Leveraging from Inside
The third Dialogue in the Leading Change Series, Leveraging from Inside, will explore how you can lead your company toward change from the inside by building different networks and communities. Come learn how others are winning awards from their companies, their industries and the social networks they have built for bringing corporate responsibility to life from INSIDE the system. Hear meaningful and doable ideas, and approaches to generate your own. You will gain insight on how to build strong networks and communities for change that you can count on.
A-P Hurd, Vice President at Touchstone Corporation and Yancy Wright, Sustainable Initiatives Manager at Sellen Construction Company, will lead the Dialogue. They have helped form a community for generating Big Ideas and finding back-up thinking. This community also regenerates them as people and change agents.
Dinner for the event is being provided by Herban Feast, a Seattle-based catering company that focuses on creating a healthier planet and community.
About Net Impact Seattle
Net Impact Seattle, a Professional Chapter affiliate of the international non-profit Net Impact, is a network of professionals interested in advancing corporate social responsibility and sustainability. We empower our members to make meaningful change in and through the workplace. Join our effort to help businesses improve communities and the environment. For more information about Net Impact Seattle, visit our Facebook Page -facebook.com/NetImpactSeattle
Leveraging from Inside - Meet the Change-Makers
By Kala Fleming & Ariyah DeSouza
Sellen Construction and Touchstone Corporation are Seattle-based construction/ development companies that have largely weathered the economic downturn. These leading Puget Sound businesses have fostered a corporate culture of responsibility to customers, employees and community. Discussions with Yancy Wright and A-P Hurd, corporate change-makers at their respective organizations, provides some insight on the people, ideas and processes that help bring corporate responsibility to life.
**Yancy Wright & Sellen Construction**
As our interview with Yancy Wright from Sellen Construction begins, he jokes that his role as change-maker in the construction industry came about from Catholic guilt. His father is an Oregon logger who cuts trees down for a living. He says he balances things out by inspiring others to replant them.
Yancy has graduate degrees in Architecture from the University of Idaho and Penn State. His four-year stint in Europe inspired his passion for creating "buildings designed for nature". Yancy created his role at Sellen as Sustainable Initiatives Manager after presenting a compelling value proposition to his leadership team. He was able to show that green buildings were good business and initiated Sellen's first LEED projects. Under his leadership Sellen increased its green project portfolio from 15 percent to almost 90 percent in three years.
Sellen's leadership in green building construction should not come as a surprise given the company's history and overarching belief that community engagement is the cornerstone of corporate culture. The University of Washington, Gates Foundation, and non-profits such as Seattle Children's Hospital are all repeat customers. The sixty-five year old company is employee owned (rare for contractors), only does business in the Puget Sound area and has extremely low turnover. They have even inspired fifty percent of all employees to carpool, walk, bike or bus (ORCA cards are provided). We asked Yancy to describe the distinguishing characteristic of a responsible corporation. "Integrity" was his quick reply. According to him "People might not be attracted to tree hugging but everyone can get behind community, and that's Sellen's positioning in Puget Sound".
**A-P Hurd & Touchstone Corporation**
A-P doesn't flinch at the thought of being labeled a change-maker. She is especially passionate about using innovation to spark change. According to A-P, "If you want business to be profitable while making a difference in the community, they need freedom to innovate". As a Vice President at Touchstone she is often at the forefront of advancing initiatives that will allow developers more flexibility in building and community design. Advancing these initiatives often means challenging regulations that inhibit innovation. For example, in her work to reduce carbon emissions from buildings, she found that state, city and other codes often contained barriers to creating better and more carbon-efficient buildings. Many detailed regulations presuppose how buildings will be made, and ultimately limit the potential for transformative innovation.
AP double majored in English and Engineering as an undergraduate. Before getting her MBA and an MSc in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT she worked on Wall Street for a few years. After the MBA she got an amazing opportunity to work with McKinstry, a mechanical contractor, in a strategic role where she was mentored by the company's CEO. Although A-P loved McKinstry, she moved on to Touchstone for the opportunity to be in a revenue producing role where she could also work on more big picture questions about sustainability and value in the built environment.
**Community Building/Sustainable Communities**
Last year, Yancy, AP and handful of other folks started an "eco-holics" or "transformative change" group that provides a forum for Puget Sound area change-makers to talk about their careers, issues in sustainability and industry challenges. "You can't make change with just one voice" says AP as she emphasizes the need for such a group. The eco-holics are in non-competitive companies but share many values about the built environment. The group has provided a place to develop ideas and work through challenges. It is a source of creativity and personal support. Each is strong but they are strengthened by meeting together.
Attend Dinner and Dialogue on Wednesday March 24th to meet Yancy and AP and to hear more about leading your company toward change from the inside by building networks and fostering a sense of community.
227 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
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