Top 10 Women in Sustainability

Top 10 Women in Sustainability

Top 10 Women in Sustainability

By Cynthia Good and Rachel Pomerance

Welcome to PINK’s list of the Top 10 Women in Sustainability! They are today’s pioneers, employing cutting-edge best practices to lead the movement for corporate responsibility and sustainability.

As issues of sustainability become more critical, corporate responsibility and sustainability programs are gaining a prominent place on corporate agendas.

Although most high-level sustainability programs are still run by men, women are increasingly assuming these roles. This list is meant to showcase the women at the helm and to encourage more organizations to tap women for these key jobs.

After all, “women lead the way in a concern for social and environmental welfare, as revealed in studies by leading institutions over the years,” says Dr. Ann Goodman, executive director of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future. For example, a Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies survey shows 70 percent of women believe the U.S. is in as much danger from environmental hazards, such as air pollution and global warming, as it is from terrorists, compared to just 56 percent of men.

Also considered in PINK’s selection process was the ranking of companies by Calvert Investments, a Bethesda, Md.-based firm specializing in socially responsible investment. PINK reviewed their newly-released analysis and ranking of the S&P 100 based on the values of environmental responsibility, equitable treatment of employees and good governance and contributions to the community.

The women who grace this list have demonstrated real power, passion and authority to make a significant difference in the world through their work and the way they live, bolstered by companies that prioritize these values. They are: Verizon’s Kathryn Brown, Ford’s Susan Cischke, Johnson & Johnson’s Jane Connell, Citi’s Pam Flaherty, Turner’s Betsy Holland, Ernst & Young’s Leisha John, Coca-Cola’s Ingrid Saunders Jones, Wells Fargo’s Mary Wenzel, Intel’s Lorie Wigle and Hyatt’s Brigitta Witt. Our Five Women to Watch are General Motors’ Britta Gross, KPMG LLP’s Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, Dell’s Elizabeth Johnson, Aflac’s Pat Rayl and Seimens’ Alison Taylor.

The women leaders featured share company best practices worthy of emulating, from tying employee bonuses to sustainability contributions and incentivizing customers to hold green meetings, using paper free banking and training staff to reduce waste. These women and their businesses show how to integrate sustainability practices into the corporate DNA and save as well as earn dollars in the process. And they walk the walk, acting as powerful stewards of the environment at work, in their communities and at home.

Betsy Holland


Betsy Holland, Director, Corporate Responsibility, Turner Broadcasting

When your company is named for one of the world’s most revered outdoorsmen and environmentalists, expectations of sustainability are high. Fortunately, Betsy Holland is meeting them. What’s her secret? “It’s easy to work hard when you wake up excited about the impact you can make during a day at the office,” she says. Also, “I surround myself with people who care about making a difference, whether that involves the environment, education or access to the arts or human services.  Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Brigitta Witt


Brigitta Witt, Hyatt Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility

The best in the business lead by example. So when an A/C unit fizzled at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, Hyatt took the long view. And one chiller on the fritz became an opportunity to revamp the entire cooling system and launch the hotel’s Green Energy Management (GEM) project. A $2.5 million investment in a new A/C system saved some 65,000 cubic meters of water in the first year and annually saves the hotel more than $1 million.  Click here for the rest of the profile >>


Ingrid Saunders Jones, Senior Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company/ Chairperson, The Coca-Cola Foundation

“I am proud to say I recycle more than I throw away,” says Coca-Cola’s Ingrid Saunders Jones. Not only has she helped Coca-Cola grow their sustainability efforts, she’s been instrumental in programs like the Haiti Hope Project and the Critical Difference for Women program at Ohio State University. Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Jane Connell


Jane Connell, Vice President, Global I/T Operations and Strategic Sourcing, Johnson & Johnson

Everyone needs some inspiration. For Jane Connell, it comes from Gandhi. Her goal is his mantra: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In Connell’s world, that means demonstrating the role of I/T in sustainability. And she’s proven it, with dollars and sense. Through strategic partnerships with vendors like Microsoft, Verizon and IBM, Connell and her team have earned Johnson & Johnson more than $300 million in cost savings and value. Click here for the rest of the profile >>


Kathryn Brown, Senior Vice President, Public Policy Development and International Government Relations and Corporate Responsibility Officer, Verizon

The former chief of staff of the Federal Communications Commission, Kathryn Brown works with policy makers to use broadband technology to advance energy efficiency, carbon reduction and energy independence.  Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Leisha John


Leisha John, Americas Director, Environmental Sustainability, Ernst & Young

Green nail polish is the dead giveaway that Leisha John lives this stuff. The CPA with more than 25 years experience at the firm says, “I’m lucky to work in an area that I’m passionate about and allows me to make a difference every day.”  Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Lorie Wigle


Lorie Wigle, General Manager, Eco-Technology Program Office, Intel Corporation/ President, Climate Savers Computing Initiative

As head of Eco-Technology for Intel, Wigle is responsible for Intel’s market position in energy-efficient performance and design for the environment. She also leads external programs related to client, server and data center efforts including Intel’s participation in Green Grid and the Climate Savers Computing Initiative.  Click here for the rest of the profile >>


Mary Wenzel, Director, Environmental Affairs, Wells Fargo

Mary Wenzel has been working in environmental issues long enough to see the proverbial paradigm shift. “For so long it seemed there was the implication that being environmentally responsible came at a cost – either monetarily or in doing with less,” says Wenzel.  Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Pam Flaherty


Pam Flaherty, Director, Corporate Citizenship, CitiGroup/ President & CEO of Citi Foundation/ Member, CitiGroup Senior Leadership Committee

Since taking the helm of Citi Foundation in 2007, Flaherty has discovered the value of sustainability professionally and personally. In 2009, after more than 40 years at the bank, her work to help impoverished youth save for college education earned her the Marjorie Magner Lifetime Achievement Award from U.S. Banker.  Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Susan Cischke


Susan Cischke, Group Vice President, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company

Remember when the family went car shopping, and Dad patrolled the vehicle, weighing the glitz of a shiny new car against the sobering cost of filling the tank? What would Pop think of today’s Ford curbing petroleum use not only through fuel but also in the guts of their vehicles, which are now 85 percent recyclable by weight?   Click here for the rest of the profile >>

Women to Watch


5 Women to Watch

The concept of sustainability is about looking ahead and making changes now that will improve the future – for the environment and for business. With that in mind, we’ve also compiled a list of “5 Women to Watch” along with PINK’s list of the Top 10 Women in Sustainability. Remember their names: you’ll be hearing a lot from these women in months and years to come. Click here to read more >>


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