was when I joined and having a more diverse set of voices at the table has been instrumental in leading this new people-focused approach.
I played an active role in rebuilding Environmental Initiative’s strategic plan, working with consultants and many outside voices to put equity at the forefront of the organization. We deeply assessed the mission and direction of the organization. After many conversations and deep learning, we ultimately came to a shared vision that is now being executed.
I knew after the strategy refresh, as my second term was wrapping up, that it was time to give my spot to someone with a different perspective. Someone who could lean in and play a role in this transformative moment in Environmental Initiative’s history.
There’s been much progress since I left. Meaningful shifts in hiring, expanded project work, new relationships centering equity, and decision-making processes which intentionally include community are all examples I see the refresh we envisioned in action. The shift may not be happening perfectly, but I’ve noticed real, meaningful change.
Environmental Initiative is a leader in the environmental movement, and I think there’s an opportunity to model these collaborative sustainability and equity approaches and teach others how to replicate it. I hope you will join me in supporting this critical work!
Eliza Clark served on the board of directors from 2014-2020. She is an environmental leader with deep experience in community and corporate work.