Lisa Matthiessen, Principal, Integral Group
With 15 years of work in sustainable initiatives at firms including Buro Happold and David Langdon, Lisa Matthiessen now manages operations at Integral, one of the most progressive engineering firms in the world. Matthiessen has been an outspoken proponent of diversity in the workplace and specifically is a strong advocate for women in sustainability leadership. She was an original member of the LEED Faculty and recently was acknowledged for her innovative work with the US Green Building Council through her appointment as a LEED Fellow.
Jeanne Gang, Founding Principal, Studio Gang
Architect Jeanne Gang’s innovative work not only adheres to environmentally responsive practices, but also pushes the boundaries of how great architecture should look, feel, and interact with its surroundings. Immediately revered for Chicago’s Aqua Tower, Gang’s work on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Chicago office earned it LEED Platinum status and made it the first office to achieve Living Building Challenge Petal certification. In 2011, Gang won the MacArthur Genius Grant for her contributions to design and technology.
Lynn Jurich, Founder and CEO, Sunrun
What if solar energy was widely available to the average American consumer? That’s the question Lynn Jurich addresses as her company disrupts the notion of centralized energy sources by bringing affordable solar options to residential customers. The company has installed more than $2 billion in solar systems across 11 states, and in 2009, Jurich, who serves on the board of directors for the Sierra Club Foundation, was listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s Ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs.
Anisa Baldwin Metzger, School District Sustainability Manager, US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools
While stationed in New Orleans in 2008, Anisa Baldwin Metzger helped rebuild the public school system to include four LEED-certified schools, a district-wide recycling program, and widely circulated green curriculum resources, helping change the face of education in the post-Katrina landscape. Now, she works in Washington, DC, leading strategy for the Center for Green Schools and managing its Fellowship Program, which places sustainability directors in school districts across the country.
Angela Nahikian, Director of Global Environmental Sustainability, Steelcase
For Angela Nahikian, sustainability on a global scale must always start at the micro level: every piece of office furniture made by Steelcase is individually evaluated for its environmental footprint before fabrication. Nahikian has overseen global sustainability goals for Steelcase since 2005, during which she has been responsible for developing the company’s strategy for integrating environmental policies in assessing materials, designing for recycling, and life-cycle management.
Kathrin Winkler, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC
Kathrin Winkler’s road to sustainability was an indirect one. She originally came to EMC to manage products, not influence green policy. Yet when given the opportunity, she welcomed the challenge, aiming to integrate progressive initiatives into every aspect of corporate culture from targeting e-waste reduction to maximizing recycling policies and educating the corporate community. She serves on the boards of ACEEE and EcoLogic and acts as secretary on the board of The Green Grid.
Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, Founder, Academy for Global Citizenship
Armed with the goal of bringing environmental sustainability, social justice, and health awareness into the educational system, Sarah Elizabeth Ippel launched the Academy for Global Citizenship in 2008 as a charter school under the Chicago Public Schools system. Students learn about renewable energy processes, global food systems, and other environmental topics at an early age, ensuring that the citizens of tomorrow will be well-versed in keeping our world green and growing in a meaningful way.
Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Innovation Accelerator, Nike
When Hannah Jones joined Nike in 1998, she hit the ground running to act as a catalyst for social change at the mammoth athletic company. Responsible for Nike’s Sustainable Business & Innovation team, Jones is constantly rethinking its most fundamental components across the board, from materials and manufacturing to company strategic partnerships. Last year, Jones was awarded the C.K. Prahalad Award for Global Business Sustainability Leadership, which recognizes “globally significant private-sector action that exemplifies the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation, and long-term business success.”
Maya Lin, Founding Principal, Maya Lin Studio
Best known for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, Maya Lin’s work balances art and architecture and often manifests in the form of large-scale installations that outline environmental issues. Prominent works include Storm King Wavefield, Land Meets the Sea, and the What Is Missing? project, which focuses on biodiversity and habitat loss. Lin is also the recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, which recognizes those who have “made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
Michele Whyle, Global Head of Sustainability and Quality, 3M
During her impressive 21 years with 3M, Michele Whyle has developed policy concerning ethical sourcing and human rights protections, overseen global regulatory affairs, and created environmental and safety management processes at manufacturing sites. She also helped create a new adhesive technology that eliminated waste in certain areas of the company’s manufacturing process. Whyle was recently appointed to the board of Dovetail partners, a nonprofit dedicated to providing information about environmental and sustainability to businesses.
Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability, MillerCoors
As the point person for sustainability at MillerCoors, Kim Marotta has worked to reduce water use throughout the brewing behemoth’s supply chain and beer-making processes, helped implement a recycling campaign via a national partnership with Recyclebank, and created major marketing campaigns promoting sustainability. Since 2004, she has succeeded in reducing the amount of water needed for a brew cycle to 3.5 barrels (a measurement of quantity in brewing)—far below the national average.
Read up on 10 more of the most important women in sustainability today here.