“Purpose- and values-driven organizations outperformed the general market and comparison companies by 15:1 and 6:1, respectively.” 
-Dr. Maynard Brusman


We all know a purpose-driven leader or organization. You know, the one whose mission and values are so clearly defined, so diligently practiced, that even in the face of great hardship, there is no question about how they will respond. 

We see many purpose-driven leaders in our industry because, at our core, we are all trying to solve global issue like water and air pollution, a growing waste problem, endangered species, and more. Some of these individuals are front-and-center while others make their impact behind the scenes, but all deserve recognition. 

Here are 10 purpose-driven leaders that we love and are inspired by everyday. And, they all happen to be women!

1. Tiffany Richardson, University of Minnesota lecturer 


Tiffany is a PhD who lectures at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education & Human Development. She developed a course at the U of M for students interested in sustainability in sports and through her partnerships, her students have been able to work both the 2014 and 2015 MLB All-Star games. She focuses on bringing sports, students, and sustainability together and she does it with so much passion. 

Words to live by:
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

(from the 2016 Green Sports Alliance Summit)


2. Betsy Henning, CEO and founder of AHA!


Betsy is an obsessive storyteller, art enthusiast, and explorer of others’ voices. These qualities help fuel her “why” behind her company, Aha!, where she inspires companies to find, tailor, and share their story with the world. 

We love Betsy’s unapologetic energy, drive, and enthusiasm for helping people discover their voice. At Sustainable Brands San Diego ‘16, she reminded us that meaningful conversations start when you land on the same page as the person you’re communicating with. 

Words to live by:
“Few things are more powerful than a great story well told.”

(from Aha!)


3. KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Brands


Oh, how we love KoAnn! Her love and concern for the environment has fueled everything she’s created since the 1980s. We like to think of her as the queen of purpose-driven leadership (she even founded a company to bridge the gap between purpose-driven leadership and increasing financial performance). At the Sustainable Brands '16 conference, she challenged all of us to move away from our competitive selves and come together to support and lift each other up in business and in life. 

Words to live by:
“What if we could make our customers the heroes instead of a place to pull money from?”

(from the Sustainable Brands 2016 conference)


4. Freya Williams, author and CEO of Futerra North America 


Freya’s resume will blow your mind. From Ogilvy to Edelman, to becoming the CEO of Futerra North America, Freya’s leadership is fueled by her passion for making a business case for sustainability. In her latest book, she outlines the social and sustainable cores of some of the largest companies in the world. There is no question that she lives her purpose day in and out.

Words to live by:
“We need to make green better, not just greener.”

(from the Sustainable Brands 2016 conference)


5. Kelly Vlahakis Hanks, CEO of Earth Friendly Products


Kelly Vlahakis Hanks is the powerhouse behind Earth Friendly Products (more about her story here). Inspired by her family, her purpose at ECOS is to help save the world, one bottle at a time. Whether she’s in class (she’s working on her masters), running around with her kids, or sitting in on the latest board meeting (she’s on several), she is focused on leaving a positive mark on people and the planet. And, I’m willing to bet you won’t find someone with more drive than this woman. The amount of work she balances while still living with purpose is so inspiring. 

Words to live by:
“You have to be committed. You have to be dedicated. You have to work from the ground up.”

(from The Next Generation Initiative


6. Brianna Brown, founder of The New Hollywood


We gushed about our love for Brianna Brown after seeing her at the SBC Reception in Santa Monica. She is an actress, philanthropist, and founder of The New Hollywood (TNH), an organization built to inspire women to achieve their goals, fulfill their potential, and give back to their communities. 

What we love about Brianna is that her purpose is all about service and about helping people feel accepted just as they are, something that she exudes whether she’s on screen or leading a group at TNH. 

Words to live by:
“Your calendar and credit card statement are a reflection of your values.”


7. Dayna Reggero, founder of the Climate Listening Project 


Dayna Reggero is the founder of the Climate Listening Project, a platform created to share stories about climate change and community. She is also a woman who has been leading with purpose since her teenage years, when she was an advocate for endangered species. Between her education, her work, and even in her personal life, her purpose is to accelerate conversations that benefit both people and the planet. She’s doing that now through the Climate Listening Project, where she’s starting conversations with people all over the country about climate change and community. 

Words to live by:
“Climate change is a global issue with local solutions.”


8. Anya Alvarez, former pro golfer and founder of MajorLeague Women 


Anya is paving a brand new path for women in the sports world through the creation of MajorLeague Women, a platform that gives a voice to all the strong, fearless women in the sports world. A former LPGA player, her purpose is to give women a voice and a meaningful spot at the table in a world that is dominated by men. We love her fearlessness and dedication to women in sports, and can’t wait to see how MajorLeague Women evolves.

Words to live by:
“If we join our voices...we will only reach broader audiences and impact more lives.”

(from MajorLeague Women)


9. Molly Lavik, Executive Director of Sustainable Business Council LA 

Molly is a Jill of all trades. Her dedication to entrepreneurs drives her work both at the Sustainable Business Council LA and in her own business, Mentor InSight, which is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. Her background is one to admire (think professor, marketer, and strategic business developer) and she leads with service to others.

Words to live by:
Her very own mantra of "empowering entrepreneur's access to success" 

(from Sustainable Business Council LA)


10. Sheila Nguyen, Executive Director, Sports Environment Alliance


Sheila is one fierce leader. The Executive Director of the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA) in Australia, she exudes purpose-driven leadership in her pursuit to use sports as the catalyst for change to protect our environment. With an extensive background in the world of sports, she knows first-hand how powerful the industry can be to inspire change, and we love her drive to create a greater consciousness around sports and sustainability. 

Words to live by:
“The sport industry needs the environment, and right now, the environment needs a loud, sexy, high profile voice and I believe sport holds the megaphone”

(from SEA)


Who is a purpose-driven leader that you love? Share your story in the comments!

Photos are courtesy of each featured woman's Twitter profile. Except KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, whose photo is courtesy of Sustainable Brands, Sheila Nguyen, whose photo is courtesy of SEA, and Freya Williams, whose photo is courtesy of Sustainable Brands.