Nearly all aspects of my background tie into the purpose and vision of my work. Below I share the key areas of my life that have contributed to my passion for my life's work.
I grew up on a certified organic farm in rural Pennsylvania. Most of my childhood was spent learning to work the land, to grow food that would sustain our family, and how to care for our animals. I learned to respect the land and animals that fed and provided for us. I spent most of my time outside, either in the fields working or on the back of my horse galloping through the creeks and forests. Living off of the land brings with it a constant awareness of your direct impact and dependence on the environment. This lifestyle provided me a fundamental basis for sustainable practices that I would continuously build into my life as I got older.
My professional path unpredictably led me to Asia, where I spent several years working as a Manufacturing Manager for a product development company based in the USA. Fresh out of college and eager to get field experience, I had the rare opportunity to learn firsthand the ins and outs of international supply chain management. I developed our sourcing office in Hong Kong, establishing supplier qualification systems, performed pre-audits, managed cost/timeline and quality negotiations and oversaw production. I developed and managed supplier relationships and grew our capacity.
While working with factories in China, I realized my passion for cross-cultural communication and dynamic conflict resolution. I also realized an overwhelming sense of responsibility for contributing to the degradation of our environment through the production of essentially useless promotional products. I saw horrendous working conditions in factories, and even though my company chose not to do business with those particular factories, I couldn't help but notice that their production lines were operating at full capacity. I was also directly affected by the severe pollution of the factory cities when I developed a lung condition as a result of it. I found myself overwhelmed by the volume of "stuff" I witnessed being produced, and frustrated with my own inability to influence change.
I decided to step away from the industry, to shift my perspective and reimagine my role. I knew there was vast opportunity to influence positive change in this space, but I was uncertain of the best way to go about it. So I went for a walk; a very long walk. Over the course of five months, I walked from Maine to Georgia, the entire 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail, carrying with me everything I needed. Nothing teaches you how little you actually need, nor to appreciate the quality of long lasting, durable goods, quite like carrying everything you have your back. The trail offered a sanctuary of daily ritual in nature, while also allowed me to evaluate the intention of my work and place in this world.
After finishing the trail, I was eager to get back to work in supply chain, seeking work in an arena where I could be an agent of positive change. I began working for a social compliance monitoring firm in San Francisco called Level Works. What attracted me to this company was their commitment to establishing and maintaining supply chain transparency, rather than glossing over the challenges it presents. They were an entrepreneurial group committed to challenging the status quo of the audit industry and pushing their clients to take a more customized, effective approach.
In this work I found opportunity to utilize my expertise in supply chain management to produce effective and practical systems and tools for the implementation of code of conduct programs. I worked with Fortune 100 companies to build social compliance programs, and evaluated the effectiveness of existing programs. I developed a strong knowledge base on labor and environmental compliance issues in over 25 countries. I worked with companies in industries that included electronics, agriculture, food processing, consumer goods, apparel, footwear, and toys. I developed an expertise in strategy to manage issues such as child labor, human trafficking, and transparency (such as undocumented workers, falsified payroll and timecards, illegal outsourcing etc.). I loved this work and the opportunity to engage in work with so many innovative minds and hearts around the world.
After five years with Elevate (formerly Level Works), I decided to again take a break from the industry. I was feeling the weight that this work carries with it- the knowledge of so many problems in the world, the vastness and complexity of those problems, and the slow pace of progress- it can weigh heavily at times. I moved to Chile, with the intention to become fluent in Spanish, explore some wild places and once again shift my perspective and reimagine my role in this industry.
I am currently based out of Pucón, Chile. Since arriving in Chile, I've worked on several local projects with organic vineyards, sustainable building projects, and community development. I've climbed a lot of mountains. I've skinned up live volcanos, galloped horses through the Andes, and surfed with dolphins in the south. Most recently I rode my horse 1000 kilometers across wild Patagonia, connecting with wild places and remote communities. I've also reconnected with the supply chain industry, working as an independent consultant. I am continuing to consult on supply chain strategy, with a particular focus on creating systems and communication devices that establish and support transparency and accountability. I am continuously seeking thought partners who are willing to tackle the challenges that transparency presents, who are inspired to tell stories of the things they make and the people and places that make them, and break trail with me as we explore better ways of doing business.
Visit my Linkedin profile for a detailed overview of my professional experience.