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Palo Alto Hires Its First Chief Sustainability Officer

Gil Philip Friend named city's "green" chief.

Gil Philip Friend, Palo Alto Chief Sustainability Officer
Gil Philip Friend, Palo Alto Chief Sustainability Officer
After a nationwide search, the City of Palo Alto announced today that it selected eco-expert Gil Philip Friend as the City's first Chief Sustainability Officer.
 
Founder and CEO of sustainability consulting firm Natural Logic, Inc., Friend begins his new civic role today, at an annual salary of $153,000, with the goal of making Palo Alto the greenest city in America, said City Manager James Keene. 

"Gil is a pioneer in the field of sustainability, and has extensive experience leading and developing strategic sustainability practices for cities and companies across the globe," Keene said. "Gil’s deep experience and connections will be instrumental in making Palo Alto not only the greenest city in America, but also a major contributor to advancing world-class sustainability strategies that link to the San Francisco Bay region and beyond.”  

The selection was made following a national recruitment that included input from community, business and environmental stakeholders, as well as interviews with panels representing a broad section of the community.

Friend’s background includes working with city governments and nonprofit groups to design equitable and environmentally sound economic and community development strategies.”    

“Palo Alto is a remarkable city with unmatched assets,” said Friend.  “I’ve been eager to bring my experience to bear in one place, and I’m delighted this is it. I’m looking forward to working with leaders in the community, business, Stanford, and City staff to build on Palo Alto’s strong foundation, and to contribute to a new, regenerative economy for the planet.”

For the past 22 years, Friend has developed sustainability strategies and roadmaps for companies in the technology, food, energy, retail, apparel and other sectors.

He developed green product rating systems for two large retail companies, led integrated ecoaudits for more than 100 diverse manufacturing companies, and developed and delivered sustainability training for leadership teams associated with public sector organizations.

Prior to forming Natural Logic, Inc., Friend was principal of Gil Friend and Associates, providing strategic environmental management, planning, business development and marketing consultation to businesses, community organizations and municipal governments. 

He developed the City of Berkeley’s award-winning “environmental economy” strategy in 1993, co-developed “eco-efficiency” programs for a major electric utility, as well as corporate environmental policy for a Fortune 200 computer manufacturer.

As a life-long social entrepreneur, Friend served in the Office of Appropriate Technology in the California Governor’s Office; and has held positions as president and CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Network Direct, Inc., a marketing management company serving clients in the environment, education and health industries; founding board member of the Institute for Global Communications and internet pioneer providing technology services to international NGOs in the 1980s; founder and executive director of the Foundation for the Arts of Peace, a communications and marketing company specializing in public affairs programming; and co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, where he built one of the first rooftop farms in the U.S. in 1974.

Named “one of the 10 most influential sustainability voices in America” by The Guardian, and an inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame, Friend began his sustainability career in 1972, first as a participant, then as faculty, at Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game Workshop”, and became one of the first U.S. instructors for The Natural Step sustainability management system.

He is the author of The Truth About Green Business (FT Press) and its audiobook version, The Green Business Field Guide (Natural Logic/Audible.com); co-developer of the Sustainability in Practice eLearning suite; and author of numerous book chapters and hundreds of articles, including an early sustainable business column for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate from 1992 to 1997.

 He has also served as a visiting faculty member and guest lecturer on sustainability, business and design at institutions including the California College of the Arts, Presidio Graduate School and the University of California, and is currently a member of the MBA faculty at Meridian University’s MBA program.  

Friend holds a bachelor’s degree in English from City College of New York, and a master’s degree in Ecosystem Management/Systems Ecology from Antioch University.

 

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