Tensie Whelan joined New York University Stern School of Business in November 2015 as Clinical Professor of Business and Society. She will lead the School’s efforts around issues of business and sustainability, driving research and coursework on natural resource-based challenges including climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, poverty and unsustainable development. Professor Whelan was formerly the President of the Rainforest Alliance, where she worked since 2000. In 2014, she was appointed as the School’s 2014-2015 Citi Leadership and Ethics Distinguished Fellow.
During her tenure at Rainforest Alliance, she increased the organization’s budget from $4.5 million to $50 million; ensured that 17% of the world’s tea, 14% of the world’s cocoa and 5% of the world’s coffee was certified by the Rainforest Alliance; and increased the visibility of the Rainforest Alliance seal from zero to nearly 45%. Under her leadership, the organization recruited 4,000 companies and nearly 5 million producers and their families in more than 60 countries.
Professor Whelan has been working in the environmental field for more than 25 years. Her published works include one of the first books on ecofriendly tourism, Nature Tourism: Managing for the Environment. She has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” by Ethisphere and was awarded the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2012. She serves on the advisory boards of Social Accountability International and Corporate Eco Forum, and she is the co-chair of the steering committee of Sustainable Food Lab.
Professor Whelan has also served as the Vice President of Conservation Information at the National Audubon Society, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters, Managing Editor of Ambio and management consultant to nonprofit organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund.
She received a B.A. in Politics from New York University and an M.A. in International Communication from American University.