Influential Advisors

Sylvia Earle

Leader, Ocean Exploration

Sylvia Earle has been at the frontier of deep ocean exploration for four decades. She’s led more than 50 undersea expeditions, and she’s been an equally tireless advocate for our oceans and the creatures who live in them.

Called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and the New York Times, “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress and “Hero for the Planet” by Time, Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration.

Earle’s work has been at the frontier of deep ocean exploration for four decades. Earle has led more than 50 expeditions worldwide involving more than 6,000 hours underwater. As captain of the first all-female team to live underwater, she and her fellow scientists received a ticker-tape parade and White House reception upon their return to the surface. In 1979, Sylvia Earle walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before or since. In the 1980s she started the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies with engineer Graham Hawkes to design and build undersea vehicles that allow scientists to work at previously inaccessible depths. In the early 1990s, Dr. Earle served as Chief Scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. At present she is explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society.

Earle is a dedicated advocate for the world’s oceans and the creatures that live in them. Her voice speaks with wonder and amazement at the glory of the oceans and with urgency to awaken the public from its ignorance about the role the oceans plays in all of our lives and the importance of maintaining their health.

William McDonough

Leader, Sustainable Development

William McDonough, FAIA, FRIBA, Int., is a globally recognized leader in sustainable development. McDonough is trained as an architect, yet his interests and influence range widely, and he works at scales from the global to the molecular. Time magazine recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet, noting: His utopianism is grounded in a unified philosophy that in demonstrable and practical ways’ is changing the design of the world.

He was the recipient of the 1996 Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, and in 2003 he earned the first U.S. EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for his work with Shaw Industries. In 2004, he received the National Design Award for exemplary achievement in the field of environmental design.

McDonough is the architect of many recognized flagships of sustainable design, including the Ford Rouge truck plant in Michigan; the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College; and NASA’s Sustainability Base, one of the most innovative facilities in the federal portfolio. He currently leads and chairs the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy.

McDonough has written and lectured extensively on design as the first signal of human intention. He was commissioned in 1991 to write The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability as guidelines for the City of Hannover’s EXPO 2000, still recognized two decades after publication as a touchstone of sustainable design. In 2002, McDonough and the German chemist Dr. Michael Braungart co-authored Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which is widely acknowledged as a seminal text of the sustainability movement. Their latest book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability Designing for Abundance, was released in 2013.

McDonough advises commercial and governmental leaders worldwide through McDonough Innovation. He is also active with William McDonough + Partners, his architecture practice with offices in Charlottesville, VA, and San Francisco, CA, as well as MBDC, the Cradle to Cradle® consulting firm co-founded with Dr. Braungart. Together with Dr. Braungart, William McDonough co-founded two not-for-profit organizations to allow public accessibility to Cradle to Cradle thinking: GreenBlue (2000), to convene industry groups around Cradle to Cradle issues; and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (2009), to expand the rigorous product certification program. McDonough co-founded Make It Right (2006) with Brad Pitt to bring affordable, Cradle to Cradle-inspired homes to the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, McDonough was invited to become the subject of Stanford University Libraries’ first living archive, a real-time collection of his work, writings, and communications.