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Kate Williams

CEO, 1% for the planet

BACKGROUND / Academic and professional background

Kate earned a BA at Princeton University where she majored in history, and an MS at the MIT Sloan School of Management where she focused on Systems Theory.  She has devoted her professional career to educating about and stewarding outdoor places.  In her current role as CEO of 1% for the Planet, she coordinates a global movement of more than 1200 member companies and 4000 nonprofits who together create real and positive change for the planet.  Prior to this role, Kate served in a variety of professional and volunteer positions including a Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, the longest inland water trail in the United States, and Chair of the Board of the National Outdoor Leadership School, an international school focused on outdoor and leadership education.  Kate has also been involved in local politics, serving as an elected official on her town’s Select Board, and she currently serves on the board of the Northern Forest Center.

ACHIEVEMENT/ What is your project, initiative, start-up, company all about?

1% for the Planet is a global network of businesses that donate one percent of annual sales directly to approved environmental nonprofit organizations. More than 1200 member companies in 40 countries give back to the environment through more than 4000 nonprofit partners.  Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, former owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% for the Planet is a global movement bringing the business and NGO communities together to create real, positive change together. To date, our network has given more than $130 million back to the planet.

LOCATION/ In which city, country, part of the world do you conduct your activities?

We are headquartered in the US but our network operates in 40 countries around the world. We have the greatest operational presence in the United States, Canada, France, Japan, South America and Australia.

IMPACT/ What is the positive economic, social, political, environmental…of your activity, project, initiative, start-up, company?

Our member companies make donations direction to our nonprofit partners – $130 million to date.  These dollars result in real change on the ground.  The scope of this change is truly global, but it touches down in very tangible, local ways.  Just a few examples from the last year include such amazing projects as: conservation of the 5,000 acre Babaco Ranch in Mexico, critical habitat for the endangered Northern Jaguar; planting of close to 2 million trees over the course of the next 5 years in critical burn areas across the U.S.; and support for urgent research on “rafts” of plastic trash in our oceans to support targeted clean up efforts and consumer awareness around single-use plastic.

QUOTE/ A saying, quote or reference phrase that tells something about you

Two quotes that for me go together:

  • “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • “Do the best that you can in the place that you are, and be kind.”  (Helen and Scott Nearing)