Gil Philip Friend has been hired as the City of Palo Alto's first chief sustainability officer, City Manager James Keene announced Monday.
Gil Friend has been hired as the City of Palo Alto's first chief sustainability officer. Photo courtesy of the City of Palo Alto.
Friend will begin in his new position on Dec. 9. The selection was made following a national search and recruitment process that included input from community, business and environmental stakeholders, as well as interviews with panels representing a broad section of the community, according to a city press release.
"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 stated. "His thought leadership has inspired many, and he has instituted some of the most innovative programs in the field.
"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."
For the past 22 years, Friend has developed sustainability strategies and roadmaps for companies. He developed green product-rating systems for two large retail companies, led integrated eco-audits for more than 100 diverse manufacturing companies, and developed and delivered sustainability training for leadership teams associated with large public-sector organizations.
Friend's experience also includes work 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," Friend stated in the press release. "I've been eager to bring my experience to bear in one place, and I'm delighted this is it."
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.
He 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," "The Green Business Field Guide"; 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.
Friend's salary will be $153,000.