Lessons from Randy Hayes, Founder of Rainforest Action Network

This is a part of a series of excerpts from the book, Leadership in Environmental Issues: What Works ©, by managing partner Stephen Anderson. This excerpted material is from Chapter 4 on Randy Hayes, Founder of Rainforest Action Network.

“The most important environmental policy is economic policy.” – Randy Hayes

It is hard to imagine what Randy Hayes is best known for because he has done so many things – award winning filmmaker, city government environmental policy maker, environmental activist and now founder of a Washington, D.C. think tank. It is even harder to know whether his life’s work has and will result in the social, economic and government changes he has worked and hoped for.

He has been described in the Wall Street Journal as “an environmental pit bull.”
That is accurate in depicting his tenacity, but the implication that he is an uncontrollable dog is misleading.

This is not a man on the fringe of society only showing up to disrupt and destroy businesses, economic and government pillars. The lessons in leadership he learned and willingly shares, seem fundamental to anyone aspiring to be a catalyst for change in any setting. What he omits to mention is central to his successful leadership and it is the transparency of his commitment; his willingness to risk removing a social safety net in order to achieve a selfless objective; his focused energy; and the satisfaction he enjoys in his pursuit of success. He takes these qualities for granted and expects them in all leaders.

‘As you think out to the next three to five decades,’ Randy explained early in the formation days of Foundation Earth, his Washington, D.C. think tank, ‘we need other leverage points than we had been able to use at RAN. What we need is a true cost economy and how do you make the shift from where we are now to that.’

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