Business and Society Program

2012 First Movers

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program is please to announce the fourth class of First Mover Fellows. These individuals are working within companies to unite business growth with a sustainable society in the products and services they are developing. This year's Fellows come from a wide variety of industries.

 Download a complete list.

Nicola Acutt VMware

Nicola J. Acutt, Director, VMware Foundation. Nicola J. Acutt, Ph.D., is the Director of the VMware Foundation, which is focused on providing a platform for the virtualization and cloud computing company's more than 11,000 employees across 40+ locations to be active corporate citizens and make a difference in the communities in which they live and work, and in the wider world. Nicola developed and runs the global programs, including the signature Service Learning initiative, which represent a twist on traditional corporate philanthropy by amplifying the personal commitments and contributions of the company's employees rather than giving money away at the corporate level. Ultimately, Nicola is a champion for applying the principles of innovation and collaboration to building a culture of service and corporate citizenship at VMware. Prior to joining VMware, Nicola was the Associate Dean and faculty member at Presidio Graduate School. She has worked as a consultant to the South African Government on natural resource policy and, as a Ph.D. candidate, undertook research at the Center for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment in the UK.  Originally from South Africa, Nicola received a Commonwealth Scholarship to complete her Ph.D. at the University of East Anglia in the UK, and has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

 Dawn Baker

 Dow Chemical

Dawn L. Baker, High Potential Program Manager, Human Capital Planning and Development, Dow Chemical. Dawn manages Dow's High Potential and executive development programs as part of the Human Capital Planning & Development (HCPD) team.  Dow combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. Dawn's focus is on preparing Dow's High Potential talent for leadership challenges of the future, accomplished through career planning, deployment, on the job and structured development opportunities. This approach contributes to optimal individual and organizational effectiveness while building succession capabilities. In 2000 Dawn joined Dow in Midland, Michigan, and has contributed to the company's people and organizational goals in Employee Benefits, Human Resources Development & Training, Workforce Planning based in Switzerland and Site HR Support based in Texas. Dawn's experience also includes roles in Dow's Customer Service, Supply Chain and Business Services organizations. Dawn is a certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Masters Degree in Human Resources & Labor Relations, both from Michigan State University. She resides in Midland, Michigan with her two children.

 Jenifer Bice


Jenifer Bice, Senior Director, Global Associate Communications, Walmart. Jenifer has more than 15 years' experience in the corporate communications and marketing disciplines. Since joining Walmart in 2008, she has been responsible for strategic internal communication to the company's officers around the world, the Global People Division, Finance Division and currently Walmart U.S., the company's largest division. She joined Walmart in 2008 from Sprint Nextel in Kansas City where she was the Chief of Staff for the company's Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to that assignment, she was a company spokesperson in Sprint's Industry Analyst Relations department and held leadership roles in the Internal Communications department. Previous to Sprint Nextel, Jenifer was a communication manager for Camp Fire Inc., headquartered in Kansas City, and held similar roles at Camp Fire of the Ozarks and the United Way of the Ozarks. Throughout her career, she has won local and international awards for communication excellence, including the prestigious International Association of Business Communicators' Gold Quill award, recognizing the best and most strategic communicators in the world. She has effectively lead direct and cross-functional teams to achieve business objectives. She has experience in strategic planning, executive communication, operational communication, event planning, branding, fundraising, media relations, cause-related marketing and electronic media, to name a few. Jenifer has a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Management from Missouri State University and a Master's Degree in Management from Webster University.

 Erin Bina

 General Electric

Erin Bina, Solar Execution Leader, GE Energy. Bina joined GE in 2009 as a Renewable Energy Leadership Program associate and served in a variety of roles including Wind Services, Global Projects, Commercial Management, and Solar Operations. Prior to GE, Bina was a Strategy Consultant with Harmonic International, a strategic positioning, planning and research firm. Dealing primarily with the Federal Government sector, Bina contributed to the forward thinking strategies of NASA, NOAA, USSTRATCOM and one White House Administration. Her work with NASA Earth Science sparked an interest in climate science which led her to pursue her passion for Renewable Energy. Bina holds an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University where she focused on Strategic Operations and Manufacturing. While at Johnson, she co-chaired the 2009 Net Impact Conference committee, an event which brought nearly 2,500 people from around the world, including GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, to Ithaca NY to discuss socially responsible business practices. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from the Farmer School of Business at Miami University of Ohio and co-founded Miami's first Entrepreneurial Research Laboratory, a student run business incubator for innovative students. Bina was the youngest recipient of the "2006 Baltimore Business Journal 40 under 40" award. Bina enjoys spending time with her husband, cat and two dogs in Ballston Spa, NY.

 Cory Brandt

 AngloGold Ashanti

Cory Brandt, Senior Engagement Advisor - Continental Africa, AngloGold Ashanti (AGA). Cory Brandt has served as AGAs Senior Engagement Advisor for Continental Africa since early 2011 developing stakeholder engagement and relationship management systems, and facilitating dialogue to improve the shared benefits of mining in partnership with communities, governments, civil society and others.  He covers operations in Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Namibia, Tanzania, and DRC for AGA from his home base in Kenya. Over the past 15 years, Mr. Brandt has worked for UNDP and the UN Development Group, the United States Agency for International Development, and NGOs in more than 20 African countries as a communicator, knowledge manager, capacity development specialist, trainer/facilitator and grant writer. Prior to living in Africa, Mr. Brandt co-founded Columbia University's first-ever department supporting faculty to develop online courses and innovate in teaching with technology, designed digital library solutions at the Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College, served as Director of Libraries at the Dalton School in New York, and worked in libraries and archives at Harvard and the University of Michigan. Hailing from Minneapolis, he holds a BA in East Asian History from Oberlin College, and a Master degree from the University of Michigan in Information and Library Studies.

 Nathaniel Bullard


Nathaniel Bullard, Director of Content, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the clean energy, carbon markets, power, and water analysis group within Bloomberg LP. Nat oversees cross-sectoral analytical projects in clean energy, with a focus on international trade, the solar industry, and innovative financing mechanisms for clean energy. He works closely with Bloomberg's Sustainability team in guiding the company's own clean energy and energy efficiency investments. He also guides analysis and content for BNEF's annual Summit, which gathers 500 clean energy leaders to discuss the future of energy technology, policy, and finance. He is frequently cited in major publications, including The Economist, New York Times, Technology Review, and Scientific American.  He also appears regularly on Bloomberg Television. Nat joined what was then New Energy Finance in 2007, two years before the company was acquired by Bloomberg LP. He holds an MA in International Energy Policy and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and an AB, magna cum laude in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University. 

Joseph Byrum 



Joseph Byrum, Global Head of Soybean Seeds and Traits R&D, Syngenta. Specifically, Joseph leads the global soybean breeding, trait research and product development which delivers improved genetics and trait technologies for soybean growers. Joseph has extensive global experience in plant genetics and biotechnology having been actively involved in soybean research for 20 years, spanning genetics, genomics, breeding, physiology, compositional analysis, grain origination and end-user applications. Since joining Syngenta in 2006 he has held a variety of roles in Syngenta's organizations. Most recently he led the Global Scouting and Acquisition team responsible global innovation initiatives. Dr. Byrum obtained his MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Michigan State University. He earned his doctorate in plant breeding and Genetics from the Iowa State University.

 Jeff Chapin


Jeff Chapin, Designer, IDEO. Jeff uses design as a means to address longstanding social and environmental issues that exist in developing countries and back home in the United States. He strongly believes in a user-led approach to design, engaging local communities in the research, ideation and testing that leads to new products and services. At home in the United States, Jeff focuses on health-, environment- and government-related work. Recent projects include the redesign of a state emergency operations center, the improvement of trash services in Boston, the design of high energy density batteries for grid and telecom applications and the design of a home energy monitoring system. Jeff's evolving expertise in the developing world includes projects that address water, sanitation and health-related issues. His project portfolio includes the design of market-based sanitation products and services, water filters to provide households with clean drinking water and treadle pumps to aid in crop irrigation. Jeff frequently lectures on the topics of social innovation, green design, global health and product design, and has taught courses at Stanford University, Harvard University, MIT and Technisches Universitaet (TU) Muenchen.  Jeff holds an MS in Product Design from Stanford University and a BSE in Civil Engineering and Geological Engineering from Princeton University.

 Blair Cobb


Blair Cobb, Senior Director, Cause Marketing, AOL Inc. Blair is responsible for the development and management of AOL's relationships with non-profit partners and the advertisers that support them. Blair was chosen by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong to create this department in June 2010, because of her passion for connecting media entities with social causes. In this role, Blair's key objectives are aimed at identifying and aligning AOL's unique set of resources to connect and inform the world on the non-profits key messages. Her efforts have resulted in a centralized giving platform called AOL Impact, which provides pro-bono placements across multiple arms of the company including, AOL Mail, Patch and the Huffington Post. Last year alone, Blair's efforts resulted in $25 million worth of donated media to 400+ non-profit partners and 125 advertising and agency clients. Blair is deeply involved with Citizen Schools, an education-based non-profit that extends the learning day for low-income students. She sits on their New York Board of Advocates and has spent two semesters teaching middle-school students in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Blair holds a BS in Telecommunications from the University of Georgia. She also received a certificate in Corporate Citizenship Management from Boston College's Carroll School of Management. In her spare time, Blair is an avid runner, having completed the 2009 ING NYC Marathon, and most recently completed her eighth half marathon in Brooklyn, NY.


 Aslihan Denizkurdu


Aslihan Denizkurdu, Director, Corporate Strategy, Citigroup. Aslihan works closely with senior leadership and management teams across business units and geographies to help align and optimize Citi's business model and network against core market trends and targeted client segments. With current focus on Emerging Markets, her main responsibilities are centered around the development of long-term strategies and facilitation of informed decision-making in priority growth countries. Before rejoining Citi, Aslihan was a Senior Research Analyst on the buy-side at AllianceBernstein with coverage responsibility for U.S. banks. In this role, between 2009 and 2011, Aslihan was a part of the research effort underlying AllianceBernstein's advisory work to the US Department of Treasury relating to the management of TARP portfolio. Between 2006 and 2009, Aslihan was a member of the institutional Global Growth Equities platform (2009 AUM of ~$50b). Earlier research positions held by Aslihan include sell-side research at Citigroup and M&A analyst position at Dealogic.  She started her career at Shearman & Sterling, where she worked on cross-border leasing transactions. Aslihan graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business with a B.S. in Finance and International Business.  Born and raised in Izmir, Turkey, Aslihan was a competitive equestrian and participated in show jumping competitions while attending the American Collegiate Institute. She is also an avid skier who enjoys sailing and is a member of the Apollo Circle at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 Paul Dillinger

 Levi Strauss & Co.

Paul Dillinger, Senior Director of Color, Concept and Design, Dockers®, Levi Strauss & Co. In this role, Paul is responsible for the seasonal design direction of the brand – developing the concept presentations and color palettes for the Global Dockers assortment. He also designs the brand's two premium collections, K-1 by Dockers and the Art of Khaki. Following his passion for sustainability, Paul has been an integral partner with the company's Social and Environmental Sustainability group to develop front-end methods for applied sustainability in the design process. Before joining Dockers®, Paul worked as a fashion designer and brand development specialist for 16 years at a variety of fashion houses in New York, including Calvin Klein and DKNY. He also helped launch American Eagle Outfitters' brand, Martin + Osa. In addition to his work as a designer, Paul served as faculty and a Beaumont Fellow at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Paul received his BFA in Fashion Design from Washington University in St. Louis. After graduation he moved to Milan as the first Fulbright Scholar in fashion design, researching the influence of emerging luxury markets on high fashion design directions and commercialization. Concurrent with this research, he earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Domus Academy in 1995.

 Michelle Edkins


Michelle Edkins, Managing Director and Global Head, Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment, BlackRock. Michelle is responsible for the team's engagement and proxy voting activities in relation to the companies in which BlackRock invests on behalf of clients. She is an active participant in the public corporate governance debate and regularly speaks and writes on the importance of good stewardship for company performance. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the International Corporate Governance Network and is involved in a range of other initiatives in the field of corporate governance and responsible investment. Prior to joining BlackRock in 2009, Michelle was Managing Director at Governance for Owners, an independent partnership offering products that support responsible long-term share ownership. She started her corporate governance career in 1997 at Hermes Pensions Management, where she spent eight years, initially as the head of the corporate governance team and thereafter as Director of Institutional Relations. An economist by training, Michelle has also worked for New Zealand's central bank and the British High Commission in Wellington.

 Paul Ellingstad


Paul Ellingstad, Partnership and Program Development Director, Sustainability and Social Innovation, HP. Paul leads the ideation and start-up of strategic partnerships and programs within HP's Sustainability & Social Innovation team. He evangelizes the organizational and individual commitment to positive social contribution, which the company's founders, Bill and Dave rooted deeply in HP's culture and values. Paul has played an integral role in HP's embrace of the "Creating Shared Value" model in 2009 and the development and implementation of the social innovation strategy, including leading the "green field" development of the global health strategy and programs. Through coordination of the company's rich talent and expertise, and in collaboration with social entrepreneurs and other innovative public and private sector organizations, Paul is working to drive sustainable improvements in health, education and environment enabled in part through technology and innovation. Paul has worked in the technology sector for 20 years. Prior to his current role he led communications and customer programs for the head of HP's enterprise business sales in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, which included driving the organization's work to improve customer experience and loyalty. He has served in various senior roles in strategy, communications, marketing, and research. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from the University of South Dakota and lives in Ireland with his wife and three children.


 Matt Ellis

 CB Richard Ellis

Matt Ellis, Associate Director of Sustainability, CB Richard Ellis, the world's largest commercial real estate services company. Matt is responsible CBRE's sustainability services platform, North American sales and service implementation, and advises on CBRE's corporate sustainability strategy. He began his career with CBRE in Global Corporate Services as a broker, during which time he led CBRE's Sustainability Practice Group on the West Coast. After two years in brokerage, Matt was promoted to Director of CBRE Carbon where he helped implement CBRE's global carbon neutrality initiative and advised clients on environmental commodity procurement. Most recently, he assumed the role of Associate Director of Sustainability. Matt has experience in corporate sustainability strategy, green building, green leasing, GHG emissions management, carbon markets and sustainability reporting frameworks. He sits on CBRE's global sustainability steering committee.


 Angela Frank


Angela Frank, Director of Sustainable Manufacturing and Sourcing Operations, Nike. Angela began her career at Nike supporting the Asia Pacific Region's Finance and Strategic Planning Team. She has spent the last 10 years working on the Corporate Responsibility team – beginning as a Labor Compliance auditor in the Americas region followed by her current position as Director of Sustainable Manufacturing & Sourcing Operations. The focus of her work has been to help define the strategy and architecture of the company's current goals of ensuring that its internal business partners as well as its contract manufacturing partners are committed to understanding the value of sustainability, leading to transparent and informed Sourcing strategies. Additionally, she had the opportunity to serve on the Fair Labor Association's Monitoring Committee working across the industry with brands and NGO's to further integrate and accelerate the harmonization of labor and environmental standards and protocols. She is passionate about her work and feels it is a privilege to contribute the evolution of Sustainability in our industry. She holds an MBA in International Management from Portland State University Graduate School of Business. Her undergraduate focus was Economics and Business with a passion for Eastern European studies. She spent two years living in Denmark as an undergraduate studying at the Denmark School of Business and Economics. When not at work she enjoys reading non-fiction, cycling, tending to her chickens, gardening and spending time with her husband, Mike and children, Max and Luci. 

 Josh Henretig


Josh Henretig, Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft. He is responsible for helping define, implement and communicate the global environmental strategy for the company. Josh has found success translating corporate insights and experiences with sustainability into scalable business practices that result in reducing the company's environmental footprint and showcasing the role technology plays in enabling people and organizations around the world reduce their impact on the environment. Josh has spent a significant amount of time working with Microsoft business groups and international subsidiaries to embed environmental strategies and policies into their core business. Josh has been with Microsoft for close to 10 years and has held positions in Sales, Business Strategy and Management, and Environmental Sustainability.

 Mayra Hernandez

 Grupo Financiero Banorte


Mayra Hernandez, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Grupo Financiero Banorte. Mayra is a creative entrepreneur whose 18-year career has focused on the fusion of strategic branding, design and sustainability. Prior to her current position, Mayra founded the Mexico City based design firm, Entrelínea, and in New York City IMPACTOHM Strategic Branding.  Her unique vision-driven leadership style helped build long-term partnerships with diverse global clients. Even before the term Corporate Social Responsibility was coined, it has been at the core of Mayra's innovative professional life.  In 2004, she designed the "Mujer Banorte" concept.  This was the first program of its kind in Mexico to financially empower women. Mayra's belief in the importance of giving back manifests in the combination of philanthropy and innitiatives to inspire social innovation. She has served on the Board of Fundación Origen, a non-profit that supports underprivileged women in Mexico, and has co-chaired several fundraising events in NYC. Mayra received a Special Studies Certificate in Administrative Science from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana. She lives in NYC and spends significant time in Mexico.

 Christoph Lueneburger

 Egon Zehnder International

Christoph Lueneburger, Global Practice Leader, Egon Zehnder International. Christoph is based in the New York offices of Egon Zehnder International, a leading executive search and management appraisal firm with 63 offices globally. Christoph founded the firm's market-leading Sustainability Practice and leads its US Private Equity Practice. Prior to joining Egon Zehnder, Christoph was a Partner at 3Stone Advisors, where he focused on investments in the water sector. His previous professional career includes roles as Managing Partner of Rigger+Stern Capital Management and President of DBW Fiber. Christoph's work has been published by Harvard Business School, Environmental Finance, The Deal, People & Strategy and MIT's Sloan Management Review. A frequent speaker and moderator, he has served on the WSJ Steering Committee for ECO:nomics and taught on sustainability as a commercial strategy. Christoph has undergraduate degrees in philosophy and mechanical engineering as well as a Masters degree in Fluid Dynamics from Purdue University. He also holds an MBA from INSEAD. He has lived and worked in the United States, Germany, and France. Christoph lives in Bronxville with his wife and daughter, Anne and Liv, and has a passion for endurance sports – and anything involving water or guacamole. 


 Meg Siegal

Arnold Worldwide

Meg Siegal, Senior Vice President Creative Director, Arnold Worldwide. Meg is well-versed in the power of advertising. For more than a decade at Arnold Worldwide, she has sought out ways to use that power for good. She's battled the tobacco industry as Creative Director of the iconic truth campaign. By developing innovative and attention-grabbing messages to deter teens from smoking, she has helped truth become one of the most successful marketing programs in history to reach the youth demographic. Her efforts have helped contribute to a 60 percent decline in smoking rates among teens since 2000. Meg has also produced work for former Vice President Al Gore's "Climate Reality Project," a campaign to raise global awareness of the climate crisis faced by the planet. In addition, she heads all creative efforts on the American Eagle Outfitters account with the purpose of creating work that makes a socially responsible impact. Meg's career has been defined by her conviction that the key to any solution lies in creativity. In 2007, after determining that her agency could be making better use of creative technology, she founded and continues to manage Arnold's R&D Lab, an incubation center dedicated to driving innovation through experimentation.


Abe Tarapani

Astonfield Renewables

Abe Tarapani, Vice President, Global Strategy and Business Development, Astonfield Renewables. Abe manages Astonfield's global strategy, technical partnerships and market development efforts. In this capacity he works with national and local governments to advocate for enabling renewable energy policies and regulations, and to identify and develop projects where Astonfield can invest in a country's energy infrastructure. He also coordinates Astonfield's approach to technology selection, as well as the development and maintenance of global technical partnerships. Prior to joining Astonfield, Abe worked at Katzenbach Partners, a New York-based management consulting firm, where he advised Fortune 500 companies on implementing transformational change to their business models. In this capacity he worked with companies across Energy, Financial Services and Technology sectors. He also served as Katzenbach's Interim Chief Financial Officer and Director of Strategy and Business Development. While at Katzenbach, Abe was recognized as one of the Top 30 Consultants Under 30 in the United States. Abe holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale University. In 2000 he was named a Presidential Scholar by the Clinton White House. He is originally from the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean and now lives between New York City and Mumbai.


 Kristian Villumsen



Kristian Villumsen, Senior Vice President, Emerging Markets, Coloplast. Kristian joined Coloplast 4 years ago and spent three years leading the Global Marketing function with responsibility for strategy, portfolio, innovation, and global commercial programs. He then transitioned to sales and took over responsibility for Region Europe and just recently assumed responsibility for Emerging Markets, Coloplast's "growth engine". Prior to joining Coloplast, Kristian spent almost a decade with McKinsey & Company as a partner in the Copenhagen office, doing work mainly in Health Care and Consumer Goods. Kristian is a Danish national; he has a Master's degree in Political Science from Aarhus University and a Master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. He speaks English, Russian, Spanish in addition to Danish.