35 Female CSR Leaders You’ve (Possibly) Never Heard Of

These women perform proverbial miracles inside their companies every day. Do you recognize them?
These women perform proverbial miracles inside their companies every day. Do you recognize them?

Men still dominate CSR, at least at the higher levels. GreenBiz’s 2011 salary survey found that two-thirds of VP of Sustainability roles at large organizations are held by men – and it will surprise few readers to find that there was a 20 percent pay gap between men and women at the highest levels of sustainability.

Yet, the connection between gender diversity and CSR runs deep. Study after research study has found that simply having an executive team with gender diversity is highly correlated with having a strong CSR performance – even when those women aren’t working in CSR.

And of course, despite the statistics, we’ve come across a number of inspirational women slowly but steadily inspiring sustainable change. Here are 35 of them. To keep things reasonable we limited ourselves to CSR leaders within organizations – those women cranking out the CSR strategy and CSR reports who you don’t get to hear from very often. We also threw in a few thought leaders to round out the list. There are many more, of course. You should probably give these ladies a raise!

In alphabetical order and without further ado…

1. Pamela Alabaster, SVP Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs, L’Oreal USA
Pamela leads the CSR function for L’Oreal USA. L’Oreal was recently lauded by 3p correspondent Leon Kaye for their beautiful CSR report which goes far beyond skin deep.

2. Ephi Banaynal dela Cruz, Director, Social and Environmental Accountability (SEA) and Audit,
Microsoft Corporation

Ephi was recently tapped to head Microsoft’s hardware supply chain, Social and Environmental Accountability and Audit program. Microsoft scooped her up from SAP where she led sustainability strategy and developed a stunning, in-depth CSR report.

3. Mary Capozzi, Senior Director, Sustainability/Corporate Responsibility, Best Buy
For five years, Mary has led the CSR team at Best Buy, spearheading initiatives like Best Buy’s innovative Buy Back Program.

4. Molly Cartmill, Director – Corporate Social Responsibility, Sempra Energy
Molly directs and manages the corporate responsibility reporting function at Sempra Energy, including production of the company’s annual corporate responsibility report.

5. Ginny Cassidy, Corporate Citizenship Consultant, Medtronic
Medtronic sets the bar extremely high for sustainability reporting and Ginny has managed their Corporate Citizenship Report project and related corporate citizenship communications for over six years.

6. Robin Connell, Manager, Sustainability Programs, Del Monte Foods
Robin is responsible for the overall development and implementation of Del Monte Foods’ sustainability strategy and initiatives.

7. Tamara “TJ” Dicaprio, Sr. Director, Carbon and Energy, Microsoft Corporation
TJ drives Microsoft’s environmental strategy by establishing the long term environmental footprint reduction and renewable energy strategy.

8. Jacqueline Drumheller, Environmental Affairs Manager, Alaska Air
In 2008, Jaqueline co-founded Alaska Airlines‘ corporate sustainability program and she is currently responsible for the corporate sustainability, environmental audit, and data management programs at Alaska Air and Horizon Air.

9. Jennifer Dudgeon, Principal Program Manager, Office of Sustainability, CA Technologies
CA Technologies, a public IT management software and solutions firm, provides sustainability software to its clients, among other products. Jennifer is responsible for the development and execution of the company’s sustainability strategy.

10. Karen Hamilton, Vice President, Sustainability, Unilever
Unilever has made a huge splash on the sustainability scene this year, thanks to bold proclamations from CEO Paul Polman. Karen is a key member of the sustainability leadership at Unilever, based in London.

11. Laura Hodgson, Director, Social Responsibility, Nordstrom
Laura manages the team and program dedicated to improving working conditions in global sourcing communities.

12. Catherine Gunsbury, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, General Mills
Catherine leads the CSR reporting efforts at General Mills. We recently sat down with her to talk about her role and General Mills’ approach to sustainability.

13. Joanne Howard, Manager of Sustainability, Spectra Energy Corp
Joanne manages and guides the implementation of enterprise sustainability practices at Spectra and creates a platform for the ongoing integration of these practices as part of Spectra’s business strategy.

14. Hannah Jones, VP of Sustainable Business & Innovation, Nike, Inc.
Hannah stewards the Nike, Inc. sustainability strategy and leads the Sustainable Business & Innovation team.

15. Cecily Joseph, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility & Compliance, Symantec Corporation
Cecily oversees Symantec’s Office of Ethics & Compliance, the Symantec Foundation, Community Relations and Symantec’s global corporate social responsibility program, which includes environmental, social, and governance program development, integration, and alignment.

16. Gail Klintworth, CSO, Unilever
Gail Klintworth has been with Unilever for over 25 years, including a stint as chief executive of Unilever South Africa. She’s currently Chief Sustainability Officer and is responsible for driving Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

17. Hunter Lovins, President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions
Hunter was called a “green business icon” by Newsweek and a millennium “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine for her 30 years of work framing the sustainability movement, setting forth the business case for energy efficiency, renewable energy and resource productivity and climate protection. She is president and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions and co-creator of the “Natural Capitalism” concept.

18. Annie Longsworth, CEO, Saatchi and Saatchi S
Annie is CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi S, the sustainability arm of the global communications and consulting firm committed to creating lovemarks – high love, high respect brands and products.

19. Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability, MillerCoors
Kim has a multi-faceted role with the MillerCoors – the second largest beer company in the U.S. She is the sustainability brand manager, oversees sustainability reporting and policy, and also focuses on energy and water stewardship.

20. Jennifer Mattes, Director, Global Public Affairs, Johnson Controls, Inc.
For the past five years, Jennifer has been responsible for global public affairs including sustainability reporting, global employee volunteer programs, and global philanthropy for one of the world’s leading green building and energy efficiency companies.

21. Marilee McInnis, Senior Manager, Southwest Airlines
Marilee founded the SWA green team and now manages the sustainability programs for SWA, including producing the ONE report – the company’s integrated report on the triple bottom line of Performance, People, and Planet.

22. Susan McPherson, SVP/Director of Global Marketing, Fenton
Fenton is a communications firm with a unique mission: to serve the public interest by creating powerful issue campaigns that make change, and Susan runs the CSR practice. She’s also the leader of the popular weekly #csrchat on Twitter.

23. Bonnie Nixon, Senior Advisor, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.
Bonnie has 25 years of experience in this industry, including three years as the Director of Sustainability for HP and a stint as Executive Director of The Sustainability Consortium.

24. Beatriz Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Coca-Cola Company
Beatriz sets the overarching sustainability policies and strategies at The Coca-Cola Company and generates leadership systems around them.

25. Agata Ramallo Garcia, Senior Director, Sustainable Business & Innovation, Nike Inc. Agata is responsible for leading the integration of sustainable business practices in business operations across Nike, Inc. She oversees Sustainable Business & Innovation’s strategic/business planning processes including the financial valuation of sustainability initiatives, sustainability performance management and reporting, sustainability data and analytics, and sustainable innovation portfolio/pipeline.

26. Stephanie Rico, VP, Environmental Affairs, Wells Fargo
Stephanie is the lead for sustainability and environmental issues at Wells Fargo, including environmental and CSR reporting, communications and marketing.

27. Laura Rubbo, Director, Corporate Citizenship, The Walt Disney Company
Laura manages the International Labor Standards department’s global factory monitoring program, external stakeholder engagement strategy, broad policy development, and creation of executive briefings and external communication materials, including the ethical sourcing section of the Corporate Citizenship report.

28. Beth Sauerhaft, Director, Global Environmental Sustainability, Pepsico
In her role, Beth focuses on the connection between environment, agriculture, and health and nutrition policy. Her team has a unique approach to CSR – focusing on opportunities and risks presented by social and environmental issues.

29. Shauna Sadowski, Director of Sustainability, Annie’s, Inc.
Shawna leads the gourmet organic mac and cheese company’s sustainability efforts including tracking and analysis and the development and implementation of programs to ensure that the company abides by its philosophy to source from trustworthy people and places they trust.

30. Kathleen Shaver, Director, Corporate Responsibility, Mattel
Kathleen leads strategy and execution of Mattel’s public reporting of corporate responsibility initiatives.

31. Aman Singh, Editorial Director, CSRwire
Aman directs content creation, distribution and syndication for CSRwire, a leading digital media platform for CSR and sustainability news, views and research.

32. Koann Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder/Chief Executive, Sustainable Brands
Koann conceived of, launched and continues to grow Sustainable Brands – a learning, collaboration, and commerce community which now includes over 50,000 sustainable business leaders from around the globe.

33. Karen Solomon, Co-Founder & Advisor, Opportunity Green Media
Karen is the co-founder and advisor to Opportunity Green, a multi-purpose media, event and consulting platform promoting innovative products, technologies and companies.

34. Andrea Thomas, SVP, Sustainability, Walmart
Although many critique Walmart, it’s clear that the super store retailer has changed the very meaning of CSR. Andrea leads Walmart’s sustainability efforts.

35. Kindley Walsh-Lawlor, VP Social & Environmental Responsibility, Gap Inc.
Kindley is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to further integrate social and environmental objectives into the company’s Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands.

Special thanks to Nancy Mancilla, CEO of ISOS Group, an integrated sustainability agency specializing in GRI sustainability reporting, CDP climate change reporting and external assurance, for suggesting many of the names on this list. She’s a rock star sustainability leader in her own right!

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. Share the female CSR leaders you know in the comments!

[Image credit: Heather Carpenter Costello, Flickr]

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California.When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

37 responses

    1. Our pleasure! We tried to limit this list to 1 person per company to keep things reasonable. Next time around we should do a list of she-powered teams rather than individuals!

  1. I’m lucky to work with Beth Shiroishi, VP of Sustainability & Philanthropy at AT&T. She’d be a great addition to your list!

  2. Congratulations to all the hard working CSR professionals who appear on this list, and to the countless others who are not listed. You do all of us women working in this field proud!

      1. I had written to Andrea regarding the same. I recommend Jayanti Mishra. She chairs the subcommittee D13.40 – Sustainability of Textiles, ASTM International – the first Indian woman to hold this position and is providing essential input through collaborating with the SAC.
        She is also in the Steering Committee at The Green Signal –
        India’s first comprehensive sustainability ecolabel.
        Through her work, Jayanti is instrumental in inspiring and
        enriching the lives of many a people – ~5000 operators in our factory and the 30,000 farmers in our organic farming communities.
        Jayanti works with Pratibha Syntex Ltd. a textile vertical manufacturer based in India.

  3. So many to add! Off the top of my head… :-)

    Charlene Lake, Chief Sustainability Officer, AT&T
    Cynthia Curtis, Chief Sustainability Officer, CA Technologies
    Laura Asiala, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Dow Corning
    Sandy Nessing, Managing Director, Sustainability, American Electric Power
    Suzanne Fallender, Director, CSR Strategy & Communications, Intel Corp.
    Kara Hurst, CEO, The Sustainability Consortium
    Alice Korngold, CEO, Korngold Consulting
    Suzanne Keel-Eckmann, Director, Corporate Responsibility, Deloitte US
    Christine Bader, Human Rights Advisor, Business for Social Responsibility
    Suzanne Hunt, Senior Advisor, Carbon War Room
    Cheryl Newman, Vice-President, Deputy Chief of Mission, Honest Tea
    Lisa Neuberger-Fernandez, Global Strateg & Policy Lead, Accenture
    Liz Maw, CEO, Net Impact
    Sarah Severn, Senior Director, Stakeholder Mobilization, Nike
    Kellie Kreiser, Thunderbird for Good

  4. Lots of great Australian women in sustainability! Here’s just a few that come to mind:

    Romilly Madew, CEO Green Building Council of Australia
    Maria Atkinson, Founder Green Building Council of Australia, Former Global Head of Sustainability, Lend Lease
    Anita Mitchell, General Manager Sustainability, Lend Lease
    Cate Harris, Head of Sustainability Australia, Lend Lease
    Alicia Maynard, Head of Sustainability, Bauldestone Construction
    Sam Mostyn, Board Director, Corporate Sustainability Advisor
    Alison Ewings, Head of Sustainability, Westpac
    Emma Herd, Director Emissions & Environment, Westpac
    Amanda Steele, Head of Community, Stockland
    Emma Synott, Commission for a Sustainable London 2012
    Anna Skarbek, Executive Director, ClimateWorks Australia
    Pauline Gregg, General Manager Environment, Telstra
    Meg Lupton, Sustainability Manager, Insurance Australia Group
    Nina Collison, Sustainability Manager, Insurance Australia Group
    Armineh Mardirossian, Head of Sustainability, Woolworths Australia
    Paula Benson, GM Corporate Responsibility, National Australia Bank
    Carol Adams, Global Director, Standards, AccoutAbility

  5. Thank you for mentioning me alongside such accomplished women. I fear my
    role in CA Technologies Sustainability strategy has been overstated as that
    work is the result of my CSO and mentor, Cynthia Curtis. I merely assist when

  6. Vandana Verma, Programme Director, IKEA Foundation. Vandana joined IKEA in 2002 and is currently based in New Delhi. She manages and oversees programme partnerships, and holds an additional role as Children’s Ombudsman for IKEA South Asia, where she supports business teams on preventing child labour in the supply chain.

  7. men and women bring different skills to the table, i think a 50/50 mix is the best, women have an uncanny ability to manage people and keep them happy. They also have a great mind for details and doing things right, so they are invaluable for sure to any organization. Men tend to have more logistical savvy generally speaking, they are great for figuring out how to accomplish things on the ground, but are not as nurturing as women generally speaking. i am glad there are 2 sexes, life would be a nightmare otherwise!

  8. I’d add Amy Hargroves, Director of Corporate Responsibilty at Sprint. She’s done a lot for the wireless industry – helping drive greener cell phone standards, improving supply chain engagement and has been a huge advocate for renewables. Most recently lobbying for the production tax credit for wind which just passed!

  9. Great list! We have featured several at the Women In Green Forum – http://www.womeningreenforum – including the amazing Jen Boynton who should be on this list! We are looking at this list and the comments below for ideas for 2013 speakers as we expand the forum to the East Coast this year with events in Los Angeles and Washington DC. Thank you!!

    1. You forgot to mention that YOU should be on this list, too, Jaime :) As the President of Three Squares Inc., one of the nation’s leading environmental consulting firms, the Founder of the Women In Green Forum, which helps bring women leaders in the environmental industry together to learn and network with each other, a member of the National Women’s Business Council, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, etc, etc, etc… you are doing great things for the environmental movement!

  10. You may add some European female CSR managers as well, as e.g. in Austria Christine Jasch, PhD, working at IÖW also for larger companies, or Petra Gallaun at telekom austria, Vienna, Austria

  11. Great list. Just want to add Marianna Grossman of Sustainable Silicon Valley. The nonprofit organization helps companies in Silicon Valley be sustainable and socially responsible. I also think that Lisa Jackson who is stepping down as EPA Chief ought to be on this list. I’ve worked with both of these women and know that they are dedicated to sustainability and social responsibility, and making the change that needs to be made not only in the corporate world, but everywhere. In the future, it would be great to see the women who are founding and leading change at small companies that are built around a sustainable and socially responsible culture.

  12. Great work with this story Jen! So awesome that so many more names/lists are coming in, and with a global perspective. This is a few additional stories and a phenomenal resource for learning about leadership from these pioneers and impact creating women!

  13. Jen, thanks for putting this list together. It’s of practical use to me as we try to put together a more diverse lineup of speakers at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green. One name I would add – Liz Maw, executive director of Net Impact. (Disclosure: I’m on the board.) Net Impact is a real force for change–helping thousands of students and young professionals choose careers that make a difference in the business world.

    1. that’s so great to hear. There are so many innovators in our field and they don’t always get the attention they deserve for potential speaking slots. Meanwhile, many of us who regularly work the sustainability conference circuit hear from the same folks again and again. I can’t wait to see the line-up for Fortune Brainstorm Green!

  14. I’d also add Amy Knight, Director of CSR at Hasbro, to this list.
    She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Green Electronics
    Council/EPEAT. Prior to joining Hasbro she led Hewlett-Packard’s global
    citizenship efforts for many years.

  15. I’d like to add a few of my colleagues who are among the best in the industry:

    Laurie Schalow, Head of CSR for Yum!; Led development of company’s first CSR strategic pillars and framework initiative

    Angela Osting, CSR Manager for Yum!; Orchestrated company’s first global volunteer initiative

    Shelley Morehead, BOOK IT! Program Administrator; Leads the country’s largest and longest running reading incentive program

    Bridgette Bell, Sustainability Manager for Yum!; making major in-roads in environmental and sustainable practices including the company’s first global packaging policy

  16. Jennifer Duran, Reckitt Benckiser’s (RB) Global Sustainability Manager. RB is a UK-based world leader – with U.S. headquarters in Parsippany, NJ – in health, hygiene and home and has a portfolio of global consumer brands such as Durex, Finish, Lysol, AirWick, Woolite and Clearasil. RB has shown a strong commitment to sustainability through its recent initiatives,
    including the announcement of their new betterbusiness sustainability strategy, which is RB’s long-term goal to focus on addressing three major global challenges: water conservation, more sustainable health and hygiene innovations for women around the world, and further decreases of its carbon footprint.

  17. Lisa Reynolds, founding member of the green building council in South Africa is the Sustainabilty Director for Saint Gobain, South Africa

  18. I’m working on a similar list of women in government sustainability because it is great to recognize the contributions of these leaders. Thanks for the inspiration, Jen!

  19. All these women- are awesome. However you missed a couple of my favorites in food! @emilymiggins formerly @Safeway Sustainability for Supply Chain and now director @BAMCO and Diane Holdorff at Kellogg’s…

  20. Some additional truly exceptional sustainability leaders within their organizations:
    -Christine Madigan, VP for Responsible Leadership, New Balance
    -Andrea Asch, Manager of Natural Resources, Ben and Jerry’s
    -Denise Taschereau, CEO, Fairware
    -Jill Dumain, Director of Environmental Strategy, Patagonia
    -Lorrie Vogel, General Manager Considered, Nike
    -Shona Quinn, Sustainability Leader, Eileen Fisher
    -Jenn Vervier, Director of Sustainability & Strategic Development, New Belgium
    -Nancy Hirshberg, VP for Natural Resources, Stonyfield
    -Betsy Blaisdell, Senior Manager of Environmental Stewardship, Timberland

  21. There has never been a greater need for leaders across all sectors to address our most pressing global challenges through sustainable models and practices. Presidio Graduate School has successfully leveraged its entrepreneurial foundation to stay ahead of an ever-increasing demand for knowledge, information, and education related to sustainable business. Check out Presidio’s programs: http://www.presidioedu.org

  22. Don’t forget those working in developing countries, like Nour El Houda Benomar, Deputy Director of Coordination, Communication and Partnerships within the Sustainable Development Department at OCP. She is leading the first every OCP-GRI efforts. OCP is located in Morocco and it is the world’s largest phosphate mining company.

  23. Gaia Human Capital Consultants’ (Cleantech executive search consultants) Partner and Evergreen State College’s Zoe Van Schyndel, CFA continues to make impressive strides in the field of Socially Responsible Investing and Conscious Capitalism. Congratulations to everyone chosen and I would like to include Zoe to this list of exemplary leaders.

  24. Jane Okun Bomba, SVP Sustainability, Investor Relations, Corporate Communications at IHS. Absolutely all around amazing person, and female role model in Sustainability and all aspects of Business.

  25. Erin Meezan, Vice President of sustainability at Interface; Cristina Amorim, chief sustainability officer at Life Technologies.

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