In today’s more cause-oriented and issues-focused corporate world, inspirational leadership has become more crucial than ever for brands to be important voices in their communities. Making a difference genuinely matters to consumers now, and the greatest company commanders are making it a top priority to deliver more than just their brand’s goods and services. They deserve recognition—and a new program from The Legacy Lab is doing just that.
Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard and The New Yorker’s David Remnick top the list of 10 remarkable recipients of The Legacy Lab Honors, a new award that recognizes rare leaders—founders and refounders of brands that are making a long-term difference in a short-term world.
For 2017, as part of the first honors being passed forward, The Legacy Lab is honoring the achievements of five “Founders of the Year,” founders and cofounders who have been successfully leading their brands for at least three years. This year’s inaugural honorees are:
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia founder
Chouinard launched Patagonia in 1973. Yvon is a passionate advocate for the environment. Through a personal and professional commitment to reduce wasteful consumption and his vision that business can be a powerful catalyst of innovation for environmental benefit, Yvon is not only authoring the future of his Patagonia brand, but also redefining the mission of capitalism to include conservation and environmental responsibility.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder
Bezos launched Amazon in 1994. Jeff has grown Amazon into one of the world’s most widely recognized and influential brands while also working to create ‘Earth’s most customer-centric’ company. He has changed the way people live and raised cross-category expectations of service delivery, transparency and more. He is a once-in-a-generation leader who has created a brand that lives at the intersection of algorithm and aspiration.
Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero, Mendocino Farms cofounders
Chen and Del Pero launched Mendocino Farms in 2005. Ellen and Mario’s pioneering farm-to-table philosophy, and their unique brand of hospitality, bring together their commitment to locavorism and entrepreneurialism. They embody the spirit of a smaller brand that is creating big local change—teaching established industries new ways of working—while capturing the attention of influential brand champions such as Whole Foods Market along the way.
Scott Harrison, charity: water founder
Harrison launched charity: water in 2006. Scott was inspired to launch his vital nonprofit after traveling to Liberia and Benin in West Africa as a volunteer photojournalist with the humanitarian-aid organization Mercy Ships. His one-time fundraiser has now evolved into an established global nonprofit that has funded more than 23,000 water projects serving 7.1 million people. By contributing 100% of public donations to fund water projects for global communities in need, charity: water and Scott are creating the kind of disruptive change that is having a lasting impact on how individual contributors give and how communities live.
Debbie Sterling, GoldieBlox founder
Sterling launched GoldieBlox in 2012. GoldieBlox’s lasting legacy began with Debbie’s ambition to “disrupt the pink aisle,” challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character. Debbie launched GoldieBlox to introduce children to the principles of coding and engineering after recognizing a need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills to be better integrated into kids’ play experiences—especially for young girls. Through GoldieBlox, she is not only disrupting the pink aisle, but teaching skills that will stay with kids for a lifetime and inspiring them to be the next generation of role models.
The Legacy Lab Honors’ “Refounders of the Year” is awarded to leaders who, while not the original founders, held the reins of a well-established brand for over a year and are now writing the next chapter in its success story. This year’s laureates are:
David Remnick, The New Yorker refounder
Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998, and has modernized one of the most iconic publications in media and guided this acclaimed brand through a critical period in journalism. After 92 years and counting, The New Yorker is as nimble—and necessary—as ever, embracing new technologies to deliver its essential reporting and commentary.
Robert Safian, Fast Company refounder
Safian has been editor of Fast Company since 2007. Robert has the responsibility of ensuring the lasting legacy of this era-defining magazine created by Bill Taylor and Alan Webber. As Editor, he continues to honor the vision set out by the founders in 1995 while simultaneously evolving what it means to be a fast company in 2017 and beyond. Today, Fast Company thrives as the first, and sometimes final, word in the conversation about measuring business success by modern standards.
Deb Dugan, (RED) refounder
Dugan has been CEO of (RED) since 2011. Since she joined this pioneering non-profit, Deb has been instrumental in helping to solidify it as a brand that makes it easy for everyone to play an active role in ending AIDS. She has helped to bring in a new generation of young contributors to continue to make fighting AIDS relevant to many who weren’t even born when the epidemic first hit. Under Deb’s leadership, the organization recently began offering rare winnable (RED) experiences in support of World AIDS Day, in addition to its broad portfolio of year-round (RED) products. In the nearly 11 years since its founding, (RED) has raised more than $465 million for the Global Fund—money that has impacted the lives of 90 million people.
Richard Lewis, Wimbledon Championships refounder
Lewis has been CEO of The Championships, Wimbledon since 2012. Richard continues to find ways to prove that tradition and traditional, at Wimbledon, aren’t strictly synonymous. Under his leadership, the world’s most famous tennis tournament has been integrating aspects of the technology and culture of the times to deliver the same values the tournament has long held dear, helping to bring the esteemed past of Wimbledon forward. With 131 editions of the iconic tournament in the history books, Richard is dedicated to the ideal of continuing to make history at this year’s Championships and at each one after that.
Brendan Shanahan, Toronto Maple Leafs refounder
Shanahan has been president and “alternate governor” of the Toronto Maple Leafs since 2014. Brendan took the reins of one of hockey’s most storied franchises, rebuilding its leadership structure off the ice, restocking its athletic talent on the ice and restoring a winning culture across the entire club from front office to back. In his pursuit to write the next storied chapter in the Leafs’ 100-year history—this hall of fame hockey player is building today with the future in mind and, in so doing, inspiring an entirely new generation of fans.
Legacy Laureates were chosen by a Peer Council of prominent business leaders, including Christopher Gavigan, cofounder and chief purpose officer of The Honest Company; Craig Hatkoff, cofounder of The Tribeca Film Festival; Herve Humler, founding member, president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton; Toni Ko, founder of NYX Cosmetics + PERVERSE Sunglasses; and Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code. Caley Cantrell, the Strategy Chair at the VCU Brandcenter, is the Peer Council’s academic advisor.