On Friday, GreenSportsBlog broke the news that the Green Sports Alliance had hired Roger McClendon as its new Executive Director. He comes to the Alliance from Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and more), where he most recently served as its Chief Sustainability Officer.
Yesterday, the Alliance officially announced the McClendon hire, plus the addition of six new members to the Board. Here are some highlights from the announcement.
In a press release distributed Tuesday, McClendon commented on his new role as Executive Director:
“I am honored for the opportunity to lead the Green Sports Alliance. I look forward to taking the Alliance to the next level and ensuring sports plays a key role in the global sustainability movement, focused on measurable impact,” McClendon said. “Along with our Board, members and staff, we are poised to develop the Alliance’s vision, while leveraging global innovation and strategic partnerships, to improve the social and environmental well-being of future generations.”
Roger McClendon, new Executive Director of the Green Sports Alliance (Photo credit: Green Sports Alliance)
McClendon told Ian Thomas, writing in Tuesday’s Sports Business Journal, that one of his first actions as Executive Director will be to embark on a listening tour with Alliance members and partners. His early goals include:
- Having the Alliance move beyond working only on “environmental issues, moving to that next level of impact.” McClendon cited the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that not only includes environmental objectives like clean water and sanitation, but also social and economic issues such as eliminating poverty, ensuring quality education and achieving gender equality.
- Working with teams to engage fans to take positive environmental actions
- Building on the Alliance’s work of the “greening” the games and the venues in which they are played, but also helping to engage sports fans to take positive environmental actions as well.
“We are very excited to have Roger take on this leadership role,” Scott Jenkins, GSA Board Chair and General Manager of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium said in a statement. “His results-driven track record in sustainability and sports (he was a four-year starter for the University of Cincinnati basketball team) presents a unique opportunity for the Alliance to further innovate, influence and inspire the communities we serve.”
Scott Jenkins, Board Chair of the Green Sports Alliance and GM of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, host of next month’s Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta (Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
McClendon will make his first appearance as Executive Director on Thursday at Green Sports Alliance’s Sports & Sustainability Symposium at Arizona State.
Turning to the Alliance’s Board, the six new members are:
- Elaine Aye, sustainability consultant and strategist focused on building performance, wellness, equity and resiliency.
- Dune Ives, Executive Director, Lonely Whale Foundation, and one of the co-authors of the agenda that became the basis for the founding of the GSA in 2011.
Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale Foundation (Photo credit: Lonely Whale Foundation)
- Kunal Merchant, Managing Director, Lotus Advisory, a strategic consultancy with a strong sports practice. Prior to Lotus, Merchant was the Mayor’s Chief of Staff for the City of Sacramento, where he played a central role in the development of the acclaimed Golden 1 Center, home of the NBA’s Kings and the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified indoor sports venue.
- Jill Savery, Founder and CEO, Bristlecone Strategies, a sustainability advisory and consulting firm. Savery won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in synchronized swimming.
Jill Savery (Photo credit: Jill Savery)
- Cyrus Wadia, former Vice President, Sustainable Business and Innovation, Nike, where he led the company’s sustainability strategy.
- Jamie Zaininovich, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Pac-12 Conference, the first collegiate sports league to become a GSA member
- The Alliance sees McClendon as both a visionary and a top-flight manager. He has best-in-class sustainable business and sports chops — pioneering and successful CSO at a high-profile Fortune 500 company and a serious Division I college basketball player. Will McClendon be able to marshal his experience and skills to successfully lead the GSA through the challenging and exciting transition from Green-Sports 1.0 (greening the games) to Green-Sports 2.0 (engaging masses of fans on the environment) and beyond? Time will of course tell the tale but GSB can see why hopes are high in Portland.
- Using the power of sports to help link the attainment of UN environmental SDGs to non-environmental SDGs like eliminating poverty and gender equality is an important endeavor — in the end, they’re all related. A cautionary note: Make sure the environment does not get lost in the process.
- While not wanting to put too much stock in a press release, two words — “climate” and “change” — were conspicuous by their absence. GSB looks forward to talking with McClendon soon about his plans to take on climate change and much more.
- The additions to the Board are a Green-Sports All-Star squad. Dune Ives was present at the birth of the GSA. Jill Savery, like Roger McClendon, is someone who is both a successful sustainability practitioner and an ex-athlete. Elaine Aye brings a veteran strategic sustainability consultant’s perspective. Jamie Zaininovich’s experience with PAC-12 network contracts provides much-needed media business savvy to the GSA. I don’t know Messrs. Merchant and Wadia, but having folks with municipal government and Nike sustainability experience on the Board can only be a good thing.
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